HARDMOORS by Chris Smedley-Nugent


Where did it all start? Well for me it was 17th January 2017, I was sitting on the sofa with my ipad, like many others from Wetherby Runners I was avidly following the exploits of Paul Nelson who was making his way up the backbone of England as part of the Montane Spine race. I couldn’t believe that anyone could do such a thing but there he was, a little numbered flag slowly crawling across my screen. I was intrigued!

I had heard mention of ‘HARDMOORS’ races and knew that
Paul amongst others has done these races, however, that
was all I knew. A quick tap of my screen and I discovered that although they were off road (something I had never tackled) they weren’t all crazy distances so I signed up for the online newsletters.

So that’s how I found myself in Hutton le Hole on 13th August ’17 for my first ever Hardmoors race. The Rosedale 10k (a race that is neither in Rosedale nor 10K) was tough for a 10k and it took ages to get to the finish, but finish I did. It was like finishing my first marathon, I was ecstatic as I fell through the door of the village hall where the race ended. I was never going to be able to do any big distances, however I had to do more….

16th Sept ’17 I’m up early driving through the murky darkness heading for Guisborough Sea Cadets hall to see Paul Atkinson and Pete Allanac compete in the HARDMOORS 60. I meet up with Dave Carberry and Rob Whitaker who are Paul’s support team and together we stalk them from Guisborough to Filey via everywhere. It’s an amazing day and I’m inspired!

Over the next few months I do two more Hardmoors 10ks (again they weren’t 10k), then on the evening of the 22nd October ’17 whilst sitting in the Mews a plan is hatched that a group of us should do the HARDMOORS 30 on New Years day 2019, a date so far in the future that it seems unreal. Hands are shaken and all agree.

After one or two more HM 10k’s and a couple of HM half marathons, here I am at Fylingthorpe village hall on New Years day 2019. I’m frantically trying to get my shit together for the start of the longest and toughest race I have ever entered. Before I know it I’m outside and the race has started. We leave the comfort of the car park and head north along the old railway towards Whitby, it’s a gentle incline that seems to go on forever. We cross a viaduct and down some steps to c.p.1, we make our way past the railway station and across the swing bridge before turning left onto the picturesque Church Street. A moment later there they are 199 irregularly shaped steps… I take a deep breath and start my assent. On reaching the top we circumvent the Abbey and join the Cleveland way for the return journey to Robin Hoods Bay. The path isn’t too bad, however it’s far from flat and there are many steps. We return to the village hall for C.P.2 (approx 13 miles) after which we head along the old railway this time in the direction of Ravenscar. It’s another seemingly endless gentle incline until we reach C.P.3 at Ravenscar. We head through the village and back onto the railway at the south side for our next little jaunt to Hayburn Wyke. The weather up until this point has been pretty much perfect for running, however things are starting to change and there is the odd spot of rain so its time to put on a jacket. So far the terrain hasn’t been too challenging but things are going to change quite soon. After reaching the pub at Hayburn Wyke and C.P.4, I break out the poles, this proves to be the right decision as we return to the Cleveland way. It’s just up and down for the majority of the way back to Ravenscar and C.P.5. It’s at this point that darkness is getting the better of me, so on with the headtorch for the last four of five miles. I’m now running with an Irish girl and we seem to be ascending and descending steps constantly, at the bottom of each flight there’s a wooden bridge over a stream or something and then were heading up again. We see the light of Robin Hoods Bay, however first we have to tackle Boggle Hole. So down a load more steps over another bridge and up again, my legs are killing me! Whenever I lift my leg I get a burning cramp in my quads and whenever I step downwards my ITB’s are screaming for me to stop; I can’t I have to finish. We pass through a gate, turn right and follow the path around the corner. It’s lucky I’m unable to do any speed as the flagged path has crumbled into the sea, we skirt around it and begin the descent into Robin Hoods Bay. It’s beautiful in the darkness with just the odd street light and no one around. We’re now right at the bottom of the village and the village hall is right at the top, I check the time, the cut off is ages away, so we slowly trudge up the hill to finish. My feet, ankles, calves, knees, ITB’s and hips are killing me but as I walk in the hall to complete the 31 ½ mile race I realise I haven’t really stopped smiling since 9.30 this morning…. I collect my medal and t-shirt and start to eat everything I can get my hands on.

So now what? Well I’m hooked!!!! I can hear the 60 calling my name!!!! It may need
to wait a while though! I think I’ll have to train properly for that one!!!!

I would like to thank:
Andrea Normington my ‘running wife’ and ‘guardian angel’ who has been with me at every race.
Paul Atkinson for his amazing encouragement, advice and loan of poles etc
Chris Plews for being Chris Plews.
Dave Carberry, Andrew Walsh, Rob Whitaker and all the other Roseberry Ramblers for all their help and encouragement.