Hardmoors Roseberry Topping Trail Marathon Report

I hadn’t done much running since the Whiterose Ultra at the end of October so was a little off form but this was my last race of the season so I wanted to end on a good result.

Ben Shacklock and I travelled up to Guisborough on the morning of the race not entirely sure what we would find once we got there as the previous day had seem some pretty bad weather but in the end, and probably for the first time ever, it was blue skies over the North York Moors all day long.

Death or glory I thought to myself as we lined up outside the Guisborough Sea Cadets Hut, I decided to try and get to the front and hang on for as long as I could and see what happened from there.

Just after 8am we were off and I got off to a good start expecting to be chasing after Paul Nelson as per usual but I was out in front with no one around me “what the hell’s going on here” I thought, maybe I misheard the start and everyone was stood laughing at me as I ran off on my own from the start.

I had a quick look round but everyone else was running behind me so I just got my heard down, cranked up the volume to AC/DC on my iPod and settled into an decent pace.

It turned out that Paul was just having a steady one, having already wrapped up the series so I was in with a chance if I could just keep going for another 30 miles.

The first couple of miles are pretty uneventful as you follow the road up past the houses from the cadets hut before turning right over a stile, across a field and then onto a forest track before turning sharp left and onto the first test of the day.

I knew the climb up to Highcliff Nab would be a tough one after the heavy rain so was pleased to be in a good position so I didn’t have to follow anyone. The Salomon Fellraisers are some of the grippiest shoes available so they made short work of the climb and soon I was at the top of the climb and heading out onto the moors towards Roseberry Topping.

By the time we had reached Roseberry Topping I had pulled out about a 30 second lead on the 2nd place runner and was starting to feel confident in my running at this stage, I was feeling good and not pushing too hard at this point.

As I dropped down from the Cleveland Way to start the first of 2 climbs to the top of Roseberry Topping I couldn’t see a sign showing which way to go to get to the summit so lost some time which allowed a couple of other runners to catch me.

I really need to work on looking out for course markers as this isn’t the first time I’ve lost time searching for the route.

The climb up to Roseberry Topping is short but very steep and is a killer on the legs. I power walked up to the top and after a little bit of confusion from the marshalls where I was sent down a path, called back up and then sent back down the same path I was off down towards the checkpoint at the bottom.

Roseberry Topping

This descent was a nice technical one starting with steep and uneven rock steps before changing to a steep and muddy slope, through a gate and then down some wooden steps to the checkpoint and then back to the top the same route.

On the way back up I saw fellow Harrogate Harriers runners Darren West and Ben Shacklock and shouted words of encouragement to them, then after was seemed like an eternity I was back at the top and on the way back down the other side where we rejoined the Cleveland Way and headed out towards Captain Cooks Monument.

I lost a bit of time on Roseberry Topping after having to look for the route to the top and the slight confusion on the route down from the top and just as I hit the climb up to Captain Cooks Monument I was caught by Richey Buckle.

From this point we ran together for the next 10 or so miles, down into Kilburn and then back up towards Bloworth Crossing.

Passing through Kilburn with eventual winner Richey Buckle
Passing through Kilburn with eventual winner Richey Buckle

The climb out of Kilburn was probably the hardest of the day. Its not particularly steep but it is long and the conditions underfoot were far from ideal. There was a lot of ice on the track which caused all sorts of problems with grip. There just wasn’t any unless you ran in the snow which isn’t the easiest to run in anyway but certainly better than running on ice.

It was a long drag the the next checkpoint which was the turning point in the race where we started to head for home. Both Richey and I were running well and chatting as we ticked off the miles. At this point I was thinking I was still in with a chance of taking my first win.

Stomach problems on the next downhill section meant I had to stop and sort myself out losing a couple of minutes to Richey but I set off after him with the idea of trying to catch him on the next technical downhill section.

I caught him back up on the descent to Hograh Beck where I kamikazed it down the steps and made up the lost time.

Across Great Hograh Moor the path was mostly under melt water and was really tough going. I couldn’t feel my feet at this point but they weren’t going to get dry until I got back to my spare clothes at the hut so lets press on I thought.

Along the track on Westerdale Walk I took a little tumble and banged my knee and elbow but I was quickly back on my feet and running with Richey.

As we hit the road section at Castleton I knew this was going to be the toughest section for me. I just can’t get myself going on road sections in trail marathons so I knew I was just going to have to hang on as best as I could on this section.

I had to take a walking break and get something to eat and drink and get a S!Cap down me and it was at this point where Richey started to pull a little gap on me. I did my best to close it again but by the time we were leaving Castleton he was gone and I knew I was running for second place now.

My legs just didn’t have enough long runs in them in the previous few weeks and I had lost some stamina but was determined to push on and come home with a trophy.

The drag through Commondale and onto Guisborough Moor was really tough for me I lost another place about 3-4 miles from the finish and I couldn’t respond at all.

I could see a couple more runners making time on me so I had a word with myself and pushed on as best as I could. I knew if I could make it to Guisborough Woods with a decent enough lead on my pursuers I would be able to keep them at bay on the technical downhill through the woods back to the start.

So after much swearing at myself to keep going I reached the gate to the woods with a minute or so lead and charged down the track towards the finish.

The more technical and steep the track the better I am so I knew I wasn’t going to be caught now. I was elated to come home in 3rd place and take a trophy home with me to go with the third place I got at Wainstones earlier in the year.

Next year I want to win a Hardmoors race so the training starts now!

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