Back in August a crack team of distance runners broke the record for the fastest time on the Yorkshire Wolds Way - the third time this year! On the 9th August 2011, Jim Rogers and Neil Ridsdale ran the 79 miles from Filey to Hessle in an incredible 13 hours and 23 minutes.
Here Jim Rogers, one of the team takes up the story.
I have always gravitated towards the longer distance challenges in my running. Having grown up at the foot of the Wolds and spent many hours training on parts of them, it is no surprise that the idea of running the Wolds Way had been in my mind for some years. Thus, in June 2003 myself, Stuart Buchan and Neil Ridsdale lined up at Hessle to set off on an attempt at completing this long distance route in a day. We were ably supported by Bob Tidy who provided excellent support – so good in fact that we spent almost two hours enjoying his hospitality and company during the day. I had previously failed in a solo attempt and so was delighted that we got to Filey as the day was ending, in a time of 16 hours 10 minutes.
Since then the three of us have continued to tackle various ultra running challenges. Neil and myself had completed a number of events this year, including the 62 mile Fellsman event in the Yorkshire Dales and the 50 mile Woldsman, a long distance walkers event. The two of us recorded a new fastest time for the Woldsman this year and knew that we were both in good shape. When Neil saw the item on the Wolds Way website about a new official record he suggested that we take advantage of our fitness and have a go at beating this record. I sat down and worked out a schedule. We were both in better shape than when we completed the way previously and I knew that, if we could also cut down the amount of time spent at support stops, we could, if all went to plan, get the time down to perhaps fourteen and a half hours.
Very luckily my brother and law and twin sister offered to provide support. Roger has been doing a writing course and has various 'assignments' to complete. When he say my message on Facebook about the Wolds Way attempt he decided that it would be good material and that he wanted to write an article about the event for submission to a running magazine.
We had decided to go the 'other way' this time and do a North to South traverse. In the event we were also fortunate with the weather, as it was the only day of the week without heavy rain and there was , rare for this time of year, a northerly wind. After a good nights sleep in a tent nearby, I had a rushed breakfast and then headed off to meet Neil above Filey Brigg.
The early miles passed very comfortably and we took the support by surprise by turning up well ahead of schedule at the first few rendezvous points. It was a beautiful day on the Wolds and we enjoyed the scenery and the conversation -at least some of it. Neil works for an undertaker and some of his tales about the things he has to deal with in his working day were pretty gruesome. I think that being faced with death in this way on a regular basis must give you even more of an appreciation of the joy of being fit and able to undertake these sort of challenges. We also enjoyed seeing the new artworks along the way – the steamed oak benches were tempting for a sit down – but we were in a hurry so perhaps another time.
We have learned over the years, that it is usual in ultra running events to have bad patches in which you struggle, which will always pass as long as you get nutrition, hydration and pace right. One of the joys of being at a very high level of fitness is that you can complete ultra long events without any of those real bad patches. Fortunately Neil and I are well matched in terms of pace and on this occasion we both had a comfortable day : we got the eating and drinking right, and went a good but steady pace. Perhaps it was my new 'energy drink' formula which helped – a mix of beetroot juice and flat coca cola. Some sound research studies have shown the benefits of beetroot juice for endurance performance, as well as for keeping blood pressure down. Flat coca cola gives a good boost of caffeine and sugar to keep the energy levels up, but without the gas which you don't really want when running.
We did keep the support stops down to a minimum – over ten minutes at Thixendale for some hot food, but otherwise five minutes for a quick slurp and a bite was the norm. In total we probably had forty minutes or so of non running time. There are no real mishaps to report and only one momentary questioning of the route – this occurred near Londesborough when, despite being on the right route we had a moment of doubt and doubled back for a few hundred yards before being certain of ourselves. In summary all went to plan and it was most satisfying to get to the sign at Hessle, and look at the watch to find that we had completed the route in 13 hours and 23 minutes. Fish and chips tasted good that night, and I was able to look forward to going off on holiday the following day for a well earned rest, secure in the knowledge that we had set a good record. We hope now that others will rise to the challenge and see if it can be done any faster. I have already had overtures from someone who is interested in doing the double – would that be a good way to spend a weekend? Or would that be taking things too far? Something to think about over the winter and you can guess that part of my brain is looking forward to that weekend already.
I have completed many running challenges but the Wolds have a special place in my heart and this is therefore one of my most satisfying achievements. Their quiet rolling beauty still remain less travelled but for as long as I can I am sure that I will return to these hills of my home again and again – perhaps not always so quickly but with no less enjoyment. In the meantime and when I can't get out to them, I can sit and look at the David Hockney print which I have just had framed – one of his East Yorkshire landscapes with the big skies and the fields rolling away into the distance.