Hardmoors Roseberry Marathon – Series Done

The final marathon of the 2020/21 Hardmoors Marathon Series was the Roseberry race setting off bright and early from Guisborough Sea Cadets centre on Sunday 12th December. After Goathland I’d not run a massive amount and my preparation was further hindered by a (new) work Christmas party in Birmingham on the Friday evening and the traditional ‘Marks’ party on the Saturday but I was keen to get it done!

Mr T dropped me in the car park down the road just before 730am, I walked up, checked in and then tried to buy a cup from Lee from Lets Run as I’d forgotten mine – unfortunately Lee and Shelli had forgot theirs too! Before I knew it we were lining up ready for the off.

The start is a long 1km drag uphill towards the Belmont Bank entrance to Guisborough Woods, bottlenecking at a stile on the right hand side just before the gate.

I’d met Chris at the centre so we ran up together, across the fields and into the woods and then around to the infamous Tees Link. The ground seemed reasonably dry so I was vaguely optimistic as we began to climb what is always the muddiest path in the woods. It was muddy but probably the driest i’ve known it. We passed the metal signpost at the top, crossed the fire road and continued to climb the even steeper path to the underside of the nab.

A quick catch of the breath and we continued to pick up the Cleveland Way which we followed onto the moor. The weather was fantastic for December with the sun just rising as we followed the flagged path across Hutton Moor and across towards Roseberry Topping.

The next section involves descending the horrible steep path down Little Roseberry before climbing and descending the Teesside Matterhorn twice – as we started the first descent we came across a runner who’d twisted his ankle and was hobbling painfully trying to work out the shortest route to be collected. I took extra caution after this on the slippy descent but made it safely down to see the first lady, second overall, pass me as she’d already completed the Roseberry section! I continued to climb up to the summit strongly to be greeted by Father Christmas but slowed as always on the descent, I do enjoy passing all the other runners on their way back up though. I caught the speedier on the downhills Chris again at the bottom chatting to the marshalls from Lets Run group and we climbed back up and over again.

I pulled ahead of Chris as I climbed well up Little Roseberry and across the moor towards Captain Cooks monument. There was an orienteering event taking place in Gribdale but I passed through safely and joined a few others as we climbed up to the monument, one being a lady I’d ran much of the White Horse marathon with and a chap who turned out to be a friend of a friend when I posted the picture on Facebook afterwards! I love the section from the monument to the road so enjoyed a relaxed run for a change, quickly filled my bottles and descended to Kildale. The steep road section did take a bit of a toll on my knees and I was glad when things flattened out – briefly – before I knew it I was climbing up The Park, a km long road steep climb up onto the moor top.

We’d been urged to fill water bottles at the marshall station here as the next stop was another 8 miles on so I refilled and was on my way. I’d hobbled this section on my Cleveland Way run in 2020 and very nearly given in but was hoping to be a bit more mobile today – I was and happily ran walked my way across Battersby Moor in the direction of Bloworth Crossing. Although I was moving better it still felt a long long way as the weather came in too. Eventually I reached the junction at exactly 24km where I turned to the left and met the coldest marshall of the day – this one had definitely drawn the short straw!

I was on my own at this point and in quite unknown territory so I kept an eye on the map as I followed the moorland track zigzagging over the bridge at Armouth Wath which is actually the remains of an old coal mine and along Skinner Howe Cross Road, the old track between Whitby and Baysdale Abbey. The track crossed Great Hograh beck on a little bridge and then began to deteriorate into a single track muddy mess! Here all those behind began to catch me as we covered the final km across the moor and onto the road.

We reached the next marshall point which was low on water but had enough to fill my bottle as I continued on picking up the Esk Valley Walk and route of the Great Fryupdale marathon from back in August. More caught me up here as we continued on our way along a single track and dropped steeply down to cross the beck and onto the road into Castleton. Chris rejoined me here as we crossed over the main Esk bridge, under the railway and then picked up the bridleway towards Commondale. The single track undulates and at one point we had to drive off to our left as a chap in a hire van flew past us!

It seemed to go on forever but after around 2km we dropped down into Commondale, turning left at the pub – or what was the pub – and climbing back out towards the final marshall point on the horizon beside a small copse of trees ahead. Here I decided to fill one of my bottles with coke (remember the missing cup from the start) which was a bad idea – fizzy pop in a running flask doesn’t work – before we continued on the final section across the moor back towards Guisborough Woods.

i was back with Chris who knew this section well. Initially we were on a farm track before turning off to drop very steeply to cross a small, very slippery, bridge over a stream circling around the edge of the farm. A short section of single track and then we were back on a moorland track for a couple of km with great views across to the sea as the sun dropped on the day. We reached a cairn and our path across the moor to the right – another boggy single track path. I tried to keep up with Chris but he was much faster than I over the muddy terrain so as I reached the woods in the impending darkness I was all alone.

I popped on my head torch as I dropped into the woods and realised quickly where I was at the end of the mountain bike track ‘no dabs’. I knew where I was but not where I was going! I dropped to the junction but couldn’t see any tape nor could I work out from the map where to go – straight ahead didn’t seem the right route with a steep drop off. I decided to bank on left as I knew that would descend to the right place and shortly after spotted yellow tape on a bush on my right. As I began to descend I wish I hadn’t and had stayed on the fire road I knew! The track wasn’t too bad to start with but rather than continuing winding down on solid track my route took a sharp left down a very steep and very muddy path through the trees.

I picked my way cautiously down as day became night and was massively relieved to reach the gate out of the woods for the final km downhill back to the finish. Mr T was waiting on the junction as I turned right into the driveway, avoided the children in the centre hallway and crossed the finish line in the main hall.

I finished the 49km route, with 2315m of climbing in 7:36 – link here – which I was pretty happy with – there were a few tough muddy sections but nothing like the Goathland route a month earlier.

And that concludes the Hardmoors Marathon Series – a little disrupted by the dreaded covid as Saltburn was ran early in 2020 and then the remaining 6 in 2021 – but all done

13/06/2021White Horse44.43km06:25:05

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