It seems a long time ago now since the Hardmoors55 but I have not been home since the race and access to the computer at my son's house has been restricted by his work requirements. That is only partly the story though - for the best part of the week I had a sneaking suspicion that I had finished last but did not want to own up to it unless I had to. In fact when the results came through I can claim 39= out of 42 with two other determined soles plodding in behind us.
There are plenty of other accounts of the race and the weather so I won't dwell on general points but just aspects of my personal experience. For reasons that I cannot fully fathom myself I had made no arrangements for breakfast on the morning of the race. I knew we were far too early for a hotel breakfast and kept thinking about the options in the preceding few days but failed to take a decision. In the end I improvised with some hot cross buns that we had brought for the drive up the previous day.
I was still a bit anxious at the start about the niggling ankle injury, an occasional knee twinge and the lack of training that these had resulted in. In the end the knee and ankle performed OK though I was conscious of a weakness in the ankle throughout. The lack of training though did show from Osmotherly onwards.
I started in leggings and a windproof top over a short sleeve vest with a warmer top and waterproof in my pack. This worked out OK and I stuck with it until the Lyndale checkpoint when I switched to the warmer combination for the night section.
The run went OK to the first checkpoint though a little slower than planned. A long toilet stop on the leg to Osmotherley did not help but I was still going reasonably well. From there on I was still running but a fair few passed me (though I did pass the odd one also) From Osmotherley to Bloworth Crossing was the only section I knew - from two Lyke Wake Walks and an Osmotherley Phoenix. It was particularly annoying therefore to get lost approaching the Bloworth checkpoint. Just before the old railway line I caught up with Chris Peach who was consulting his map. We turned the right way along the line and then persuaded ourselves we were not on the railway but the track (I think I was mainly responsible for this). This could only mean we were too far south so we turned round, headed north and past the point where we had joined it. Shortly after this I realised we were in a cutting - generally tracks on moors do not have cuttings but railways do! So after a quick check on the compass we turned back south. Just before we did so we were joined, coming from even further north on the railway, by Nigel Braithwaite who had made exactly the same error as we had.
On a positive note it now meant we were a group of three running in miserable weather rather than three individuals in miserable weather. A great help. So we pressed on. I could not help noticing that even the slightest of uphill gradients was reducing us to a walk. I certainly felt I was the slowest of the three but perhaps the others did also. So, slowly on to Lyndale without seeing another soul, a brief respite, a warm and toilet stop and on our way. On our way back down from Rosebury Topping we passed Anne Green on her way up, I estimated about 25-30 minutes behind us. We saw nobody else so I assumed she was the last still running.. Then, just after the Highcliff Nab checkpoint we got lost again. We were looking for a path cutting up right from the one we were on through a break in the forest. But we came directly to the main forest track. We did not see the small path opposite so turned right, looking for a crossing path. Fairly soon it obviously did not fit the description so we headed back down again. I guess this cost us about 10 minutes so it was a surpise to see the light from Anne's torch bobbing up the path, she had made up a lot of time on us since Rosebury. She joined us at the point we had joined the main track anmd the path opposite was immediately obvious. Apart from a few brief stops to consult the notes there were no problems from here and we stuck together to the railway checkpoint. In fact Anne broke away from us about a 100 metres before, as soon as it came in sight. One of the marshals asked if one of us was Dick Scroop. I confirmed that I was and he told me that my wife was getting anxious at the finish. Perhaps not surprising as I had said I expected to be in at around 8.00 and it was now past 10.00. I told the others to press on at their own pace, Chris, who had always looked the fittest of us pressed ahead and disappeared, Nigel pulled a little way ahead but I caught him not far from the finish and we stayed together. As we approached the turn off from the railway I saw two figures who I guessed were marshals making sure nobody missed a turn at this late stage. As I got to them it was obvious it was a couple of local lads and a girl killing time. One said something to the effect of 'What's all this about, what are you doing?' I am not sure there is a sensible answer to this at 10.30 in the evening at the end of a wet day so I stuck with the purely factual - that it was a race from Helmsley to Guisborough and we were probably the last! I am not sure whether he believed me or if I would have believed it if I had been in his place.
Into the cricket club briefly to pick up my bag from the start and a drop bag. I sent my wife upstairs for these on the pretext that I could not go up in my muddy shoes but I really did not fancy the stairs. Then away to the hotel (The Three Fiddles which I would certainly stay at again) and my wife went out to buy pizza and chips for us both. The sleep.
I rested until Tuesday when I did an easy 5 miles followed by 12 on Wednesday. Thgis was a very sluggish, partly due to some extremely boggy ground in an area not familiar to me. Then due to other commitments no run on Thursday or Friday. Yesterday I sdet out with some trepidation to do 28 miles on a route that gave me options for cutting it short and avoided the boggy ground I had found on Wednesday. In most respects it went pretty well at an acceptable pace. But around half distance I had a couple of sharp twinges in the knee. A combination of a sudden weakness and a pain. I had more or less made my mind up to take the next short cut to the house when it went off and was fine for the remaining 15 miles or so. Went for a swim with the grand children today as an alternative to running and will take it very easy over the next week up to the Manx Mountain Marathon on Saturday. I don't expect it to be amongst the best of my races but after that and the Calderdale the following Saturday I can focus a bit more on sorting out the injuries and training rether than racing. But the next race after that, the Fellsman, was my worst of the year in 2009 so I have some serious training to do.
Must finish now to get the grand children into bed.