Race Rundown: Hardmoors Saltburn Trail Half Marathon, 9th February 2020

Saltburn is the first race in the 26.2 series, which take place over the year.   I’d been looking forward to giving these races a go after reading so much about it on the facebook page….one small problem….storm Ciara!  A lot of looking at different weather forecast pages in the days before in the hope that the wind and rain would somehow miss the north east, however no such luck.  I was asked by a few people whether the race would be cancelled, I knew that wouldn’t be happening as this is Hardmoors!  The philosophy seems to be the worse the conditions the better the race.

We had heard before that there had to be some changes made to the route which would mean we wouldn’t be on the cliffs for as much of it.  It did mean we had lost some of the bonus Hardmoor miles – the races are always at least a couple of miles longer than the stated 13.1,  however I certainly wasn’t feeling short changed knowing the weather we would have to be running in.

Rosie and I travelled together to Saltburn and we met up with Nicky and Stuart when we arrived.  We picked up our numbers and checked out the new route and stayed inside in the warm for as long as we could before the race started.

We were ushered out onto the road by the leisure centre just before 10am and after a quick countdown we were off.  The first part of the route was through the Valley Gardens down to the sea front.  Then there was the first of the hills up on to the top of the cliffs.  Once at the top this was where we took the detour inland and there was a quite a long gradual uphill.  I was beginning to think ‘oh my god, what have I got into!’ The horizontal rain and wind was making it tough going.

Due to the changes in route we got to go up Warsett Hill (Yay!  So kind to add that in), a very steep incline where there was no chance of doing anything other than walk.  One bonus of the walking up hills is it does give you a chance to have a jelly baby or two.  What goes up must come down and heading down the other side was pretty exhilarating having the wind on your back (got to make the most of it while you can)

There was a section where we were right on the cliff edge which was a little hairy and then we headed down on to a beach just before Skinningrove.  This was the one point of the race where we were out of the wind.  It was a short lived respite and we were quickly back into the wind and rain and a steep upward incline.

At about 6 miles in and more soggy hills I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself and had one foot on the struggle bus.  By the time we reached the top I told Rosie to go on but got a ‘don’t be daft’ in reply and on we carried (thanks Rosie!).  As we moved inland the weather did seem to ease up – certainly on the rain front, and in turn the miles went by a little easier.

We’d been told that this was one of the most urban Hardmoors and the second half of the race went through some of the villages/towns along the coast.  Not the most scenic part but it was a little easier going under foot!  Before we got back into Saltburn there were more soggy fields, feeling like you were going backwards in the winds and oh, more hills but the miles ticked by and we then saw the welcome sight of Saltburn.  We came back into the top end of the Valley Gardens and weren’t sure exactly how far we had left, but once we reappeared on to the road where we had begun the race on we knew the end was in sight.  It was a little bit of an anti-climax after battling round for over 2 ½ hours…there was no finish line to cross, just a walk up the steps into the leisure centre hall and someone reading out your race number.  Never mind, we had finished!! Really tough going and I can’t say ‘I loved it’ like Nicky did but a definite sense of achievement having battled the elements and survived!

After picking up our medal and T-shirt we could get a hot cup of tea and cake and got to catch up with Emma and Ellen who had completed the ‘10K’ (~7.5 miles) race – much more sensible in those conditions! There was also an added bonus of being at a leisure centre – hot showers!

We won’t have that luxury at the next race – Wainstones in May, but let’s hope the weather is a lot kinder and that won’t matter!

By Fay Uphill

Results: https://www.hardmoors110.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Saltburn-Half-Marathon-2020-results-1.pdf

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