Neil Ford: Hardmoors 60

We hear from Neil Ford (I’m impressed he’s recovered enough to do a report!!)

Race: Hardmoors 60

Distance: 62 (or possibly 64 miles!) with 3,500 metres of climb

Date: Saturday 21 September

Neil Ford, 12 hours 2 minutes and 20 seconds; 14^th out of 91 finishers

and about 150 starters. 4^th male V40.

The Hardmoors 60 mostly follows the route of the Cleveland Way on the

North York Moors, from Guiborough to Filey, via Saltburn, Whitby and

Scarborough. This was my big race of the year. The one I had prepared

everything else around and the one I tapered down for properly. However,

I give myself 10 out of 10 for effort but 2 out of 10 for execution. I

spent so much mental energy working out how to shave seconds off my time

that I forgot about the things that chop hours off. After 20 miles I was

feeling good and in 4^th place but simply forgot to eat and drink

enough. By the time I realised that I was in trouble, it was already

difficult to eat because my mouth was so dry. A lack of liquid and

calories reduced my IQ by about 50 points and I made a string of stupid

navigational mistakes, which is quite impressive when you consider that

the path more or less follows the coastline on high cliffs.

It would’ve been a real schoolboy era, if schoolboys were allowed to run

ultras, which thankfully they are not. I still managed to run the first

half of the course in 5 hours but took just over 7 hours for the second

half. As always with ultras and fell races, I have already blocked out

most of the horrors I went through on what was an otherwise beautiful

day. Afterwards, I worked out that my mistake was down to eating and

drinking with the regularity that I would in a training run of this

length, when I’d usually run at 4-5 miles an hour and take in the

scenery. Ultra racing requires more like 6-7 miles an hour on this kind

of ground, so the outcome was inevitable. I will try to put this one

down to experience and come back again next year. I’m hoping to do the

Hardmoors 110 next year but will have to organise my food like a

military operation if I’m to get round.

My own performance aside, I can heartily recommend the Hardmoors series

to anyone. They are well organised by Jon Steele and his team, who can

offer plenty of advice, provide food and water on the course; and all at

a reasonable price, unlike the private companies who put price tags in

excess of £100 on similar races. The atmosphere of camaraderie at these

ultras is also great, with fellow runners helping each other out,

including with navigation and a round of applause at the finish line, no

matter what your time. Happy running!