John Hurse adds another great race report to an ever expanding list.
Wainstones Trail Marathon is the second race in the Hardmoors 26.2 series. These are a series of marathons set around the North York Moors. The events also include a half marathon and 10k option. After taking part in the half at Osmotherley in March I decided to step up to the marathon distance for this outing. This was to add some variation, build in more hills and increase the time on feet in line with my training plan. After reading the amazing 5 marathons in 5 states in 5 days report and waiting with anticipation for the review of the epic achievement of conquering the MdS by Simon Pryde I feel a bit lazy with just one run on one day but here it goes.
Arriving at Chop Gate village hall in good time I picked up my race number and casually got my kit together, returning to the hall ready for the pre race briefing. The race director advised that the course was measured slightly long at around 27 miles and depending on the estimates between 4,800 and 5,800 ft of climb. Briefing complete we made our final preparations and congregated outside for the start of the race.
The start headed straight into the first climb which was a sign of things to come, 800ft and 1.3 miles to the top. I joined at the back of a small group to try and stop myself getting carried away and into a race as happened in Osmotherley. Soon I pushed on a bit catching up to another group who were checking we were still on the right course after losing the course marking briefly.
Getting a few more miles under the belt and hitting more climbs out into the moor the wind started to pick up. Strong enough to help push you up the hill it was only a matter of time it would turn against us. Two of us remained from the previous group and around the 10 mile mark the marathon and half marathon courses converged until the marathoners were directed off for a long downhill which would lead to the 13 mile checkpoint. This was an out and back section and soon the leader passed us on his way back and as we dropped around 700ft in just over a mile once we got to the bottom there was only one way to get back to the route.Based on how the legs were feeling already I knew the second half was going to be tough. Back up to the top of Kirby Bank the route rejoined the half marathon route to head up to the top of Wainstones. The wind was now something else out on the exposed climbs and now it most definitely was working against us and rather than pushing us up it was trying to push us off Wainstones.
From around the 19th mile the route hit a track section that was what I would describe as a long hard slog although it was probably only two or three miles. With little else in the way you can see the track leading up to the next climb and the runners well ahead in the distance. The route dropped off the track down through fields and a farm yard climbing over a few fences, before starting another climb up to the next checkpoint. I stopped for a couple of minutes to get some water on board before getting back on the route up.
Reaching the top it was now 23 miles and still no sight of the village. Rejoining a similar moorland track I plodded along realising I hadn’t seen any markers for a while. Whether to turn back or continue as I started the next climb I was pleased to see other competitors coming over the brow of the previous hill. Getting towards the top I bumped into a marshal doing hill repeats, getting in some training during the wait for runners. We had a quick chat as we made our way up to the checkpoint and he sent me off on the final downhill that would lead to the road to the village hall.
I stopped my watch at around the 5hr15min mark. A long hard slog in the moors it was, one of the toughest races I’ve experienced. My Garmin had 27 miles with 5,000ft of climb. Another runner recorded over 6,000ft of climb so we didn’t manage to resolve that question. Again well organised and well marshalled, I’d recommend these races to anyone wanting to experience a bit of scenery and variation in their races, just don’t expect a PB. The race was won by Peter Hunt in 4’38” with Charmaine Harsfall finishing first lady and third overall in 4’54”.
Post Race Buffet Review (for Lizzy Clamp)
The organisers offer a range of savoury items (sausage rolls, quiche etc), homemade vegetable soup, rice pudding and various other snacks as well as drinks (water, orange, coke, tea, coffee) all included in the entry fee. It’s a nice touch so it’s going to have to be 5/5.