Osmotherley Phoenix 2013 (17-Miler) Race Report

Wow – What a hot, hot day. After such a miserable start to summer, the sun finally reared its head for the Osmotherley Phoenix 2013.

I had originally registered for the 33-mile option, but over the past few months had started taking a preference to shorter races, and my head was turned by the 17-mile option.

The atmosphere at the start was brilliant. The sun was out and the place was buzzing. There was about 400 people at the start, including some familiar faces.

After a brief warm up I toed the line (the only runner in Vibram FiveFingers!!), only to find that I had lost my wooden chip needed for one of the checkpoints. Hopeless. I made the race director aware, and it didn’t seem to be a problem.

The Start Line
The Start Line

The countdown saw an awesome crowd make their way out of Osmotherley up the first climb of the day before taking a left on to the wonderful Cleveland Way long distance footpath. I used to use this route from Osmotherley regularly for mountain biking years ago so it was nice to re-trace familiar ground.

I sat in 4th behind a lead pack who I understood to have been running the 33-mile option. After five miles I sat back and waited for others to catch up. There was no point me pushing on because I had not done a recce of the route, nor had I read the route description, had a map or a compass, so I had absolutely no idea where I was going.

It was nice to spend the next few miles running with friend Adam Breckon, who runs a fantastic vegan/endurance sports blog here. We ran through woodland, up steep hills, over stiles, through gates, up old steps, atop the Moors. It was wonderful.

“The Fool On The Hill”

Descending from Carlton Bank, I expected to be leading the 17-mile race. I took my time, had a drink and was told that two of the front three had made their way on to the 17-mile route. I turned to see they were a good 4+ minutes ahead so I made a dash for them to try and stick to their heels. A lapse in concentration during a short climb, and I lost sight of them.

I stood at the top of a bank looking out. I spent a few minutes scanning the ground below, monitoring the horizon, and couldn’t see them. I knew there would be no chance of catching them now; that the only thing to do would be to wait for the next runner to catch up so I could stick to them until the finish.

Another five minutes passed and not a single soul passed my way. I decided to make my way back down the way I had come, only to find I had taken a complete wrong turn. What an idiot. I ran as fast as I could to re-join the small group that had formed at the front of the ‘peloton’.

“With A Little Help From My Friends”

Cutting a long story short, I stuck with two runners (one of which had won this race a few years prior) in this group until the last corner of the race. I ran when they ran, stopped when they stopped, and walked when they walked. I would have been lost otherwise. I felt guilty, having been guided by these two runners for the last 8-9 miles, only to speed off from them 300 yards from the finish to clinch third place.

It was a strange race. I loved the route – so scenic and diverse, but my own stupidity of having not recce’d the route beforehand meant I couldn’t race it properly. I don’t think I could have beaten the front two, but I know I could have definitely shaved 10-15 minutes off my final time of 2 hours 50.


Interested in buying Vibram FiveFingers? Get yours at feetus.co.uk 

Click here to see my review of the Vibram FiveFingers Trek Sport Sandals I wore in the event.

Click here to visit the Osmotherley Phoenix website.


The Hardmoors Rosedale 13.1 (Half Marathon) Race Report

Part of a brand-new series of marathon, half-marathon, and 10K distance races known as ‘The Hardmoors 26.2 Trail Marathon Series’, in the beautiful North York Moors, I lined up for the inaugural Hardmoors Rosedale Half Marathon 2013.

The weather forecast was mixed, and even when toeing the line at 10am, we still had no idea whether the sun would remain or the clouds would bring rain. Fortunately for us, we benefitted from the former!

3, 2, 1, GO!

50 or so of us moved through picturesque Hutton le Hole, taking a left turn at the top. I hadn’t planned to lead from the start, but that’s just the way it panned out. This did have its drawback. Within the first mile there must have been four separate gates, each with their own unique fiddly opening mechanism, meaning any time gained during this first stretch was hampered.

Shortly after, I lost sight of the markers and headed up a hill. Being the leader, naturally those behind followed, and I lead a dozen runners a short distance away from the route before realising we’d gone wrong. I have a tendency to get lost and decided, for the remainder of the race, to stick to the front of the race but necessarily to lead.

The next 7 – 8 miles were very rewarding. Myself and another runner left the pack and made some good distance. The route was absolutely stunning with a real mix of terrain: single-track, heather, mash, tarmac, as well as the occasional hop across a stream. Hills were aplenty and we covered woodland, farmers fields and barely-used trails. Trail running heaven.

Straight after the second checkpoint came a huge hill – A real calf burner. I gained considerable time over 2nd place during this long ascent. Despite the sun hammering down, I managed a consistent pace and reached the top, awash with sweat, but still feeling strong.

Over plains I ran before the route followed the old railway line. Views over the valley were sublime, all the fields coming to life in the (rare!) sun.

After a few miles further I arrived at the third and final checkpoint on the infamous Chimney Bank where, during a quick swig of water, was told to continue up the bank and turn off at the top. This is where things went wrong.

Hardmoors 26.2 Rosedale Feetus
Hitting the top of Chimney Bank


After following the route markers that lined the right of the road to the top, there was a marker on the top to the left next to a path. It seemed only logical that this meant the route would continue left back on to the trail. Five minutes later I was alarmed having not seen a marker since the road. I slowed down to a stop, and studied the landscape in search for a marker. I waited for 2nd place and we both agreed that we must be on the right track despite no markers. Another two miles without a marker confirmed we had definitely taken a wrong turn, and also that our efforts to carve out a good lead had been in vain. There was no point turning back – and instead we continued, asking passers-by the best route back to Hutton le Hole.

We added an extra 3.5 miles on in total, in addition to a stream crossing and a punishing valley descent/ascent. We arrived in to the Village Hall disappointed to have finished in 9th and 10th positions in a race that, if not for our carelessness, should have been won by either of us by a considerable distance.


Despite the result, the race was fantastic. Excellent organisation, great support, perfect weather, and the best half marathon route I have ever had the pleasure to run. The Hardmoors series of races are incredible. I cannot wait for the next.

For more information on this fantastic trail running series, head over to: http://262.hardmoors110.org.uk/cms/?q=node/1 

And if you’re looking for trail-specific shoes, be they ‘barefoot’ or minimal, check out Feetus’ range here: http://feetus.co.uk/footwear-c1/trail-multi-terrain-running-c22