Andrew Marshall
This was my 2nd time running this event and I’d entered because the route had been reversed to celebrate 50 years of the Cleveland Way and the 10th Hardmoors 55.
Travelling South from Guisborough to Helmsley, the route is 53 miles including around 8500 feet of ascent over some often challenging terrain made much worse on the day by the weather.
The race started at 8am from Guisborough Sea Cadets after kit check and fitting of trackers. Even if you never run an ultra I’d recommend following  one live on “Open Tracking” website; it can be quiet addictive!
I made the mistake of standing at the back of the hall for race briefing and was one of the last to start, the 1st mile taking me 21 minutes due to bottlenecks crossing a couple of stiles. It was then up to Highcliff, over to Roseberry Topping which was climbed twice and then on to Kildale checkpoint via Captain Cook’s monument.
Cut off for this 10 mile leg was 4 hours and I arrived in just under 2 hours 30.
Hardmoors checkpoints are superb, plenty of food/drink and staffed by ever willing volunteers.
I knew the next leg to Clay Bank would be the toughest of the day due to a long climb but also the weather which comprised of 40mph head winds with gusts up to 60mph!
I wore a waterproof jacket for the entire race but plenty of people chose to also run in waterproof trousers which were part of kit requirements, along with survival bag, 1 litre of water, spare clothes/gloves and emergency food.
From Clay Bank(19 miles) the route then took runners over the three sisters to Lordstones and on to Osmotherley. I enjoyed this leg and managed to overtake a lot of runners on the constant ascents/descents.
My spirits were raised when I arrived at the Osmotherley checkpoint to be greeted by my wife Joanne and youngest son Nathan who were helping out in the village hall. Nathan insisted on seeing my head torch as part of the random kit check when he had helped me pack my race vest before the race!
Having covered 31 miles in 7 hours I still felt pretty fresh with the easier 22 mile leg to come.
I was paced the rest of the way by Gary from Derwent Valley Trail Runners a fellow runner who I’d previously chatted to when we both ran Saltburn Marathon in February. He was far stronger than me but due to the fact his partner was running a couple of hours behind us he was in no rush ,although he did briefly try to convince me that a sub 12 hour time was possible, however I was getting gradually slower and running became more of a shuffle.
After an out and back detour to the white horse at Sutton Bank it was time for headtorches and the final 8 mile downhill leg to Helmsley, where I was met by Joanne and Nathan who made me run the last uphill stretch to the finish in a time of 12 hours 15 minutes and 62nd place.
10th place went to fellow  Loftus and Whitby runner Joe Leadley in an amazing time of 9 hours 52 minutes.Overall a brilliant well organised race which is achievable to a lot of runners, in the words of Hardmoors ‘Time to stop doubting and start believing.’