19 April 2024

We all felt the heat on this picturesque trail run

On Sunday, June 11, Hornsea Harriers Clair Williamson, Jane Hounsome, Zoe Topham and Martin Middleton- Frankton headed to Sutton Bank with our support crew – well, sunbathers – Sam Middleton-Frankton, John Ridge, and Wendy Taylor (gliding optional) for the Hardmoors White Horse Half Trail Marathon, a 16.5-mile trail run.

It’s a circular route that starts at Sutton Bank with spectacular views, follows the Cleveland Way, passes Rievaulx Abbey, and eventually passes through Cold Kirby and Byland before arriving back at Sutton Bank.

It was an early (ish) start at 7.30am as we took the drive to the Sutton Bank visitor centre, and you could already feel the heat; it was going to be a warm one away from the pleasant Hornsea coastal breeze. Arriving around 9am, we just caught sight of the full marathon runners heading off.

It’s fair to say no-one felt any envy of those doing the 28-mile route as you could already feel the temperature rising! We collected our race numbers and did the usual ritual of visiting the toilets multiple times.

The race started well with all runners making good time and sticking together on our second outing at the White Horse event as a group as we headed towards the first checkpoint at Boltby Forest (3 miles). The temperature had really started to rise by this point, what we would later find out had peaked at 28C!

Passing through High Paradise Farm and across some open moorland, and some interesting ascents and descents, we headed to checkpoint 2 (6 miles) still going strong if already somewhat sweaty and hot. From there, we progressed past Murton Grange before a very steep descent by road to a Ford where Martin thought it would be a good idea to hide behind a bush and throw cold water up at Clair, completely forgetting he had music blasting out of his phone and massively misjudging the depth! Progressing on with soggy feet, well, one of us, we plodded on alongside the river heading through fields and lanes towards Rievaulx Abbey.

Running along a dirt track covered in rocks and half-buried roots, disaster nearly struck as Clair tripped, possibly over thin air – no-one was watching. It was difficult to tell, but she managed to stay on her feet. Less swearing than was expected but she had pulled her glute, she soldiered on, and it seemed to ease, phew!

With Clair, Jane and Zoe still going strong, Martin’s dodgy knees started to play up around 10 miles. What had seemed a good idea to wear the new full knee supports came back to haunt him in the 28-degree heat, but taking them off was not an option.

The crew plodded on with the girls forging ahead, taking in the scenery and taking photos. We passed checkpoint 3 (11 miles) and got a much-needed water refill, although after five minutes it was still as warm as bath water! After a steep climb, we headed towards Cold Kirby and the home straight, we were still on course to beat our previous year’s effort.

We eventually reached the finish line together, greeted by Sam, John and Wendy in a time of 3 hours 35 minutes, taking six minutes off the previous year’s effort, onwards to next year and what is becoming an annual outing to the White Horse Half. Fingers crossed no one will be carrying an injury next year, but if they are, it’s Clair or Jane’s turn.

Martin Middleton-Frankton