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.
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://www.feetus.co.uk/footwear-c1/trail-multi-terrain-running-c22