Woohoo, finally! Yesterday Ian Symington and I crossed the line at the same time at the Hardmoors 60, my first win in an ultra.

The race is a sixty mile race along the second half of the Cleveland Way, from Guisborough to Filey. We stayed at Mum and Dad's the night before, and they came out on the day with Lorna and Dolly the dog - it was great to have some support along the course! Mum and Dad also took loads of photos, so I'll keep this short and include plenty of them...

 The start was delayed from 8 until half past (as most competitors were still in the toilet queue at 8 o'clock), but we were soon underway on the first section, from the Sea Cadets up into Guisborough Woods, then along through the woods to Slapewath then Skelton, and finally to Saltburn where we joined the coast, which we would follow for the rest of the day. The weather was perfect, not too hot but bright and sunny. I was running in about third place, behind two guys who I didn't know, but I knew there were fast people behind me like Ian, Jim Mann and Martin Beale. As we went through the first checkpoint at Saltburn I tried not to get too excited chasing the leader, long way to go!

The next leg took us up along the spectacular coastline towards the industry at Skinningrove (Former coal mine I think), and around the edge of the village of Staithes at about 15 miles in. Earlier in this leg I had passed one of the two guys in front when he stopped for a wee and gradually pulled ahead. I didn't know the name of the guy I was running just behind, so called him "Mr. Salomon" because of his kit. Looking back along the long sections between Skinningrove and Runswick Bay I could see someone getting closer to us. After a while I could see that it was Ian, and as we got close to Runswick he caught us. I stuck with Ian and we passed Mr. Salomon, pulling out a little bit of time, but the three of us arrived into Runswick Bay pretty much together.

It was great to see Mum, Dad and Lorna at Runswick Bay, about a third of the way through the race. We arrived there after 3 hours, which was quicker than I had thought. From Runswick we cracked on North, myself and Ian running close together now, though I will admit Ian was mostly in front! From Runswick the route took us along the beach and then up a little valley at Hob Holes. This was a really nice section, it felt weird to run along the sand, then up the slippery rocks and steps back up onto the cliff top.

From there we headed off to Sandsend, which I was looking forward to as my only drop bag would be there. We arrived here together, I got my drop bag stuff then spotted a public toilet in the corner of the car park - I hadn't been feeling too good so decided to stop there. Back on my own again, shortly after Sandsend I ran through Whitby, which was interesting! The streets were really busy as I ran in and out of the tourists, along cobbled streets and up the steps to the abbey. I ended up in slightly the wrong place after the abbey, and had to jump over a wall to rejoin the Cleveland Way. 6 miles later was Robin Hood's Bay, about 33 miles through the race I reckoned. It's always nice to get to half way and I think I felt pretty good around here, though it was a bit fiddly through the village again.

After the bay we headed up to Boggle Hole, then back along the cliff edge for a couple of miles, then inland a bit more towards Ravenscar. This was about two thirds of the way through the race, and it was really nice to see the family again. Ian had a minute or two on me here and was about to leave as I stuffed my face with coke and juice. I had only carried one 500ml water bottle and had been getting quite dehydrated between checkpoints. This wasn't ideal as it meant that I'd feel sick for the first part of each leg, having had to drink loads at each one.

But after Ravenscar I knew I was heading for the finish... I ran along the road for a couple of miles, then cut across through a farm (I think I missed the official shortcut and took a slightly dodgy one actually). From there it was 7 miles till Scarborough, it was starting to hurt now but the views were still spectacular! I could see Ian maybe 300m in front and he looked strong, but I wondered whether I was still looking strong too? Maybe...

I was running with Ian when we entered Scarborough, and together we negotiated our way through the town. The checkpoint was a bit tricky to find, but we eventually found it. Not too far now, though I was feeling pretty rubbish. Looking back I could see Scarborough, between the castle and Olivers Mount. Ian had got a few minutes on me again and we headed past Osgodby, then past a couple of campsites, then finally past the biggest caravan site I had ever seen! Another two miles later I cut in off the Cleveland Way, down into Filey. Ian had gone a slightly different way to me, I thought he would probably finish before me. I had probably accepted second place, but was feeling slightly better now, so it was quite an exciting run in towards the school. Eventually Ian and I arrived at the school together, at 3 minutes past 6.

According to my certificate we finished with a time of 9:25. I was given the first place trophy and second place certificate, Ian the opposite. Martin Beale finished a bit later in third.

Thanks to race organiser Jon Steele for a fantastic race, Mum, Dad, and Lorna for the support, and to the weather - the north east really looked it's best yesterday. Thanks also Ian, great to race with you. It was fantastic to get my first win and you certainly all helped! Well done everyone who ran, hope you had a great race!


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