A little belatedly here is my report for the Hardmoors 110 that I did 6-7th May. This is an ultra-marathon along the entire Cleveland Way in the North Yorkshire Moors. Starting in Filey, it heads north up the coast all the way to Saltburn. It then makes a westerly turn inland past Guisborough to Roseberry Topping before turning south all the way down the western edge of the moors to Sutton Bank and the White Horse. From there it heads east to the finish in Helmsley.
I did it—112 miles in one go! It has to be said it is a luxury and a massive help to have a support crew. They really looked after me and got me going again in my darkest hour. Take a bow Vicky and Matt Ward, Mark Smith, Caroline Thomas and Chris Small.
It was an excellent run along the coast from Filey to Saltburn (53 miles). It seemed much better than when I had done it in the other direction for the Hardmoors 60 last year. I had some good chats along the way with other runners. Some of who had amazing ultra tales to tell. I ran a lot of this section with my friend Wayne (“party on, dude”) who I know from other Hardmoors events. We realised that we were going a bit quick through Scarborough and made sure we got a bit of walking in after that so we weren’t overdoing it early on. When I got to Saltburn I knew my feet needed some attention but I had a few more blisters than I’d imagined. My socks were full of sand from running across the beaches at Runswick Bay and Skinningrove. The benefits of having a crew no.1: a change of socks and taping my feet up.
I then had 3 support runners with me for the second half as the rules permitted. Mark from Saltburn to Captain Cook’s Monument, Chris put a big shift in through the night from Cpt Cook’s to Osmotherley and Caroline from Osmotherley to the end. They were all brilliant and kept me going. Vicky and Matt followed me round in their car meeting me at each compulsory check point and many others. They were amazing. They only got a couple of hours sleep themselves!
The marshals at the Saltburn checkpoint sent us a way that I wasn’t expecting towards Skelton Beck. Up the hill on the road rather than just crossing the road into the park as the 60 does (in reverse). This threw me a little but a friendly local at the top of the hill soon put us right. Turns out this is the official route of the Cleveland Way. A few miles on, at a road crossing before Guisbrough Woods, we met Vicky and Matt for the last time on Saturday. I can’t remember what I ate there but I remember that I didn’t really feel like eating at the time. I picked up a long sleeve Helly from their car for the night time but didn’t put it on straight away. By the time we got to the top of the hill in the Woods I was getting chilly. I stopped to get my top out and realised that I’d picked up another short sleeve. Mark said “don’t worry you can have one of mine. I’ve got 3 layers on!” Only this exchange took a lot longer than expected. I was stood there shirtless and cold in the woods and Mark was wriggling around trying to get the right top off, from the 3 he had on, to give to me. Only he could not get any of them off over the protrusion of his “trusty” £7.77 head torch that he’d forgotten he had on his head. I blurted out “this really isn’t helping!” It must have looked a funny sight. Sorry Mark.
I began to have trouble with my stomach feeling nauseous just as it was getting dark and this got worse until I threw up leaving Guisborough Woods which made me feel instantly better and thankfully Mark suggested washing a gel down quickly with some water so that my sugar levels didn’t drop. This clearly helped with the imminent climb of Roseberry Topping. After eating again, when I exchanged Mark for Chris, at Capt Cook’s then again at Kildale, a few miles further on, the feeling came back and I threw up on the way up to Bloworth Crossing on top of the Moors. Chris was carrying some Lucozade Sport and that went down well to replace the energy. Once we turned right at Bloworth it suddenly became very bleak, the wind picked up and the cloud came down. I wasn’t feeling good when I reached Vicky and Matt at Clay Bank (79) miles at 3am. “Garth, is that you?” came Vicky’s voice through the pitch black and I was so glad to hear it. I was worried about not being able to keep any solid food down because the next stretch was around 12 miles long. I was close to giving up. I sat in their car for about 45 minutes. But they got some mushroom soup down me and convinced me to nibble a banana and drink 2 cups of sugary coffee. I came round, felt a bit better and set off again past a very psychedelic checkpoint, decked out with fairy lights and inflatable creatures. Vicky, Matt, what kind of mushrooms were in that soup again?
Chris and I made good progress over the 3 Sisters—the hardest section as far as terrain goes—and I was keeping food down again. Once we got to the Osmotherley checkpoint at 91 miles I knew I was going to make it. I tried to get as much food as I could manage in me and changed my shoes. The grip on my Hoka Challengers ATRs was hanging off at the heal. It had been flapping around for the last 5 miles. I sent those back for a full refund! I had another pair of Hokas in Caroline’s car but these were Speadgoats and had a much better sole.
It was a big climb up Black Hambleton with Caroline to start this leg off. She made it easy though with lots of encouragement and enthusiasm. She’d been watching the tracker for hours and was champing at the bit to get going. We made good progress towards the next checkpoint at the White Horse. A cup of tea and one of Vicky’s brownies and we were off on the last leg. 10 miles to go. There was very little running done now, just the downhills, but I was powering along walking—at least it felt like it to me.
I was so happy to finish and my crew gave me a great reception. My time was 30 hours and 53 minutes.
I was hobbling around for a couple of weeks after that with sore Achilles. The rest of my legs, however, felt surprisingly fine and I was eating for Britain for all of those 2 weeks!
Now I’ve had time to think about it. Would I do another 100 miler? Yes I would. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about myself. Can I push it further? I don’t think there are any limits.