Kirk Hardwicks post on the Hardmoors 60…
The void left in both my race calendar and self-esteem following a DNF at the Lakeland 100 required filling. I desperately needed some redemption after coming up short at Lakeland. The ‘mere’ act of finishing an ultra, any ultra, had become a prerequisite for my ongoing sanity. It was rapidly becoming a primary outcome goal after my Achilles tendonitis seemed to degrade even further over the last month. So with all this in mind I dropped on an entry to the Hardmoors 60 (100k and a reported near 10,000ft ascent) which seemed to fit the bill somewhere nicely between the 100 mile distance, but also not too short that my diminished leg speed would be a concern.
So following what felt a rapid enough recovery from Lakeland 100, I took a 9 day holiday in Chamonix to take in the madness that is UTMB race week. With the tendonitis niggling I didn’t hammer the miles over there but managed some quality ascent and a little altitude adaption. Love that place and genuinely can’t wait to hopefully race there next year!
I think I spent around 15-20 minutes in the aid station at Ravenscar, just zapped of energy. To try and freshen up I changed into a fresh Salomon vest and had some more food. I didn’t feel the need to change my footwear as the Salomon S-Lab Sense had been super comfy all day long. Once up and out the door it was business as usual – vomiting up the side of the road as I stumbled up the road to the trail. Comical how we call this pastime a hobby, but the enjoyment come from overcoming adversity in the long run…
With just over 20 miles to go the run into the finish would prove to be a slow, steady slog. That’s not to say I wasn’t enjoying the adventure. As many people had passed me at the aid station delays, I steadily overtook before the next. I had no idea of my position, but in all honesty it was truly only the finish that interested me now. I would get this race done and reassess how to get a return to form.
The next aid at Scarborough Spa and the runners were diverted off course due to the danger presented by the rough seas smashing onto the seafront. This meant some extra ascent, but it was dealt with quickly enough. Ironically I even started feeling a little better with the finish line getting ever closer. With just 6 miles to go I was getting news from some spectators that I was catching some runners up front. Sure enough, two runners who’d come through while I toiled at Scarborough Spa came into view with their head torches now illuminated. After a pretty rough day all round, it was only fair I tried to push it in to the finish now. After catching and overtaking the two runners on a steep grassy descent, I accelerated towards the end. With the rough grassy trail I really needed to concentrate to avoid rolling an ankle as the darkness descended fully. When some more runners lights came into view up ahead I took the decision to ease back while I donned my own head torch. Once the world was lit sufficiently again I pushed past the next two runners. The lighthouse at Filey came into view signifying the end. However in a final kick to the face, the lighthouse merely taunted me and must have still been a couple of miles down the trail, as it wouldn’t get any closer!
When the lighthouse came and went on the Filey Brigg, I ran onto a section of the course leading to the town centre I’d never seen before so I fired up the nav feature on my Suunto watch. With this back stop I easily found the right route in towards the finish and a last short climb up the road from the seafront. With the family waiting with cowbells ringing, I ensured to enjoy the last moments of a tough day.
In the end it took me about 2 hours or more longer to finish than I’d anticipated. Another substandard performance, but I’m more than happy to get a finish under my belt. It was great to see Ste Lord had bagged a win for the HM Grand slam and Matty Brennan had cruised to a well place podium position. Despite my personal performance woes, I still relish every opportunity to engage with the ultra community made up of such nice folk.
I think it’s now glaringly obvious whats happened to me after a tough year of racing. I’ve consulted with some well informed and experienced people and they’ve confirmed I’m clearly suffering over training syndrome. I guess in my case it’s less ‘over training’ and more ‘over raced’. Having run the 4 hundred milers in the last 12 months, it’s been far too much, especially as I’m new to that distance. It’s a rookie mistake, but in my defence the hunt for UTMB points has certainly contributed to my over racing. A day without learning is a day wasted…
Moving forward with some valuable lessons learnt, my first priority is to get some rest to get my body back to normal. I’m currently in the throes of a full month off running, and while it’s driving me mad, I’m feeling the relief in my body already. Next I’ll be looking to get some speed back into my legs. The 100 milers have meant plenty of slow, steady state running meaning I’ve lost some of my top speed. With some rest and quality speed training I’m looking forward to running some faster 50 milers. I’m also in the lottery for the next years UTMB so fingers crossed that could be the highlight of 2017.
Huge thanks to Salomon, Suunto and Mountain Fuel for their ongoing support and faith in my abilities.