Race Rundown: Hardmoors 110 mile, 25-26th May 2019

The Hardmoors 110 has been on my list of ‘Must Do’ races for quite some time. I’ve fancied having a go at the fabled 100 mile distance and the 110 ticks a lot of boxes being close to home on terrain I know well and being very well organised by people who love ultra running.

Having finally bitten the bullet and signed up I started training well before Christmas and have consistently managed long runs on the Cleveland Way most weekends since. This meant that as we travelled down on the Friday of the May Bank Holiday weekend I was confident I knew the course and that I was in good shape to tackle the distance. I was being supported by my partner Nicola who had done a lot of the training with me and my mate, Leachy, who is a veteran of several Hardmoors ultras. Having stopped in Scarborough on the Friday evening (…and enjoyed a pre-race Guinness!) we were at the start in Filey in good time for the 8am start on the Saturday morning. Having registered I did my usual check, re-check and check again of my run bag before we were off.

The first few miles ticked along really nicely and I met Leachy and Nicola a couple of times on the way to Scarborough to grab some food and drinks. Scarborough itself is always a long slog to get through as it’s a considerable distance to be running on hard concrete and through the holiday crowds. We were soon back on the cliffs though and heading to Whitby on what was was turning out to be an exceptionally warm day.

The morning passed really quickly and by the time I was in Whitby it was early afternoon and the tight streets of Whitby were filled with tourists. The famous Abbey steps took me into the crowds and it meant I was forced to walk most of the way up to the Whale bones for some much needed food and drinks. There were several people struggling with the heat by this point and I was taking in plenty of fluids, grateful I had my support crew meeting me with fresh bottles regularly.

Saltburn was the next big town which also reflected about halfway in the race. I got there in just over 10hrs and was still feeling strong and in good spirits. I again got some food down but as the weather was turning and night was drawing in I pulled on some extra clothing and Leachy joined me for the climb through Skelton and off to the Cleveland Hills.

It wasn’t long before Roseberry Topping loomed large on the horizon but as I was still moving well and managing to maintain my eating and drinking I was still feeling positive.

Nicola joined me shortly after this for the night time run over the Moors. This coincided with the clouds dropping and we were running through the fog in the dark for most of the night. As the night carried on and tiredness started to kick in and the lack of visibility became fairly disorientating. This is where all the recce runs came in to their own as I always knew where I was and felt confident we were on the right paths.

The sun was starting to come up as we approached Osmotherley and then climbed out the other side. The long climb was hard but we met Leachy at Square Corner who had food waiting. This is where my legs decided that enough was enough! As soon as I set off I tried a gentle run and there was nothing there. I’d done 90 mls by this point, by far the furthest I’d ever been, and despite still feeling I had the energy my legs were too sore to run. I therefore settled in to as fast a walk as I could muster and strode out for Helmsley. The hardest part was climbing up to the White Horse at Kilburn on route up the steep steps. I must’ve have looked a bit strange heaving myself up them, relying on the railings for support…but it worked.

Helmsley couldn’t come soon enough and I eventually finished in 28hrs 30mins. The last 20mls had really slowed me down but I’d finished. Exhausted and sleep deprived I collected my medal, hobbled to the shower and headed home…vowing to stick to sensible distances in the future… maybe!


Results: https://www.hardmoors110.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Hardmoors-110-2019-Results.pdf


By Ian Blakemore.

Editor’s note: a very modest account; a look at the results shows how impressive Ian’s achievement was.

Race Rundown: Valentine’s 10k, Newcastle, 17th February 2019

Having run this race last year I was looking forward to returning to the Town Moor in Newcastle to run the Valentine’s 10km again this year. Due to concentrating on longer distances recently I was interested to see how I’d get on over a distance that I used to run regularly and on a course that is relatively fast. 

Due to the leisurely 10.45am start time I didn’t need to leave too early and picked up Nicola en route. Having found parking tricky last year we decided to park in Gateshead and have a jog to the start over the iconic Tyne Bridge and through the Toon to the start. This turned out to be a good move as the Central Motorway appeared to be closed causing the traffic to tail back as we jogged merrily on. We got to the start and I had expected to see a few Harriers out as it had been a Grand Prix event last year and was really well attended. However, having collected my number, there was only myself representing Sedgefield that I could see. I bumped into some friends from Hartlepool Tri and then having discussed the usual pre-race topics of “What time you expecting?” and “How’s the injury feeling?” I headed off for a warm up. There was a 5k event just before the 10k this year so having run the first section of the route the first runners of the 5k were starting to cross the line as we stretched off and dumped clothing into the baggage drop. 

T he Run Nation events always seem well organised so we were in the Start chute on time and with a last ‘Good Luck’ to each other we were ready to go. The course is 2 laps of the Town Moor, heading from Wylam Brewery across to Gosforth and then working your way round the Moor and back to the Brewery. It was apparent coming over the Tyne Bridge that there was a substantial breeze but as I headed out on to the Town Moor for the first frantic mile I realised we were going to be battered coming back as I was getting pushed along by a very pleasant, but very strong, tailwind. This prediction came true about halfway through the first lap as I headed back to the brewery, looking at nothing but my feet as I kept my head down, trying to tuck in behind anybody close enough to offer any protection. Fortunately this didn’t last too long and soon enough I was passing the start and heading out on my second lap. Once again I managed to pick up heading away from the start and was still hopeful of matching my sub-40 time of last year. These thoughts soon evaporated however as I really struggled turning into the wind again on the second lap. 

I finished in just over 40mins which I was more than happy with considering the training I’m currently doing. Nicola however ran a massive PB, showing that it is a fast course, even in windy conditions. I’d definitely recommend the race as for 2nd year running it’s been well organised and a pleasure to run in. 

By Ian Blakemore

Results: http://www.racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16685&RId=153&EId=1&dt=1

(editor’s note: modestly, Ian doesn’t mention a fine 3rd in his age category)