42 miles of moorland from Osmotherley, due East, to the Sea at Ravenscar.
If I start another post with “Under a cloudless sky ...” I think I may either scream or take to drink and sunbathing till the rains return. It’s high time I started doing a few winter rounds, I can’t keep doing these in this heat and humidity; ... Give me a snowy sky every time!
That`s the moan out of the way ... for the moment.
The 2010 Lyke Wake Race starts much like they always have and probably always will in the future; runners arriving at Sheepwash carpark with start times from 4.00am through to the speedsters at 10.00am. Handshakes with old friends, greetings to new found ones, a few old stories of races past then the nervous standing around waiting for ones appointed time slot. A last dash toilet run into the brackens by the reservoir then we're off with a wave to our drivers and supporters before we chug up the road towards the cattle grid and off onto the track and the start of our long journey east.
A late handicap start time for me of 7.30am from Sheepwash Carpark didn’t offer the cool start of last years 6.00am so I was soon ahead in the "wet T shirt" competition and struggling at the back of my start group of eight. Last year I was a purist i.e didn't know the short cuts, but this time, thanks to Paul Havis, the respite from the glaring sun was gained early as we took the woodland, and shaded route, around Carlton Bank instead of the climb up and over. This line saved time and effort but I was still knee deep in a boggy section so being, once again, grimy uncommonly early in the race. A fact nicely captured on film by Dave Burke just outside checkpoint 1:
A photographer instead of a competitor this year. Wise sir, very wise!
Away up to Botton Head and then onto the head down grind of Bloworth Crossing to Blakey saw me overtaken by the elite ladies! Notwithstanding this, the effort to try and run all the way to the Lion on Blakey Ridge gave me a solid time of 3 hours 40 mins. However, and ominously, with nearly half the distance, and inclines, covered, the upturn in heat and humidity hinted at what we were possibly about to receive in the next few hours.
Next, a tragic straight line by the boundary markers, avoiding the road to the moorland, across some tough heather resulted in calf cramps on the top of Rosedale Moor; all the way past Shunner Howe and down onto the Hamer Road checkpoint. Further broken ground underfoot passed the Blue Man i` th` Moss and Raven Stones meant no respite for the legs and it was a relief to see Stape Road, but; time began slipping away. Water quickly became warm in the bottles, jelly babies and the like suddenly became quite unappetising and a general feeling of nausea prevailed ... and the overtaking by more elite runners continued ( I was even overtaken twice by Dave Kamis who managed to get lost, retrace, and still pip me to Eller Beck ): Even with the enthusiasm and support from these great runners and all the further encouragement from the marshalls, the going remained tough.
Things marginally improved to Ellerbeck and I ran to this penultimate checkpoint but the die was cast, the legs like blocks and it appeared to me that I was running enclosed in a warm oven. Pouring with sweat I struggled to stay hydrated – about 9 litres went in and probably more out? Not sure that’s a perfect race strategy but at this point my tongue felt as large as a brick and I remained determined to finish (all thoughts of a good time were long behind me).
The first casualties appeared on the last run off towards Jugger Howe. A runner lying in the heather, collapsed in the heat and an elderly walker, who had fallen on broken ground, was suffering a nasty head wound and was half sitting and half lying by the track in a very sorry state. Both were being ably attended by walkers but they were very isolated so by the time I reached Jugger Howe and looking over my shoulder, I was relieved to see the Air Ambulance alighting onto Stony Marl Moor. Not a moment too soon as two road ambulances passed me by on the track but they could get nowhere near the scene.
On realising my target time had gone, the psychology changed totally and I was barely able to run another step ... gone to pieces in an instant.
The final section up to the radio mast brought the beautiful blue sweep of Robin Hood's Bay into view and the final snake down through meadows and lanes into Ravenscar was laid before us. I determined to raise a final jog and my finishing dash into the grounds of Raven Hall was greeted with much enthusiasm; thank you all for that ... very much appreciated and also a big thanks to Paul Havis for his friendship and company on what for me was a very trying and tiring day.
Never felt so tested but 9 hours 37 minutes and 34th out of a starter field of 82 was all I deserved and probably more if I’m truthful. I didn’t have enough in the legs for a good time for both North Yorkshire Moors back to back trail ultras this time.
• Don't grumble about your time if you don’t put the work in.
• Don't do back to back ultras if you don`t put the work in.
• Enjoy being a back o` the pack runner
• Time for F.R.A rules here? Saw a couple of nasty incidents today and whilst the weather can never be fully predictable it would be good for mandatory First Aid kits to be carried and perhaps a little Mountain Rescue Support at one or two spots. This isn’t a criticism; I have a huge respect for Paul and his team for maintaining a great event. Once again, a big thank you.
When thou from here away may'st pass, any neet and all,
To Brig o' Dread thou com'st at last, and Christ receive thy saule.
He nearly had mine today.