Report from OAC’s Graham Lake:
I’d had my eye (more of which later) on this trail series set in and around the North Yorkshire Moors for a while and as this race started from my home town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea it seemed rude not to give it a go.
This is part of a series of races all with a full Marathon, Half or 10k option and as my training had been limited due to a dodgy achilles I went for the half option.
My brother Andy was going to run too, so we both went up to register nice and early and listen to the race briefing which was definitely brief: “follow the yellow tape”.
So, the marathon and half-marathon runners all set off at 10am on a sunny but breezy Sunday morning, maybe about 120 in all.
Diving down into Rifts Wood I got off to a rather painful start when something big hit my eye-lid, followed by a sharp pain – a bumble bee had stung me! Luckily big bro’ was on hand to pull the sting out “It’s fine, I’ve just been on a first aid course”. Ouch.
Anyway, off we went, climbing out of the woods and following the Cleveland Way up Airy Hill, where the two routes split.
A fight with some brambles and nettles followed before the first ‘navigational adventure’. Myself and another runner stopped at a cross-roads to see where the tape went but couldn’t see any. Ran down the obvious lane and low and behold some tape, so carried on. We then saw the leaders running back towards us saying they’d seen no tape for ages. We then checked my map (I was only one with map) and saw we shouldn’t have gone down the ‘obvious lane’ at all. So I re-calculated the route and we all headed off to dissect the race route again.
We were now running between the various old mining villages of East Cleveland and our second ‘navigational adventure’ happened when some tape suggested right (and one of the marshals had said it was right) so we went right.
It wasn’t right.
I now had made some lovely new running friends thanks to my solitary map, so we huddled and decided on another route, finding our way back on course quite easily but some other runners (including my bro’, who had probably, you know, checked the route) had caught us up.
An uneventful slog over Warsett Hill and down to the coastal mining town of Skinningrove. I was picking up places on the downhills as I’m guessing most runners were of the road variety.
Again the tape ran out at the crucial point (possibly taken as souvenirs by locals) and I decided to follow the route on the map which went straight up through a scrubby wood replete with old cans, shopping trolleys etc but the other four runners decided to take the road route. I popped out just past the marshal point so backed over to give him my number and ask if I’m going the right way “Not sure mate”.
I’d made some time up, so was actually leading at this point as we headed round the stunning cliff top of Huntcliff, views right up the coast to Sunderland and the new windfarm at Tees mouth, along with the first view of Saltburn and the leisure centre in the distance.
I slowly got picked off by two chaps from Knavesmire, one Leeds City (I think) and a couple of others, my legs had nothing in them and I felt really shattered, having done no long runs for weeks.
As we descended to the beach I caught two up and we started up into the woods (not knowing that the two leaders had completely missed this turning). As I was on familiar territory I kept the three of us right through the woods, although I had to call one of them back who’d started heading back to the sea! In fact he then got lost again.
So that left two of us to head back out of the woods and along the road for half a mile back to the leisure centre, my running partner leaving me for dust as we approached the finish and a nice loud cheer from the family.
So, I knew I was either second or fifth depending on where the others had got to, a quick check as we got into the leisure centre hall showed they’d managed to get back before us, so fifth it was (123.39).
Lovely cakes, tea, sausage rolls etc on offer at the end and we all had a good laugh about the adventurous morning we’d had! My bro’ came in not far back in eleventh, so a good morning for the Lake running club.
This was the first time they’d run this particular race, so some teething problems expected. I just think stipulating carrying a map and being responsible for your own navigation might have helped stop us just ‘following the tape’, even when the tape was in the wrong place. Anyways, I’m sure they’ll improve for next year as the series is obviously popular and a good half-way-house between fell running and road.
For those who like such things, the route (nearly 15 miles!) is here.
Results from here.