Hardmoors 55 race report – 19 March 2016

Neil Ford sent through an awesome summary of the Hardmoors 55 race.

Massive congrats to Neil for coming 13th out of 360 in 9.16H.

“The weather for the Hardmoors 55 this year was absolutely perfect for racing. It was 5C in the valleys and maybe 2C on the tops but there was only a light breeze and very little rainfall. The race is 55 miles long with 2,700 metres of ascent and largely follows the route of the first half of the Cleveland Way on the North York Moors. This year it started in Helmsley and ended in Guisborough. There was a record entry of 390 runners, of whom at least 350 started the race. Helmsley town square was a great place to gather so many runners and their support teams for the pre-race talk.

Trail ultra running is becoming more popular and Jon Steele, the race director of the Hardmoors series has gained a great reputation for organising races in the area. Unlike some of the other ultra races, you feel that the entry fees are fair and that you are not been fleeced by greedy organisers.

As always, the camaraderie among the runners was brilliant and I got to meet some old friends and make some new ones as we ran. On long races you can often end up running on your own for hours on end but it’s easier if you can run with others. Conversation is usually better if you’re all enduring something as you go.

I ran with a young lad from Leeds University who turned out to be a vegan and in the second half of the race another three runners mentioned to me that they were thinking about going vegan, although I didn’t see any other VRUK t-shirts in the race.

The route broke down neatly into three sections: a relatively easier 22 miles to Osmotherly; the hilly 15 miles to the middle of the moors; and then the final 18 miles that are topographically fairly easy but it all depends on how you are feeling. My race went very well. I was comfortable on the first section but struggled a bit over the hills, so obviously I have work to do there. The final 18 miles though went like a dream. Running always with company we were able to make up time on the downhills and battle through the uphills and I’ve never felt so calm towards the end of the race. It was the first last part of an ultra that I’ve ever really enjoyed at the time rather than just feeling happy about afterwards. Perhaps I’m finally learning how to train and do these, in cool weather at least. The achievement should also help to keep me motivated over the next months and convince me that I’m moving in the right direction.”