Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Ravenscar Half Marathon - 11th May 2014

Following hot on the heels of our first ever road marathon completion, rushing around the streets of Paris back on an early April Sunday morning, with hardly any opportunity to stop and take it all in; the city, the sights, the journey; then how refreshing it was to be back onto my heath of choice – the muddy coastal tracks and uncrowded byways of the North Yorkshire Moors.

To spend a Sunday morning raising a couple of quid for the Scarborough and Rydedale Mountain Rescue Team is to grab, with both hands, a great chance of running along one of the most spectacular coastal pathways of England. As opposed to the 39115 multinational finishers in Paris, what a contrast and grounding to be back in a field of 109 local fellow off road fanatics: We all had an equally great morning out in scenery that cant be bettered and even finished with smiles on our faces – or was mine a grimace?


One of the holy trinity of challenge events provided by the Scarborough and Rydedale Mountain rescue Team, this is the shortest but possibly the testiest of their offerings and the first time that Lady M and I have managed to get to it.

Initially away down from the village hall, through the lanes of Ravenscar and onto the Cleveland Way coastal footpath just beyond Raven Hall Hotel, the stunning expanse of the sea views to our left, as we headed southwards, were as jaw dropping as ever.

But the sea to our left is all too soon a memory.

At Petard Point, we were whisked inland through fields and down farm lanes, passing through Plane Tree Farm and its namesake cottages before a sharp neat twist back right and steeply down over the stream via the stepping stones (or the footbridge, like M, if you preferred drier feet) then steeply back up through a wet field before joining the long downhill cinder track at Staintondale.

The self same track that once held the Ravenscar to Scarborough railway line, a section of the old coastal railway that went from Scarborough, way up beyond Robin Hoods Bay, then Whitby, Runswick Bay and Staithes towards the industrial North East and ultimately Middlesbrough.  A casualty of the Beeching axe back in 1968, this must have been one of the scenic railway journeys of the British Isles and now remains a simple byway for cyclists, walkers, trekkers and, of course, occasionally runners.

Just over 6 miles into the trip, we turned smartly eastwards and coast-wards again at Cloughton, the tarmac path seemingly winding down straight into the sea! However, just prior to a soaking, the route switched back north onto the grassy Cleveland Way coastal path and the northbound return to Ravenscar.

Rejoining it at Cloughton Wyke, the big dipping Cleveland Way is no country stroll, an immediate drop almost down to the stoney beach is immediately followed by  the first climb of stone stairs then steep sloping fields then more inclines then more fields before the drop through the woodland down into Hayburn Wyke and the inevitable climb back out.

A tough climb out inevitably means bunching on the steps but it did give a chance for a breather accompanied by the classical well used hands on hips posing!

The final biggy is the long slope up to the Petard Point return checkpoint prior to the trot back towards Ravenscar Tea room. The day then clouded over and, coupled with the flatter, cooler section of field side- cliff-side pathway, this provided a much welcome respite from the undulations and slippery cut grass of the previous few miles. 

However, I much preferred this to the last half mile or so of tarmac; joining the lane at the tearoom then back through the village, left up the hill and finally left again along the lane back to the village hall and a round of applause by the gathered half dozen or so supporters and organisers milling around the lane – the crew from the SRMRT - and we've finished.Done it! Got around in 2.25 and thoroughly enjoyed this outing – as I do every time I visit these hills; all the better for the scalding tea and swiss rolls to be found on the table at the end. The conclusion reached by M at the end was that this was harder than Paris. Of course it was. These challenge events always are.

(The trick is then to head over to Whitby leisure center, shower for £1.30 and even get your parking money refunded before the inevitable Whitby Cod dish for replenishing the reserves).

Many thanks again to all at SRMRT for a brilliant event …. See you all again at the Saltergate later in the year.

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