Sunday, 17 September 2017

Crewing the Hardmoors 60

Bob had rashly? bravely? decided to go for a Runfurther Grand Slam. Several races would be a challenge for different reasons but he was anxious about the Hardmoors 60 - possibly after seeing me in pieces at various Hardmoors races and partly due to what for him would be tight cut-offs. To help with this I offered to crew rather than run. It meant the van could be at intervals along the course with clean dry clothes, a change of shoes, a la carte menu etc.
We drove across on Friday and walked a bit of the route from Skelton to Saltburn Valley Gardens. A gremlin had duplicated a sentence in the race notes and talked about going under the viaduct twice. I was sure it didn't but it made a nice walk and we had hours to kill. It was beautiful and sunny afternoon but by early evening that was changing fast. A night in the camper-van with the wind howling and torrential rain beating on the roof meant that I was becoming more and more happy that I was not racing but a little concerned that this would not be great for Bob.
Ready for anything
By 5.45am we were at the Sea Cadets. Bob and Dick registered and off at their pre-agreed early start time of 6am. Having the extra two hours was a buffer that hopefully would not be needed as Bob was determined to arrive at the cut-offs within the given hours. The rain had stopped although the skies were leaden. I left them to it and was busy putting up Runfurther display boards and banners which the RO's team then moved to the finish for me.
Swollen after heavy rain overnight
I was parked up in Saltburn with more than enough time to have breakfast and read my book. It was wild and windy and a nasty squall of rain came through.

Once it was dry I set off back up the course to see how they were doing.  I thought I might get to the viaduct but they were moving well and almost at the Visitor Centre CP.  I raced back to the van to dig out a dry shirt for Bob and also to get more food ready.
Damp start to the day
I have run this line a few times but never driven most of it and our van is big so I was mildly anxious of getting stuck somewhere.
Up and over- the next roller-coaster
I moved to Skinningrove as a surprise. This time I put the kettle on and then only had a very very short run before they emerged around the little headland.
Dick contemplating the damage from his fall
Tea, food and a gear sort and they were off up the next steps and hill. Dick had fallen and was suffering a bit.
An eating ultra
Next stop Cowbar before Staithes which is impossible for vehicles. This time there was no rain and the day was brightening but as I ran back towards Boulby headland the strong northerly kept halting me in my tracks- luckily they had a nice tail wind. Any records this year will be wind assisted.

 Bob was moving well and Dick not far behind although his ribs were now starting to bother him. They refuelled in the van and moved on not too many minutes apart.

It was nice being able to run back to find then like this and take their special requests for food or drink and also ensure that they lost as little time as possible. As I was leaving I spotted the first two men flying down the old eroded road. It would be minutes before they caught Bob and Dick.
Runswick Bay had moved the CP. I had expected them in the lower car park and hoped to park the van at the top. I managed to squeeze in and it is a great CP location with an aerial view over the beach and along to the ravine and also back up the road to see runners appearing.

The lead men raced through and also in the top 6 Martin Terry who would be 1stV50. I ran back up the course again (I would be very bored at and ultra doing no running) and had a request for hot sugary tea.

Ah, we have no sugar in the van. Bob made do and took on more food- marmite and peanut butter sandwiches being a favourite (not together).

I sent him on his way and was worrying about Dick. He arrived with talk of maybe dropping out as his fall was causing him pain and we are all due to go to Scotland for more adventures next week. I knew I didn't have long to get to Sandsend  but that once there I could wait so he set off again. I couldn't get the van in the car park but found easy parking on the roadside.
Good to see Barney back
 It was now warm enough to remove my over trousers  although my reward was a heavy shower. I got talking to runners and suddenly spotted Bob on the big track from the old alum works.

 I shot off to meet him, to get his requests and then to race back to the van to prepare. He was moving well and making better time than I had anticipated.
More Hardmoors steps
I realised that if I used his ipad for photos I could upload them during the race. I took a few random runners too and had great banter with Steve and Shaun who ran for the camera more than once. I had also met Martin again and I gutted that in our haste to get a good action Runfurther photo it is a bit blurred.

I was just getting worried about Dick and hoped he would figure out that the van would not fit under the height barriers so I would be up the road... No, he was worried too- that he would have to run to Saltwick and that I had abandoned him. Not a chance. A relieved man climbed into the van, sank into a chair with a cup of tea and announced that sadly he was done for the day.
I now had company for the remainder of the day which was nice as the evening came and the hours stretched a bit. I didn't fancy the narrow roads and crowds at Whitby Abbey and no support was allowed at Saltwick caravan site so we moved to to Robin Hood's Bay. We were far to early so had a brew, a chat and then I went for a wander while Dick had forty winks.
The sun has come out
 I thought I was getting a dab hand at predicting Bob's time but he stormed along this section so I missed my run. I was also worried about getting a parking space closer to the CP and had to hover and then move fast to get this. Soup, more sandwiches and a toilet break for Bob before he set off downhill but knowing Boggle Hole and the steps were coming soon. He took his better torch now too as reports said the coast road was blocked and so I might not get to Ravenscar easily. In fact we were there with plenty of time to spare and what a view it is looking back north along the coast. This time I left Dick cat napping and did get a run. Bob decided to go to the CP in the hall and not the van so we all walked up together.

Several cups of tea and many squares of quiche later he felt fortified enough to continue. Nick arrived too, and then Sarah and Andy so we had a little Runfurther party. I pushed Bob out the door with the encouragement that the next bit was downhill. Well the first bit on the road and even the first cliff top bit is...... I just didn't mention Hayburn Wyke and the other inlets. We moved on to Scalby and the Sea Life Centre. The heat was definitely going out of the day now, so much so that we put the van heater on for a while to take the chill off. We had another hot drink, did the maths to predict Bob's arrival and then waited. By the time I set off back onto the cliffs it was getting dark and as my eyes had not gradually adjusted I needed my torch.

First I met Nick who assured me had passed Bob some time back. I kept going and suddenly Bob was there only about 5-10 minutes behind Nick. He had obviously had a good patch once the terrain levelled out.

 A quick pit stop in the warm van and he was sent off around the Scarborough Proms and Bays. This is not my favourite section but I do try to see the positives- street lights, a level surface, no mud and no hills- and encouraged Bob to do the same. I sent him after two ladies but sadly they were doing a charity run on a different route.
Meanwhile we moved to Holbeck cliff top. In the dark I had misunderstood the lie of the land so it is just as well that itchy feet made me get out and explore and found the CP! I was chilly so ran back to the Spa. It was lovely seeing head torches appear and to be able to encourage runners on. Bob by now was slowing. I had taken him a cup of hot chocolate which he drank but he also wanted a warm top - an opportunity for a quick sprint to the van and back. He didn't want to eat much and I should probably have insisted more strongly. Most important was the fact that he made the CP before 9.30pm. With his two hour head start this meant he would have just made the 11.30pm cut off and so could consider he had completed the course and made all the cut-offs. There was nowhere else sensible to meet until Filey.  We had plenty of time for a last minute Tesco dash, to find a parking spot close to the hall and to chat to finishers. I took down the Runfurther stuff whilst I had spare time- I guessed that runners arriving after 15 hours or so would not be very bothered what flags they didn't see in the dark and that they would not want to read a display board! Dick went off for a shower and I had plenty of time to chat and eat. Predicting Bob's time was getting less easy. I knew he had hoped to finish before midnight but thought this would be tight. I dug out my head torch and ran out onto Filey Brigg. I met Sarah S and various other runners. Using my garmin I was able to let them know just how little they now had left. Jon had arranged for glow sticks on the steps and across the grass and cliff tops. At the slip way I met Nick and he shot off to use the beach approach and so save himself the climb and steps. I was well on m way to Cunstone Nab when I met Bob and Steve Spence. Steve was jet lagged and hallucinating. He jogged off and just wanted it over. Bob was exhausted and nothing I did or said could persuade him to run or jog.
Finished at last!
It felt a long 1.8 miles back to town and the last hill. Then the church clock was there and I urged him to keep going- getting in before 00.30am was possible. Tired but happy that the Grand Slam is still on he collapsed into a chair. Great effort, well done.

I enjoyed my day. It was nice to pay back all the times Bob has supported me and I really liked being able to encourage runners and cheer them on.
Big breakfast on Sunday

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