Fran In A Fever Over Ultra

New Years Eve, 2012 the first time I have ever gone to bed before midnight on New Years Eve. Not only that, but I was ‘Des’ for the evening. Crazy!
I’d had a fever on Boxing Day and an annoying cough ever since, I hadn’t run at all since Christmas Day in the hopes I could recover.

New Years Day came and I got up at silly o’clock (still coughing) for the drive to Ravenscar, it was a little icy in places but nothing too scary. I got there in plenty of time and got signed on. We had the option to start at 9am instead of 10am, I liked that and toyed with the idea I may even finish in the daylight…

I said ‘Hello’ to Lisrun – for real this time! Had a hug with Flip and basically got ready to go.
There’s little point warming up for a 30 mile run, so we all hovered outside acclimatising to the frosty air. It was going to be a glorious day, frosty, no breeze, clear blue sky, perfect.

At 9am, Jon the RD set us off! We were away down the track and onto the cliff tops, running along wet grass. The running felt great, the path gently undulates a while before reaching the wooden steps which drop dramatically down, almost to sea level at Hayburn Wyke. OH and I had recced this a few weeks ago so I was confident of the route and soon found the self clip point. I declared to another runner ‘That’s 4 miles down, just a marathon to go!’
I ran with a chap from York and a lady from Sheffield past (past??) the pub at Hayburn and onto the cinder track. We chatted on and off as we ran along back to Ravenscar village hall. 8 miles down, the big mug of tea that the marshal had looked very tempting…
Through the village and back onto the cinder track. I am familiar with this part of the track, and the chap from York and I continued to run together, he informed me we were doing 10 minute miles, happy with that. We reached Robin Hoods Bay in no time and found the check point near the station. It had warmed up enough to shed a layer. Had a nice cup of water and shoved a mini doughnut in my pocket for later. Half marathon point!
Shirley joined us and another bloke, but they and the chap from York pulled away and I found myself running alone.
The faster runners had set off at 10am and at approx. 15 miles in, they started to come past us in ones and twos. It was amazing to see the ‘elite’ in action, running past like they were on a 10k! They were all very friendly and offered words of encouragement as they whizzed by.
The track isn’t very interesting, but did make for good running. The abbey at Whitby came into view, but the track sweeps away inland so for a long time the abbey never seems to get any closer!
At last, I was on the old viaduct. I wasn’t sure exactly how much further it was to Whitby, but I knew it wasn’t far.
The track simply comes to an end, some bright orange tape and an arrow indicated we should pass down a flight of steps to street level. Down here was another check point, manned by the RD. We had a quick chat, I got videoed and had a cup of water. Down the street, and I realised I was on the wrong side of the road and ended up crossing the road several times. Whitby was busy, it made for hard going between the tourists and on the cobbles. Thankfully, the swing bridge was down and I was soon attacking the Abbey Steps two at a time. That made me a bit dizzy!
I had already decided to have a walk break at Whitby, my knees and hips had been starting to hurt a few miles earlier. I ate my doughnut from Robin Hoods Bay and enjoyed a brisk stroll through the caravan park and back onto the cliffs. Lisrun and Mel over took me here somewhere.
It turned out that my little ‘rest’ was a big mistake as I couldn’t get going again. The path was on grass and quite muddy in places, I jogged on and off for a couple of miles before resorting to mostly walking. I was very cross with my stupid legs for not working.
The mud got worse and worse. It varied between whipped up froth and a slick glass-like surface and everything in between. It was never really that deep (not like the Guisborough 3 Tops) but never offered a purchase. Other people we met were struggling to stay on track too!
At one particular flight of steps, I was clumping through puddles of water when another runner passed me on the grass. I thought that’s a good idea, went to step onto the grass and promptly fell on my bum, in a puddle. Mardy and covered in mud I stamped on.
I was getting a little concerned about cut off times, I didn’t know how strict Jon was. I had to get back to Robin Hoods Bay by 4pm so long as I did that, I’d finish in time. I traversed Rain Dale without any problem and realised I was at Rocket Post Field and it was still light, I was going to get there on time!
Back at the checkpoint, I put on a couple more layers and my buff and had another doughnut.
Dropping down the big hill was absolute agony, my knees were done in. Before the race, I’d been pleased we were going to go down the hill, but now I realised that uphill would have been less painful.
I am very familiar with the not so obvious Cleveland Way through Robin Hoods Bay and was able to shout ‘follow me!’ Through the alley and up the steps.
The breeze on the cliff tops had turned cold and I was pleased I had my buff. The mud continued, and now there were steps to contend with too. My sore knees made both the down and the up equally hard and I shuffled along.
I felt like I’d failed. I’d had to walk for quite a while, and I was certainly going very slow. Lots of people over took me. I felt like I wanted to cry, I wanted this over.
I can say though, actually giving up never crossed my mind.
Everyone who passed, asked if I was ok. Of course I answered with a breezy ‘Yeah, I’m fine’.
Boggle Hole done. Stoupe Beck done.
I had to stop again and dig my headtorch out of my pack. I’d hoped to get away without needing it, but I was going too slow. This added or rather removed a dimension from the mud and made it even more difficult to pick the best line.
Up ahead, the lights of the Ravenscar Hotel came into view, I’ve never been so happy to see Ravenscar! Normally it’s just a point on a walk, today it meant home.
Last objective was the climb up past the quarry, in the woods all the paths look the same and I was pleased for my head torch to lead the way.
Out onto tarmac, and the final shuffle up the road and eventually I could see the village hall. I felt quite dejected to say how close to finishing I was. I stepped into the warmth and bright lights of the hall, a young girl clipped my tally and that was it, over. Thank goodness.
I went outside to peel off my shoes and socks. When I went back, people were congratulating me and Jon announced me and my first Ultra. When people were saying well done, you’ve done it, I realised, Yes, Yes I have. I may have been painfully slow, but I’ve done it!! I’m an Ultra Runner (I use the term runner quite loosely) and a member of the Hardmoors family.
I sank the best cup of tea I’d ever drunk, I’d been desperate for one for hours!
After a wash, more tea, pasta and cake I felt a lot better! Chatted with various runners, Flip, Anna Bomb and some others who I don’t know but were very friendly. I drank the cider I’d brought, well earned.
A few of us stopped the night in the village hall, and we sat up chatting long after everyone else had gone.

I went to bed quite satisfied after a rollercoster adventure of both body and soul.