The Cleveland Way… the Oxley way

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Cleveland Way relay race report by Tara and Chris…

Its 5am on Sunday 25th June 2017, the dog has kept us up most of the night and the alarm is about to go off to tell us to get up and ready. Ahead lies 18 hours of running for our two teams, luckily no-one is having to run all of it…

Its glorious sunshine in Whitby we’re told, although not convinced as it looks like it’s about to rain in Stockton.

There’s just time for a quick wash and to get dressed in our Sunday best (aka shorts, vest and running shoes). Tara has a quick check to make sure there’s no last-minute drop outs and we’re off, driving to Robin Hoods Bay to pick up Mark and Jess from Middlesbrough AC who are filling out the ‘Striders and Friends’ team.

Tara is looking nervous but ready for her leg 3 Ravenscar to Robin Hoods Bay, and we’ve just found out that Mick ‘the fish’ Fawcett (1:12) spent a bit more time in the sea than originally planned following his 5am start in Filey. Apparently the tide hadn’t gone out as far as was expected and a number of runners got in up to their waist…

Zoe Walls (1:36) was also up earlier than most to start the Striders and Friends team off and she hands onto the first of the Middlesbrough AC runners Peter Riley and Paul Wilkins (0:46) for the Scarborough to Cloughton leg, Peter is due to run through Cloughton and onto Ravenscar but has to pull up along the way injured, luckily for their team Lewis Bourner takes over from Paul Wilkins in Cloughton to carry onto Ravenscar.

Meanwhile back to Team 1 and Mick has handed on to Michael Burke and Paul Johnson(1:47), Michael remembers the right way out of Scarborough this year and they both settle in for their two legs, running from Scarborough through Cloughton then on to Ravenscar. Tara (0:36) is off to Robin Hoods Bay and I hang about for a quick chat to Michael and Paul and then realise I don’t really know the way back to Robin Hoods Bay so I best set off to be ready to pick Tara up. The signpost says 10 miles but I think I know a short cut..! Luckily I head in the right direction after only one mistaken 5 point turn outside of some random house.

Back to team 2 and Lewis has handed over to Mark and Jess (0:32) who mentioned that Strava only has their leg being an 80-meter elevation change……. This is the Cleveland Way of course and following the roughly 400 meter elevations of Boggle hole and the hill up to the car park to their hand over Jess notes that you should not always trust what the computer says… (there may have been a few expletives on the finish line).

I’ve made it to the Robin Hoods Bay, parked and found Lucy Owens and Richard Whitehouse and directed them to the correct hand over point, the instructions do say ‘near toilets next to car park’ it’s just that there are two car parks both with toilets…
We send Lucy (1:12) on her way to Whitby and Richard heads off to take over from her. Tara and I jump in the car and head over to the Whale bones as well.

At this point Team 1 are down on team 2 by 7 minutes after Aaron Keys (0:55), new to this trail running lark, completed his leg from RHB to Whitby, he hands onto Sascha Brame (1:05).

We watch the hand overs at the bones then head off to Runswick Bay, the going is tough coming out of Whitby and the wind is driving hard in the faces of the runners and we see Richard and Sascha pushing hard.
Although not as hard as it is for the York runner who is still on the road, he obviously missed the Cleveland Way sign post at Sandsend and is well off course. When the York runner finally arrives we obviously point out his error and he says he hasn’t ran off road before – Chris Furphy chips in to point out he still hasn’t ran off road.
Back to our teams and Richard has handed onto Chris Furphy (1:19) for team 1 who misses out on his cup of tea Cat has just got him and Sascha hands onto Ali Brame (1:49) for team 2 and both are off and running to Skinningrove.

We get back to the car to find the parking enforcement officers have been out and ticketed a number of cars parked opposite the houses including ours, note to self for next year don’t park there!

Quickly recovering from this devastation, we move on to the next hand over at Skinningrove, Furph hands onto Cat Clennett (1:30) and Ali hands onto Lewis Bourner (1:23) who is up for his 2nd Leg. Meanwhile I’ve made a sharp exit up to the toilets in the Leisure Centre in Loftus to make sure I’m as light as possible for my leg which is coming up next.

Cat and Lewis handover in Slapewath, Lewis has put team 2 into the lead by 8 minutes. Cat tags me (1:16) and I set off up the hill hoping I don’t get lost at the top like I did on one of my recce’s, I am also driven on hard as I don’t want to get caught by Mark and Jess (1:20) who are up for their 2nd legs of the day.

It’s very warm now out of the wind and following the hard slog across Newton Moor I see a competitor cresting the hill ahead of me so I push on harder. I think we may have a case of cheating as I don’t see him going down Little Topping but as I’m nearly sick at the top of Roseberry Topping he heads back past me and says I might catch him soon, fat chance as I’m really starting to blow out of you know where. The people we have to dodge around going up look at us like we’re mad as we quickly tag the trig point and come back down past them.
I see Mark and Jess heading towards Little Topping as I’ve come back up and I give them a wave heading for the car park at Gribdale. Still pushing hard I find Furph and Cat lounging on deck chairs in the car park as I tag Michael Hodgkiss (0:40) on his way to Battersby Moor. As we head out to meet him at the hand over point I remember the tea which has being kept warm in our car and hand it back to Chris who never wastes anything slurps his way through it.

We nearly run Michael over as we head up the road to the top of Battersby Moor and I think of how glad I am I’m not running up this hill dodging the sheep, it’s hard enough in the car.
At the top, we meet up with Kirsty Alderthay (1:20) who is next up for team 1 as she heads off to Clay Bank with her brother to finish the morning session at 17:11pm. Mark and Jess hand on to Julia Ansbro (0:49) from team 2 for her to run from Gribdale to Battersby Moor, she then hands onto another Middlesbrough AC runner Craig Allen (1:00) for the trip over to Clay Bank, he finishes team 2’s morning session at 17:23pm.
Dropping Craig back at Battersby Moor we head over the Helmsley to watch the finishers come in and get the last of the fish n chips from the chippy that does gluten free, luckily, we are the last ones in the shop before they close!

Heather Brackenbury has taken over the afternoon team management duties at Clay Bank which start at 14:00pm with another mass start, the runners heading to Carlton Bank.
Team 1 has Claire Murphy (0:54) and team 2 Lisa Poole (0:54), following a bit of confusion David Holmes (1:13) heads off 30 minutes late for team 1 and Kate Butterworth and Vicky Meaby (1:31) are off to the next hand over at Osmotherly for team 2.

Michael Burke is up for his 3rd Leg of the day along with Ste Boddy (1:17) for T1 and Mick Good (1:10) for T2. Sneck Yate is the next tag point with Michelle Livingstone (0:55) T1, and Paul Appleton (0:59) T2, heading off for the penultimate leg towards the Hambleton Inn.

The final leg sees Liz Simpson and that man Michael Burke again (now doing his fourth leg of the day) for team 1 set off at 18:55pm some 20 minutes down on Helen Johnston and Jill Abel for team 2. Liz and Michael set a blistering pace to finish in 57minutes at 19:52pm with Helen and Jill a speedy 1 hour 12 minutes finishing just ahead at 19:46pm

A heroic effort by all but team 1 have the quickest time at 17 hours 37 minutes including the 30-minute mishap after the first hand over of the afternoon session. Team 2 have a total running time of 17 hours 52 minutes.
Well done to all participants good luck for next year and remember no holidays are allowed at the end of June 2018.

There may also be some social runs being organised throughout the Autumn / Winter on the legs of the Cleveland Way so watch out for those.

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