Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Hardmoors 26.2 Series, Goathlands Marathon

26.2ish it read at the top of my number and ish it was 27.9 actually which I see as extra value for money no?
After a rather damp day in a deserted Whitby perfecting my carb loading technique at the Magpie Café and having a go at aquaplaning on the way to Goathland I had feared the worst. But I woke to a crisp clear morning in the quite North York Moors Village of Goathland or Aidensfield or Hogsmead take your pick, for a second marathon in two weeks and I feel like a kid at Christmas for some reason.
Since my earlier races this year I have managed to put some more structured training together and I am going to have to accept that I am not quite the incompetent slow coach that I have always made out. I suddenly seam to be running 8 minute miles and even 7:20’s on my short run and I really have know idea how that happened. I am certainly not going call my self a marathon runner nor am I going to break any records but I am improving. So this is going to be the next test.
Anyhow back to Goathland. After an early breakfast at the Lovely Heatherdene B&B (Fab place, highly recommended, lovely owners, top breakfast and very helpful) I made my way down to the Village Hall for my first encounter for the Marshall of Omni Presence found here directing traffic. There is a small queue but it moves quickly and registration is completed with a quick flash of the Waterproof Jacket . A quick bit of retail therapy at the Chia Charge Stand and a Chat with Tim “The Chia Man” Taylor sees me equipped with a new Buff and some Chia Charge Flap Jacks and its off for a final sort out of numbers, shoes, stretching and Coffee provided by the little coffee van The Coffee Stop outside the hall. I like races with proper coffee and this is the best yet.
Shortly before 9 we’re called in to the Hall for the race briefing and as is traditional the 130 odd marathon runners pile in like sardines and are treated to Jon Steele’s race briefing, He is notorious for his stretchy tape measure and announces that the distance for the Marathon is 27.9miles, *Small Cheer* for the half marathon 13.2 for the Half, *Small Cheer and the odd boo* he says that is a bit short I appreciate so the 10k is 8 miles to make up for it *Huge Cheer*.  The usual suspects are then covered  don’t follow people like sheep, the course is marked but tape can move close gates look after the place, look after each other  and close gates. We all head back out for the start. Few minutes later were off and head down the road and on to an Old Railway line down to the river Esk we follow the up and down path along river with some small scrambley sections over greasy limestone past the Mallyan Spout waterfall, which is in full flow after the rain of the last few days and looks quite spectacular. At a turn marked by the Marshall of Omni Presence found this time cheerfully waving us up the Steps that take the route back up to the end of Goathland and then out on to the moors and the beginning of the mud proper as we cross the moors to Hunt House and Check Point one. A quick coke and a thanks to the marshals and its up over the top and down to the point where the Half Marathon splits off were directed left as the first of the Halfers go flying Right at least I am beating them this far as I start the climb up to Simon Howe and checkpoint 2 I started get some discomfort in my Achilles it’s a bit of a slog up to the checkpoint by the standing stone and the Marshalls are ensconced in their tent this is a wild place where they will be for a long time as this is a also the last check point as the route comes back the other way. As I start to run down hill I fall in behind a runner and we descend Simon How Rigg and we start to over take a few small groups  and Hitting the woods at Wardle Green and over take a few more on the gentle climb before the swamp of a forest ride that leads to check point 3 at Wardle Rigg and a chance to refill and refuel I hand over my bottle and I am in formed I am Shivering like a Sh1tt1ng Dog as I sutruggle not to empty the whole tube of Elecrolyte tabs in to the bottle. I grab some Flap Jack and Jelly babies and I am away along the fire road and the step decent down to the railway and more fire road I am over taken by 2 runners one  I manage to stay with the second one along the undulating track when suddenly he peals off Right. Lucky! If Id have been on my own I may well have cruised along past the turning we cross the railway splash through more bog, trees and start the slippery climb out my Achilles starts to give me some real grief up this climb and in a dark moment contemplate how I would deal with recovering from a ruptured tendon. And In a Darker One contemplate DNF at the next Check Point.  The Route turns to follow a moor land shelf above the North York Moors railway passing behind Skelton Tower the ruin that can be seen high above the Railway. There is a marshal and Mr Steele himself waiting at the turning point for the climb up on to Levisham moor and Check Point 4 Do I bail? Well its been OK on the flat… ummm “If Bone ain’t Showing keep on going!” nah keep going you’ll run it off.  My navigational saviour stops to don a waterproof as it is just starting to spit with rain I dig mine out as I climb (Constant forward motion and all that) and he wasn’t seen again.  Check Point 4 has quite a crowd a Marshall offers to fill my bottle very kind of him I stuff some flap jack in and Grab some jelly babies and head off juggling them across the moor Passing a couple in the dip in there Sunday best with umbrellas its now raining properly so good look to them I think as I start the long steady pull along the ridge which will eventually lead to Hole of Horcum.
I am looking forward to this section. Its in an area that I have passed through since I was a kid on trips to Whitby and never been able/got round to exploring I think part of the fun of these trail events is going to places that you wouldn’t normally go those bits that are a bit to far away for a day walk and too small or close to something bigger and better for a weekend.  Rivington 2 weeks ago was beautiful, the L50 took me over to Mardale and Longsled dale areas of the lakes that you wouldn’t normally go to 3 Rings of Shap like wise.  So here’s a chance to see without looking through the car window well it would have been had the clag not been in.
The long drag ends at the Hole of Horcum and even in the clag you can tell it’s an impressive bit of geography. Check point 6 is at 15.5 miles starting to feel it now as were marshalled across the road to the boot of a car for more water flap jacks and Jelly babies I have a walking rest as I eat and drink and I am caught by Ben who it transpires is training for the MDS not exactly similar condition I say as as we splash down the track. As we approach the turn which is wrapped up with that much yellow ribbon it bears a passing resemblance to a Christmas present I comment that its impossible to miss as two runners do exactly that and go flying past, we’re nice we shout them back, descending we pass a shaggy and aloof lama which looks unimpressed by our efforts and  start another short climb towards RAF Fylingdales once of Golf ball fame now home of the giant sand castle this area is immensely boggy and we splash and slide our way towards the base could this be part of the cold war defences? Ben is Ex Army and explains that the improbably group of caravans in the base are a fixture of pretty much every army base I examine the pill boxes and think I wouldn’t fancy being in there with an invading army approaching. We continue along the back of the base and on to rough Landover tracks which take a little of the sting out of the most open and desolate part of the course. I loose Ben along here I had been chatting with him for a while before I realised he’s not here. Opps I start to play leap frog with a few groups but eventually leave them behind for now.  There is brief relief when the tracks run out as they are very hard on the feet and ankles as I approach the Cross on Lilla Howe to find yet again the Marshal of Omni Presence Standing in the Rain the weather is bloody and I thank him shake his hand and ask who he up set to get posted here but he says he’s quite happy. I head in to the head waters of Ella beck quite literally at times. Bring back the Land Rover track all is forgiven. The next three KM seams to take forever as My GPS had a funny here I don’t know how long it actually took it also featured 1 very elegant dismount I might add as my foot goes from under me and I pirouette in to bank of reeds. I was caught by one of the groups I had been playing leap frog with and I managed to stay with them as we splash down towards the next check point we are slowed by a couple of streams crossing which are knee deep following the heavy rain of the last few days Check Point 8 at Eller Beck Bridge another land mark of childhood trips to Whitby arrives and bottles refilled coke quaffed flap jack and jelly babies consumed I chase the group down again as we cross back over the NYM Railway and start the pull up to Simon Howe and Checkpoint 2/9 finally it comes in to view and were checked off by the marshal who has only his nose stuck out the tent in these foul conditions it one thing running in them its quite another being sat out all day.  the group I am with seams intent on going back the route we came to this point rather than the more direct finishing route and its with a pang of guilt that I over take them while they dither as I wouldn’t have been quite so quick here had they not unknowingly towed me along to Eller beck bridge. The last section is a complete quagmire and the Somme like conditions seem quite appropriate for remembrance weekend. I just manage to pass by rather than over the remains of 2 sheep as I approach Two Howes and the final decent towards Goathland I am edging closer to the runner in front finally catching and pass her on the last bit of moor before the village but she has more in the tank as I slow up the little hill and she pulls away on the last 500meter to the Village Hall I have no response but I just about manage a wave as Flip Owen takes my picture as I ran down the road fuelled by the well done’s  and clapping of the few bystanders . Final turn and in to the Village hall gates Applause from the on lockers which always brings a smile to my face as I think are they clapping me? Oh yes they are. In to the hall and my time is recorded I forget to ask 5:43:10 in my time happy with that one.
I feel a bit disorientated as I stand in the heat of the hall and I am tapped on the shoulder and handed medal and T-Shirt. I find my way to a seat and Survey the enormous buffet of cakes sausage rolls and soup. Ben appears it the doorway some 10 minutes after me and we have a chat over soup and cake before we head of our separate ways to sort out and head home I go and change tops and put on all my kit for the work up to road and after half an hour sitting in the nice warm hall its still a shock as I manage a very slow walk back up the hill to the B&B despite pulling on my big primaloft jacket I am shivering and have no feeling in my hands by the time I have removed my Shoes and stowed my wet gear in the car before venturing in side despite have spent the best part of 3 hours in the rain I am glad to climb in to the hot shower.
Next morning confirms that I have done some running as following the obligatory full English a wander round the village confirms that the legs don’t work when going down hill and there’s a definite lake of energy going up hill! Its quite a strange feeling but one that is quite satisfying.    
My name is Richard Martin I am a runner….. There said it.

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