Saturday, 28 January 2012

AdventureHub Yorkshire Moors Marathon - 28th January 2012

Or rather for me 27.5 miles !!! ... it's a long story about once being in a fit of pique about not getting into a marathon and then slamming my foot down with the announcement that I'll NEVER, ever, run a race over 26.2 miles ...

THE Iconic North Yorkshire coastal landmark provided a great starting backdrop at 8.00am this morning on a cool sunless day. Hopes are high; and the sun soon will be - cloudless later actually - however, does my first trip over a good distance this year, off road, all work out?.

The odd few people that actually read these ramblings of mine will have seen that I vowed to get rid of an amount of ballast associated with sitting at a desk, or behind the wheel, all day and the results are very encouraging ... 15" 3 (is that a heavyweight?) on the 4th January: Yesterday it was down to 14" 1 and with a target of 13" 7 by the end of February, that sounds like a good achievable plan but my concerns remain over fuelling for long distance grinds? Have I got enough in the bank for this effort today?

The first bit entailed the coastal track of the Cleveland Way from Whitby down to Robin Hoods Bay ...

... and a bit of hard surface for a while soon behind us.

This trail is spectacular in any weather but when the sun rose over the headland, it provided a stunning backcloth to the day, the field quickly thinning with the speedsters away into the distance and me and the mid packers floundering around on an atrocious (for me) muddy route down the coastal path.

This would get worse and would nearly break me later but respite was provided by a detour onto the old railway track into Bay and an opening 10k time of 63 minutes - indicative of the conditions underfoot when you're wearing the equivalent of Ballet Shoes! - and checkpoint 1.

I had decided to gob gels every four miles and it appeared to work well: Through Bay and around, and on, and up, heading towards Ravenscar I never stopped running ...

... Even when the sign clearly meant "slow down, you look like a Duck" and the incline kept coming for a few more miles but I managed to stick to the task until the steps at the bridge signalled a change of direction and conditions. Leaving the track with a glimpse over the right shoulder to where we've come from and Bay is sunlit. - hopefully not be long before I'm back there on the return leg!

But inevitably there were climbs ...

... And bald trail shoes with three years worth of wear were just not up to the task in hand. I couldn't run and so became reduced to a tractionless walk before up and over and down towards checkpoint 3 on the A171 road and the halfway point.

Here, the Garmin said 2.20 but instead of turning and heading back homeward, i carried on for a half mile in order to get passed my notional 26.2 phobia ... this involved a steep waterlogged tussocky field which added 10 minutes onto the clock. My outward time being now 2.30, I need to get back in exactly the same time to get my 5 hour target time so straight back on to the track ...

And over the top and back down through the fields with Raven Hall Hotel on the headland ...

and once more Robin Hoods Bay, this time under forboding clouds and a rainbow hinting at showers ahead.

Now, on the return leg the mental calculations began: If I get back to Robin Hoods Bay 3.30 into the race, then I have 1.29 to retrace my steps - a distance that took 1.03 this morning ... BUT, there's plenty of muddy hills - up and down and I've got no grip at all ... walkers are clinging onto fence posts and I've a brand new pair of Mizuno Ascend 6 at home that I've yet had time to train with hence the return to the old Cascadia 4`s. They still give me a carpet slipper smooth ride but it doesn't work today and time is lost tippy toeing about on slippery stones, grasses and just ankle deep mud. Both Despondency and Frustration set in and I'm cursing myself that I`ll fail.

I then worked out that my first glimpse of the Abbey will be after the old Fog Horn Station and that's 25 minutes to the tape, what time does the Garmin say when I finally paddle into view? ..... 4.40.

No chance now in the state I'm in .... I've been over more times than ever, both knees hurt, a couple of scratches are bleeding and it nearly brings me to tears with anger! what's all that about?.

I've just taken a screamer of a fall and a walker says "Now you're going to tell me you're enjoying this aren't you?" I think of a response, one being "I've just nettled my arse, I'm angrier than a man with wasps in his hat and I've just blown a pb and I'm covered in mud!, what do you think!" ... Oddly it comes out as "It's all about taking part, the satisfaction comes later", and we part smiling.

I'm never going to "compete" in a race like this, us dirt trackers are generally racing against our own clocks but I feel stupid that I've blown a chance to get a target early on in the year. I look sadly at the Garmin and it says 26.2 miles with a time at 4.50 and I shrug ... a triumph is a triumph, I suppose, and if I hadn't put the extra loop in at half way then who knows.

I'm shot to bits around the lane back to the tape but sanguine now in the afternoon sun that I've just pushed myself hard and actually really enjoyed myself and the event. I cross the line at 5.06 with 27.6 miles on the screen and Ian of AdventureHub shakes my hand ... "Well done Mike, you've yet to finish at 26.2 miles then" and it's all suddenly worth it.

I now realise it's incredibly churlish to get into a state, when we've just taken apart a great course and been so well and politely assisted by the AdventureHub team. They have been so accommodationg to me with my request for a loop; the marshalling teams were fantastic and the welcome home was great.

I need to say a big thanks to Ian, Lee and the team at AdventureHub for giving me a great chance of a trip out .... no way would I have managed the Frostbite 50 today and out of the respect that is fully deserved of such a venture I'm pleased to have taken part in the "fun run":  I`ve loved it and I'll take 4.50 for 26.2 tough, hill, trail, track and moorland miles today - but I'll never stop at 26.2!


  1. great pics and awesome post Mike. sounds like a tough course...the best kind!

  2. Sounds a good course. Well run
    PS Very impressive picture of Mam Tor in December 2012 !!!!

    1. Thanks John :-), yep, unbelievably clear Christmas Day on Mam Tor - what a difference from last year!, quite benign ... Yes, I enjoyed the Moors trip although could have done with a pair of YakTracks at the end! Thanks for dropping by.