Roseberry Topping is the distinctive icon of the North York Moors. I spend a lot of time running the trails around (and up) Topping, and its one of those places thats great to take the kids. When I saw that this race was to feature on the Hardmoors Marathon Series, I wasn’t going to miss it.
I had tried to recce the route a few weeks before the event, but the downloadable course map presented just the first 3 and the last 3 miles of the route. This meant that the middle 7-miles was up to me to decipher. Not ideal, but it was still good training.
The week before the race had been the busiest of my life. It was my first-ever ‘busy Christmas period’ as an online retailer at Feetus.co.uk, and it went absolutely crazy with sales. By midweek, my slipped disc was playing up, so I did absolutely no training that week except a big of yoga and stretching.
On race day, I packed my gear in to a dry bag, and strapped it to my bike. I thought that the ride would help me decide whether my bad back would be too much of an issue to ride with or not. After riding to the start line (just 6 miles) to Guisborough, my back felt the best it had all week. I changed in to my running gear and picked up my race number. As with every Hardmoors event, the camaraderie was brilliant.
Out of the Sea Cadets HQ, a few of us took an early front position. The route starts with a gradual climb on the road, before entering the muddy trails of Guisborough Forest, where the gradient is significantly steeper and technical. During these first couple of miles, we overtook a lot of the marathon runners (who had started 15-minutes before) on the tricky, slippery sections.
Ascending is definitely my strength, and I spent this period comfortably leading the way. Descending from Highcliffe, I slipped back in to third and chose to reserve a little bit of energy for a push up Roseberry Topping.
One of the lads in our front pack was a road runner, and seemed to lag on the technical descents. It was nice to make a bit of a gap during the descent from Little Roseberry, before catching up with the lead at the foot of Roseberry Topping. At this point, we were ushered by who we thought were race marshals to follow one track, when we actually should have dropped a little further down. This meant we added on, perhaps, about half a mile as we detoured around Roseberry Topping. Many of the runners behind us followed, so we didn’t lose any time from this mistake.
Climbing Roseberry Topping was lovely. I love the feel of lactic acid you get from running hills. I was first to the top, and held the lead during the descent, and back up Little Roseberry. I felt fine, but then something strange happened.
As I was running the Cleveland Way section between Little Roseberry and Captain Cook’s Monument, it was as though a switch went off inside of me that decided not to race any more. I had no fatigue, and I felt comfortable with the pace. I shouted behind me to second-place to catch me up, thinking the company would spur me on to keep momentum. It didn’t.
At around 8-miles, as I slipped in to second, I pretty much gave up. Less than a mile later, I dropped to third. During the climb up to Monument, I was passed again by another runner. He looked strong and consistent, and seemed to be moving faster than the others at the front.
From this point on I never saw another runner behind me, and I comfortably plodded along at a training pace.
Coming back in to Guisborough Forest, I knew where I was going… Until the red tape that marks the course seemed to be branching another direction. Although this direction felt like a detour, it felt only right to follow it. Several other runners who were in the 10K race also headed this direction. It became clear after a mile without course marker that I had taken the wrong turn. I cursed myself as I continued in the wrong direction, hoping for a turn-off to drop back down to the Forest entrance.
As I finally found my way back through, my bad luck continued as I got stuck behind a horse on a stretch of single track. The rider asked me to hold back, and I was left walking behind horse and rider for a while. During this time, I was caught by another runner, but he very gentlemanly did not challenge for my position as we strolled in to the Finish.
5th Place Finish
My detour had taken me some way out, and cost me another place. With a total mileage of 15.5 miles, I finished 5th.
Despite this post sounding very pessimistic, I wasn’t too disappointed with the result. I enjoyed the course, the weather (cold, but no rain!), and the atmosphere. Taking wrong turns and dropping places needlessly has become commonplace for me!