“The Hardmoors 55 is a 55 mile Ultramarathon running from Guisborough to Helmsley. The 55 mile race will take competitors through the North York Moors and the Cleveland Hills in quite possibly winter conditions. Do not underestimate this race!! There will be options for supported and unsupported runners. The race contains over 2000metres of ascent and has a time limit of 16 hours.”
Last weekend… I took on Hardmoors 55. It was 20 miles farther than I have ever ran in my life, had nearly 9kfeet of climbing, and was the most brutal conditions ever – made harder by Covid which meant no warm checkpoints or cups of tea!
I had originally expected to race this event in March (thanks again Covid), and the new start date of October crept up on me rather fast.
Last year I supported my Dad on the Hardmoors 60… during the day I had to do one of my last big IM sessions in training – it’s an awful session which involved 5x5k runs, progressively getting faster. I didn’t want to get lost or risk missing my dad, so I literally ran 1.5 miles out and back, 5 times. Shirley Steele (race administrator and wife to race director Jon) watched me do this and asked what I was thinking… her response was something like “that’s the kind of crazy made for Hardmoors, why aren’t you racing?”
There’s something about Hardmoors events… it’s that they’re hard. I think they do attract the nutcases amongst us who take some kind of pleasure in suffering – it’s very much a family/community feel to the races, and it’s obvious that most of the competitors do multiple of the Hardmoors races and year on year.
So the race…
Like I hinted at, I probably went into this incredibly naive to what was in store, and possibly (/definitely) a little under trained/prepared.
Despite the 44mph winds and aggressive hills, my legs felt strong and happy. I felt super comfortable and happy to be out in the scenery all day… until I got to around the 20 mile mark. Around this point I was surprised by a friend on the route, which was a huge distraction, morale and sugar boost – he brought sweets.
As soon as Luke left, I had about 7 miles of pain (and a lot of rain) before I hit a bit of a low… I may have called the boyfriend whining (crying) about my knee. Someone overheard and gave me some nurofen – not entirely sure this is recommended when running, but I was pretty happy to take it at this point!
I would love to say it made a huge impact, but I literally spent the next 25 miles whimpering up and down, up and down, up and down A LOT of hills. The weather was so horrendous that I actually put a big thick hat on (not for running) and my teeth were still chattering as I was running. Keeping warm was the only thing actually keeping me running despite the knee pain!
The last 10 miles or so was pitch black – this was quite daunting trying to navigate/not slip, it was also still very bleak weather and by this point my knee and morale wasn’t in the best place. Thankfully I met a lovely man named Pete and we pretty much ran the whole rest of the way back together… we each had a Freddo with about 3 miles to go and I think it was the happiest I had felt all race! I was so appreciative to have someone to run with in the dark!
I was relieved to finished and surprised that I still managed to come away with 5th lady! It was frustrating to have suffered with my knee as I was sure I could have pushed myself to make the top 3, but it’s nice to have something to come back next year for!
I can definitely see why Hardmoors has such a great community – every single volunteer and runner was happy to be out there suffering (me included, despite what this may sound like!) It was incredibly well organised and such a beautiful route. So much so, that despite the pain and the fact that it’s a week on and I still can’t run… I entered the 80 mile race of theirs for next month. Unfortunately/thankfully – it’s been cancelled, no idea what I was thinking entering, but I can’t wait to do it in 2021!
You can watch my race vlog here: