On Saturday I was once more back in the North Yorkshire Moors, this time to run the first edition of the Hardmoors 60.

As you know, the Hardmoors 110 route is composed of two distinct sections: the first half in the moors (Helmsley to Saltburn) and second one following the coast (Saltburn to Filey). Last year Jon created the Hardmoors 55 on the first half of the course. This year he naturally added the Hardmoors 60 on the coastal section. Slight issue, the total distance was a bit under 60 miles, so a loop had been added at the end, forcing us to run an extra 10 miles after passing 100m from the finish line...

I pitched my tent in Filey on Friday night, and took the coach for Saltburn on Saturday morning, in which I met the usual suspects: Steve, Flip, ... and slept a bit. By the time we were greeted by Jon at Saltburn, the sun was up, and a gorgeous weather was waiting the 50 of us!

The conditions in the morning were perfect, and I kept running with my head looking left towards the sea :) The section on the beach at Runswick Bay was particularly nice. Much easier to enjoy than on the 110 after a night out in the moors...

Unfortunately, things started to change after Sandsend. I started to feel diarrhea looming. The whole section between Whitby and Ravenscar turned into a difficult moment. Aside from the pain and the technical challenges of the condition in the middle of a race, it left me relatively weak and probably dehydrated, since the weather was relatively warm.

Luckily, after a great deal of help from the marshal at the Ravenscar checkpoint (32 miles), who fed me with soup and rice pudding, I was back on track and enjoyed the rolling section to Scarborough, and even ran the whole promenade despite the hardness of the concrete and the density of pedestrians.

As I left Scarborough (43 miles), I thought I had only 7 miles to Filey Brigg, then 7 miles to Stocking Dale, and logically 3 miles to the finish line. As I asked for confirmation at Filey Brigg (50 miles), about the 10 miles left, I was told that it was actually 12... I know I was a bit confused after 11 hours on the trail, but was still fairly confident that 60-50=10. Then I started to think again about the map I had roughly memorised, and thought it would be strange for this loop to be about 6 miles on the way in, and only 3 on the way back. And indeed, the total distance happened to be 63.5 miles (102km)... Jon's such a joker ;)

After I passed next to the finish line and my tent, I switched on my head torch for the final 10 miles loop, where I didn't see a single runner, but a few animals a bit surprised to see me: a couple of kittens blinded by my head torch, an owl, a rabbit who didn't know where to run away and was just zig-zaging in front of me until I nearly stepped on him, and a few cows that didn't seem too bothered.

Not only animals were surprised. As I was close to finish, I got stopped by a farmer who was patrolling, a bit worried by all these lights in the fields in the middle of the night. He told me that he was concerned we were poachers or metal scrappers. I convinced him that after running 60 miles, the last thing we had in mind was to carry a metal gate or a sheep back home...

I pushed a bit to arrive 15th in just under 14 hours (13:58). Just in time to discuss a potential Hardmoors 160 and maybe even a Hardmoors 1000 :)

I have too say I was not too keen on this final loop, not only it doesn't bring much in terms of scenery, but it's not a natural ending after following the coast for 50 miles. And passing by the finish line 2 hours before finishing is a bit depressing. It might be scrapped next year.

As I came back to London, I was subject to a new form of craving: I was really keen on getting a dozen of oysters. Something to do with water and salt I guess. Or maybe the consequences of a run by the sea?

Ultra coast