A couple of months I saw a post advertising a marathon from the Hardmoors. I admit I had never heard of the series. The race, Roseberry 26.2, was full so I put my name down on the waiting list and thought nothing more of it until I received an offer of a place 2.5 weeks ago. The race was to take place 1.5 weeks later.
This is when it got ‘interesting’.
I had no idea whether to accept the place. I think this was the 1st time I was genuinely unsure of my abilities and what to do for the best. Now those of you who have read my previous blogs will be aware I’ve run several 50ks up to over 50 miles. So taking part in a 26.2 trail should be a no-brainer?
Ha! Since running Gower 50 (51.6 miles) I decided to take October easy. My longest run was about 6-8 miles. Then in November my fella was admitted to hospital and I fell really ill. November running was a complete right off! My longest run was 12 miles….a week before Hardmoors. I guess you can see why I was unsure of accepting the place! But I did accept the place 🙂
It’s not 26.2 miles. It’s just over 30! It has an elevation gain of about 4,300 feet. Hilly little bugger.
On the morning of the race we had a very thorough briefing from the race director in the Scout HQ (no parking at HQ!). Most of what he said meant nothing to me as I didn’t know the area or the route. The race started at 8am. Cut off time was 10 hours.
As we set off there was about 5 mins of easy running before every one started to walk. I did wonder why, as we were only going up a gradual incline but as I was a Hardmoor virgin I did the same. Always best to follow the more experienced.
Things get a little blurry from here. But reaching Roseberry Topping I can’t forget! I knew we had to climb this little sucker twice (it’s about 1000 feet to the top) so when I did the first climb I thought ‘it’s not too bad, I can do this again’.
After the 1st climb, we dropped down the other side and the climb back up was considerably more difficult that way! The slippy stones, mud and leaves added that extra entertainment factor. As I approached the top third I saw the race sweepers running down. I was gutted but then I quickly resigned myself to the fact the race was going to be slow and I hoped the sweepers wouldn’t kick me off the route. I merrily carried on.
Now there are about 3 more sections I clearly remember: one was a long stretch of road climb, the other two were moor runs -somewhere between 3-5 hrs and for the last 5 or so miles (I think). There was a point I fell over into a stream overflow(?) but I have no idea where that was! I also remember lots of hills. And hills. And hills. I was on my own for a good portion of the race but the route markings were really clear and I didn’t need my map at any point. This also meant I had lost the sweepers…yay me! I couldn’t see anyone behind or in front of me so I assumed my progress was OK.
In fact as time went on, I started to catch up with several runners….and over take them! Now this was a good feeling. It was at this point I started to set my sights on any runner I could see ahead and aim to over take them. I just kept thinking ‘improve my female finish position’. Not competitive – honest 😉 I think I over took about 15 runners.
My favourite bit was the final descent, running through the woodland, lots of mud, a bit of mist, and runners to overtake! I even managed some attempt at a sprint finish of 8mm as I came out of the woods heading into the village towards the finish line (past some scary nervous acting horses).
The finish line was inside the Scout HQ and you had to give your number before your time was recorded. I finished in 7.07 hours. They handed out the pink medal and Tee. The tee is a good quality technical one but I wasn’t fussed about the medal. There was hot drinks available and the rice n chilli was at a cost of £2.
The terrain was definitely trail. I encountered, fields, mud, moorland, bogs, track, stony paths, mud, tarmac, forest trails, mud. Did I mention there was mud? My choice of shoe was not suitable for the mud! But the views were to die for. They really were.
The aid stations were perfect! For me anyway. I love Haribo, marshmallows and Dandelion n Burdock. The marshals were also amazing. So encouraging, happy and generally in really good spirits, even though they were in the middle of nowhere.
Apart from an amazing race experience, cracking views, and the chance to explore a new area, I learnt a few things.
- I can run 30 miles even with very little running done in the previous 10 weeks.
- I do have some endurance
- I still seem to recover really quickly (All DOMS gone by Tuesday night)
- I need to have more confidence in what I can do
- I probably could have finished a lot quicker based on the above but I really did enjoy just plodding.
- I aiming to go back next year.
So I say thank you Hardmoors. I shall be back 😉
Final stats – finish time 7.07.08. 27th/66 Female 9th/26 FV40 106th/165