Hardmoors 160, here we go again!
Posted on 20th May 2021 at 16:03
Bring forth the madness of ultra
Two years ago, I temporarily lost my sanity and entered the Hardmoors 80, an eighty-mile run across the Wolds way which took place in November. It was my first ever Ultra run, and it was a painful one. Seventeen hours of soaking wet stumbling from Hull to Filey had me unable to walk properly for a couple of weeks.
The following year, seemingly having not learned any lessons from this trauma, I entered the Hardmoors 110, a one-hundred-and-ten-mile race across the Cleveland way which took place in August, the weather was much nicer this time, but the gruelling challenge with the added element of sleep deprivation left me walking as though a herd of elephants had just trampled over my legs wearing high heels on their way to an obese oversized elephant’s convention.
This year, I’ve gone one further, on Friday 28th May, one week from the day I publish this article I’ll be taking part in the Hardmoors 160, a one hundred and sixty mile run across the Tabular hills from Helmsley to Scarborough, then joining the familiar Cleveland way to take me back to Helmsley.
I’m not sure what it is I enjoy so much about Ultra running, maybe it’s the gorgeous landscapes, perhaps it’s just the feeling of completing a tough challenge, or maybe it’s just the opportunity of spending lots of time by myself, miles away from other people and a large supply of flapjacks, nuts, biscuits, energy bars, gels, fruit and whatever else I can force into my mouth.
As usual I’ll be raising funds for two amazing charities
Based under the Humber Bridge, Humber Rescue is an independent lifeboat station (not part of the RNLI) who deal with call outs at any time, 24 hrs a day, every day of the year. Often times our volunteers will get out of bed at three in the morning to help someone in need on the water, or else leave work with the understanding permission of their bosses in the middle of the day, or sometimes leave important family engagements.
I’ve known crew members have to leave their partners sat at a table in a restaurant during an anniversary dinner, or leave their kids birthday party, all so they can be there to help save somebody’s life.
None of our members are paid, we have no marketing firm, no director in charge of fundraising and no team of execs sponging the donations. All of the money that goes towards Humber Rescue goes towards our fuel, upkeep of equipment and keeping the lights on in the boat house.
Royal Marines Charity
Lots of people who serve their country do so with lasting scars which can’t always be seen. Their families and loved ones are left trying to pick up the pieces for veterans who struggle to cope with day-to-day life and feel a long way from their glory days of peak fitness ready to carry out service for their country with pride.
Organisations such as the Royal Marines Charity help give these veterans financial support and training to find work when they leave the armed forces only to discover that Bayonet skills have little value in civilian employment, they also give fast track access to phycological services and physiotherapy help. They can even give legal assistance and pension support and help improve the lives of those families who’ve lost loved ones.
You can support these two charities by sponsoring me on the following link.
Every Ultra has its own unique challenges, the 160 will be no different, this only being my 3rd Ultra I can only guess in advance what they will be, at my best guess the following are considerations I’ve had to think a lot about.
One Hundred and sixty miles is a long way, it’s slightly longer than running six marathons back-to-back. Since this event started back in 2014, it’s been quite common for just over half of all those brave competitors who start to have to pull out, some of them just a few miles from the finish line. This year sees more competitors than ever before taking part, some amazing runners including former winners and winners from other events.
So far I’ve been lucky enough not to have pull out of an event, but then I’m still a newbie, and to compound this issue further I’ve been plagued by a knee injury in training (more on this later).
As a young Marine I underwent sleep deprivation training, which basically involved digging trenches to deeper than head height, combined with intense physical exercise, all of this often with gas mask on, non-stop all day and all night, all whilst under pressure from instructors.
This was harsh, but it helped us experience first-hand just how detrimental a lack of sleep is, as any parent of a new-born knows, you lose a part of your sanity, decision making is impaired, reaction times slow down and physically you begin to ache and tire more. You also see an increase in hunger and yearning for sweet foods.
I experienced this further on operations during my time with the Marines, and then had the pleasure of re-experiencing this with each one of my three children who had me up throughout the night for months on end walking with a pram or driving aimlessly around the countryside just so they might sleep.
A short while ago, I walked the Tabular Hills from Helmsley to Scarborough, a distance of about 55 miles. We started at seven in the morning, however in order to drive there had to be up about four in the morning, and we didn’t get finished until about one am the next day.
Whilst being driven back I began to notice strange things, it occurred to me that I hadn’t before notice elephants on this road, and why was Alan Tichtmarsh offering me a plate of Hors d'oeuvres?
Hallucinations can be quite common during long ultra-events, a short nap can work wonders, but obviously eats into over all time to complete the event, given that I only have fifty hours I’ll be keen to try and crack on as best as I can without taking naps, but if I do find myself once again surrounded by large non-native animals and minor celebs, a short nap might be in order.
I can navigate, give me an OS map, a compass and a bit of time and I can work out my position by taking a bearing to local landmarks and estimating their distance.
The problem is I will not have an OS map, or a compass, and if I did I wouldn’t have the time to constantly be checking my position as I work along the routes, so to a large extent I’ll be dependent upon the GPX file loaded onto my watch, and a fourteen page route description I need to familiarise myself with.
This is all well and good, but occasionally my GPX files goes a little psycho and decides it wants to hurt me, like the time on the Wolds way when it wanted me to drown in the sea just as I approached the last check point, or on last year’s 110 when seventy miles in it decided to take me off track and lead me up a steep cliff only for me to tumble down the other side and snap my spanking new expensive walking pole. Learning when to ignore these little deviations is an art form, tree clearings and high buildings can sometimes distort the signal and leed you little astray, for the most part this isn’t an issue, but can occasionally lead you to harm, or at the very least it can take you massively off track and cost you a lot of time.
Lockdown has been good for runners, we can expect some decent times in all events during 2021 with the amount of extra time people have had to hit the tracks and accumulate some milage, I’ve personally managed an average of fifty to seventy miles a week since Christmas, I combined this with resistance training, and all was going well until about five weeks ago when I picked up a knee injury.
I was just a couple of miles in when I felt a clicking across the front of my knee cap, it was painful and prevented me from being able to lock out my leg or sink into a squat. Since then I’ve had massage treatment and rest and it’s gotten better, but it’s still an issue now with just a week to go so it’s going to be interesting to see how I get on.
Runner’s knee is fairly common, it occurs in response to an overload of activity and causes swelling around the knee joint which prevents smooth movement. It can also lead to the patellar being forced the wrong way across the joint (outwards instead of inwards during lockout) which causes further bone friction and further swelling and inflammation.
In my case I think this was caused by too high a frequency of running, in order to hit weekly milage targets I would run mornings, lunchtimes and evenings whenever I got the chance.
I might have got away with the injury had I found time to do the same milage in larger chunks with more rest in between sessions.
The important thing (from my point of view) is that I’ve still managed to work around it, with cycling rowing, exercises that don’t directly aggravate it and adapting my running technique to cause lower impact. I still struggle to squat deep, but the knee is much better, and I’ve been able to run some decent distance at reasonable pace without further aggravation.
I’ve been very luck in that as a Personal Trainer I’ve been able to use my knowledge to work out the best way for me to train, and have been flexible enough with clients to be able to get some decent runs in. Hull has some absolutely beautiful areas to run or walk, just a few hundred yards from my gym I can pick up the Wolds way and head into the hills to get some decent climbs and work on pacing.
I’m genuinely looking forward to this event, I’ve trained hard, dieted well and confident that I can perform at my best in these circumstances.
I hope you’ll wish me luck and if you have any spare cash consider sponsoring me on the link below.
You'll be able to follow my progress from 5pm Friday 28th May on the following link, I have fifty hours to complete the whole thing, so thats your weekend entertainment sorted!
You'll also be able to get regular updates from my Facebook Crew page which will have regular updates, videos and up to date info on my progress.
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