Back in April of this year, I was going really good at running. I was knocking out over 100 miles per month I was feeling pretty damn good. I had done the Thirsk 10 and the Wakefield 10K and I was looking to book one race per month. With that in mind, I booked the Turnpike Trot 10K for October.
Why this race?
The Hardmoors series of races are gaining quite a following. They are based all over the North York Moors with distances ranging from 5km to 160 miles! I’ve has a desire to run one for some time, so when I saw this race I booked it immediately.
I know people who have done the Hardmoor 110 (their original race) and knew that it was a well-organised affair so this attracted me too. Running on the moors can pose all kinds of risks, so knowing that the organisers know what they are doing is important to me.
Another reason I wanted to do the Turnpike Trot was the time of year. I’ve never done an autumn 10K, and up on the North York Moors, it’s a visually great time of the year (usually).
Turnpike Trot 10K
The Turnpike Trot 10k starts and finishes a short distance from the North York Moors visitor centre in Danby. The race is run in conjunction with the North York Moors National Park Authority.
There is plenty of parking at the visitor’s centre, and race entrants don’t have to pay.
On my visit, I arrived about an hour before the race start and was directed into the overflow car park – essentially a field. It had been raining heavily all night and morning but the ground seemed reasonably firm and I didn’t see anyone having difficulty.
Placed in couple of gazebos on the lawn in front of the visitor centre building, race registration is unmissable.
It was well organised and I was swiftly in and out. A good thing, considering the rain.
Toilets we located in the visitor centre.
There is no bag store, but as you pretty much have to drive here and the car park isn’t far away, this isn’t an issue.
The race starts on a track at the bottom of a hill. Yes – a hill start.
Essentially, this is a two-lap course with a bit of a tail on the beginning and end.
There’s no getting away from it – this is a hilly one. I mean, you start on a hill. There’s a total elevation gain of 274m. From the start, you climb the hill and it levels out before you are heading down again. All the downhill section are fast, and on a day like today could be quite treacherous. Quite how I stayed upright at times I will never know.
The climbs are brutal. It’s technical terrain and with the amount of rain, we’d had slips were inevitable. On the first lap, these early climbs are made trickier by the fact there is a long line of people.
There is a long, and thankfully flat, section when you are the highest elevation. It’s very exposed up there and today that means rain driving across from the side.
For your efforts in the Turnpike Trot, you are rewarded with a medal. Plus, on returning to the registration area you can help yourself to crisps and milk drinks.
I was woken by the rain. Not just any rain, but really heavy rain that I could hear bouncing off the ink-black tarmac below our bedroom window. This was 3 am. I was woken almost hourly by the rain until I gave in trying to sleep when Helen got up to go to work at 7 am.
After faffing around with my kit, deciding what I was going to wear in this atrocious weather, I was finally out of the door by 9:30. Danby is only a 25-minute drive from home so I would arrive in plenty of time. And I did, on the stroke of 10 am.
After collecting my number, lucky 235, I went back to the car to wait.
The rain was still falling heavily and I was in two minds as to whether to wear my waterproof running jacket or not. I had my merino wool base layer and a running vest on and I didn’t want to overheat.
In the end, I opted to wear a jacket. I also improvised with some last-minute waterproofing of my feet using some poop-scoop bags I found in my waist pack! I put them over my socks in the vain hope that I might maintain a level of dryness to my toes. Spoiler alert – it didn’t work!
We were walked to the start point where I realised that it was a hill start. Gulp! How would my Achilles deal with that?
It was giving me some gip by the time we got to the top after the start. Thankfully it eased off during the brief flat section before a downhill.
I was soon concentrating so hard on not falling over that I soon forgot about the Achilles altogether.
I was feeling good, even on the next uphill drag. Once at the top of this is was reasonably level for a while and I was actually overtaking people.
This was a race where I wasn’t planning on competing with anyone but myself. But, once in and amongst other runners, you can’t help but get a bit competitive. I was careful not to push it through.
During the first pass of the flat section at the highest point, I passed a few more runners and after that, I was on my own for a while. The downhill at the end of this section was steep and fast. I took my eye off the path for a section and drifted into a gorse bush but and cut my knee.
At the bottom of this, you almost double back on yourself and go back up! Oops, this hurt a bit.
Another quick downhill and you start your second lap knowing exactly what is to come!
Of course, by this point, plenty of feet had been over the ground so it was very chewed up and a bit more slippy. More care needed.
Over the boardwalk section next to the stream, there were stewards throwing more sawdust on to keep runners from slipping. I have to say, the marshals and stewards we exceptional all the way around.
I struggled on the long, uphill drag the second time around. A lady passed me on the way up but we were having to slow to a walk at times.
Eventually, I regretted wearing my waterproof and took it off. I carried it then to the end.
Oh, the end. On that last nasty climb (following a fast downhill) I was visualising finishing. I knew there was a chap no far behind me so, again, my competitive edge kicked in and I was not about the be passed now.
On the downward section towards the finish, I had to navigate my way through a few backmarkers of the 5k race that started after my 10k. But I was done. I have the medal to prove it.
On the back of no specific training, other than just running, I was so pleased to get around this race. To do it in 54:59 was amazing.
My only concern is that my TomTom GPS watch had my distance as 8.97km. Initially, I put this down to the atrocious weather as I certainly followed the course. But, on checking fellow runners on Strava for this route it seems that all the the others got in or around 9km. I contacted the race organisers and they got back to me very quickly about this. They use mapping software for their race distances, however, with this race, the setting proved tricky to get the distance to 10km.
Top 10 finish
When the results came out later in the evening I was amazed to see I came in 9th place overall. A top 10 finish, irrespective of the disrtance, is something I never thought I’d see myself get in a race.
All in all it was a great race. I would highly recommend it to anyone and I am definitely doing it again next year. Although, I’d prefer it a bit dryer!
Thanks for reading