Hardmoors- Roseberry Topping halfISH Marathon race report


I went into this race not knowing what to expect other than hills and for it to be hard. I certainly wasnt disappointed!
The night before had been wind and snow so i wasnt exactly convinced that we were going to get good weather. However….on arriving in Guisborough all seemed strangely calm and there wasnt even a cloud in the sky, so that was one major hurdle out the way.
However, it definetly still had a good December chill in the air.
After the mandatory kit checks and the usual registration procedures were completed, i started trying to focus on the race ahead. Taking some last minute water onboard and making sure my pack was comfortable. I made my way to the starting line and stood looking up at snow covered hills, feeling excited but also wondering what had i gotten myself into!
GO! and we’re off. The first mile or so was slow as we all fought for space up a small thin trail path and then over the first of many stiles. Then across some open fields i stupidly was thinking that maybe this race wasnt going to be all that bad. Little did i know, around the corner was a giant monstrousity of a hill covered in ankle deep sticky mud and puddles..delightful! All around me was moans and groans of us ‘not so elite’
runners trying to pull ourselves through it. I had to stop to tighten my shoes a few times as if they came off i wouldnt find it again… lesson 1 learnt.
Of course, in true runners style, through this hellish hill was a load of laughs and few choice words as all these strangers pulled together to get us all through it. Thankfully at the top of this hill was our first sense of achievement at reaching Highcliff Nab. One photo later, and i continued over the tops, above Highcliffe Farm, towards todays biggest challenge Roseberry Topping. There was a sharp descent down to the
bottom of Roseberry, something which i throughly enjoyed of course and managed to stay on my feet! Then the realisation hit me that i now had to climb over this rather large hill twice! The first ascent i did unaccompanied with only my own thoughts, which were mainly about where i was putting my feet!
The rocks were icy and it was a hands a knees job at points. But, i knew, somewhere on this hill there was some of those precious jelly babies, and that was motivation enough! Unfortunately, on reaching the summit i discovered they were, in fact, at the bottom on the other side. So, off i went, hoping for some recovery on the downhill which turned out to be difficult. Mentally exhausting, both up and down with
little physical recovery either. The discovery of the checkpoint was a brilliant boost that was well needed. Jelly babies and jaffa cakes!
Although slightly muddy and frozen they got devoured rather quickly. Picking up a last chance handful of jelly babies i U-Turned and began the steep ascent again. This time in company of some lads from york and started to chat about our running clubs and experiences. It definetly helped get back up to
the top, a few christmas carols later and there we were. I took a few minutes at the top to take in the view, have a chat with the marshals and have a few quick breathers. The weather had stayed absolutely perfect, got a gust of wind or even a cloud in the sky.
Reaching the bottom of Roseberry Topping for the final time, the next task was to get over to Captain Cooks Monument that i could see in the far distance.
By now my legs were hurting and feeling heavy but feeling happy and comfortable otherwise. The mood was lighthearted and everyone had formed into little groups all getting to know each other.
For the most part, this next section was fairly flat but still technical. The rocks were still coated in ice and there was alot of mud and water to navigate around. The section took us along the edge of Great Ayton Moor past Ayton Banks farm. After entering Ayton Banks wood there was a sharp, steep incline to the top where Captain Cooks Monument stood in all its glory. Again, a quick photo and i was off bounding down the other side just hoping for the best! Continuing through woodland and shaded trail paths i actually got a little bit of a recovery though it may have been a few miles too late.
I reached the next checkpoint where i needed to take a few minutes break and take on some goodies and get a good drink of coke down me. I started to start the steep descent down a long road with the lads from York.
We all knew within a matter of minutes we would be climbing straight back up this around the corner. Even so, the quick run down was filled with laughter with only a few ouches inbetween.
It was a long, gradual ascent up to Percy Cross Rigg. It didnt half make the legs burn! I managed to grab some jelly babies and kept my legs moving along the top but it was now obvious the pace had slowed and my legs were definetly feeling less than fresh. For the next few miles it was me and my thoughts again, through a winding open section
but with unexpected breathtaking views of Guisborough Moor. I reached Highcliff Nab again, so i knew this was the final stretch of descent back down to the finish line.
Buddied up with another lass from newcastle we made the technical, muddy descent together. As much as we just wanted to open up and fly down, we also didnt want to pick up a bad injury this close to the finish. So we took the muddy bits easy and picked up the pace again across the open fields, down into the village, and across the finish line.
And that was that. 15 miles of the toughest, most challenging race ive done yet. That said, it is right up there with the best things i have ever accomplished.
Never have i smiled from the start of the race to the finish but it was impossible not to this time. Theres no feeling like running in fells, surrounded by strangers who you somehow feel a sense of commmunity and closeness with. I learnt many things and met many people, neither of which i will forget.
Unforgetable and undeniably fun!
Catherine Rachael Vicarage
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