The Frostbite 50

The Adventure Hub 50 mile Yorkshire Ultra – ‘The Frostbite 50’

Saturday 29th January 2011 saw the inaugural Adventure Hub 50 miles Yorkshire Ultra, affectionately and fittingly nicknamed ‘The Frostbite 50’.

Following on from the success of the Adventure Hub Norfolk Ultra in October , ‘The Frostbite 50’, the 2nd edition of the Adventure Hub ‘6 Series’ was an enormous success and left all the runners exhausted but with great big, muddy, smiles on their faces.

The route starts from the cold and eerie Whitby Abbey and makes its way down the Cleveland way before turning inland onto the North Yorkshire Moors and then looping back to the Coastal Path.

I ran the race purely as a participant and I have to say, without bias, this was the best ultra distance event I’ve ever done. (Best organized and managed, the best course, the best atmosphere, and a REALLY tough challenge and a really happy and friendly community atmosphere).

The Adventure Hub 6 Series is designed for Ultra Runners, Adventurers, Marathon runners and novices alike, and each race offers different distance options at six beautiful and varied courses all over the country.

The Frostbite 50 is split into marathon and 50 mile ultra distance events, with the marathon runners setting off 5 minutes before the ultra runners over the same course to the 13 mile check point before looping back to Whitby Abbey. (Testament to the ‘all welcome and everyone catered for’ philosophy, there was even a dog that ran the marathon - with its owner!!)

I ran the 50 miles ultra marathon, and set off at 8am with all the other eager runners of all ages, abilities and experience and we soon got a taste of things to come! The first 6 mile section down to Robin Hoods Bay follows the Cleveland Way, which, if you have ever walked before, you will know it is beautifully exposed along the coastal cliffs, and a real baptism of fire in terms of ascent and descent for an ultra marathon, something which gets the heart pumping straight away but at the same time you know that you will have to do this section all over again in another 44 miles time!

From Robin Hoods Bay the second section follows the cycle path and then climbs steeply up onto the moors and across Stony Marl Moor. It starts to get pretty cold up here as you become really exposed before you drop back down to follow Helwath and Jugger Howe Becks through the woods.

One of the best things about the ‘The Frostbite 50’ is that despite the fact that the course is really tough each section is so varied in terms of the terrain and type of scenery changing from coastal cliffs where you have to be careful and work hard and take the steep sections head on, to the cycle path where you can open your legs and run as you would on a 10k, to the woods and becks providing naturally winding flowing routes, to the open, rugged, frosty and boggy moors where you have to dig in on every step to move anywhere!

From the beck you run towards Brown Hill and up onto the moors for the loop. This is a different challenge again from the first two sections of coast, cycle path and the beck, and here you find yourself starting to dig in on a relatively long and in our case extremely cold and boggy section to the first check point on the loop.

At this stage (about 20miles in) I had settled into running with two other runners I met on route, Hannah, and John who I had not seen since a previous 100 mile event in 2006. Both were a delight to run with and so typical of ultra runners – ultra tough but at the same time warm and friendly and a great laugh, always ready with a “Ha ha ha, are you ok?!” when you fall on your face! We really made quite a team for the rest of the race. After a quick cup of coffee and some snacks at the check point we were off again to the next check point 6 miles away through the woods.

Having broke the back of it we forged on back to the start of the loop on the top of the moors, through ‘Leech Bog Slack’ and to the psychological mile stone of the 30 mile mark...only 20 more to go!

Getting off the loop and back onto the outward course we started making quick progress and found ourselves stretching out over the cycle track for around 5 miles at around 8 miles an hour! (You hardly ever get to do this past 40 miles on an ultra event, but it’s comparatively such good running it’s hard to say no to!)

It was dark long before we finished but after 11 hours 57 minutes we ran happily over the finish line together back at Whitby Abbey and were greeted with our prize bags and hot cups of tea, soup, refreshments and snacks all inside the warmth of the race head quarters tent.

This is the best Ultra Marathon I’ve ever done for so many reasons, it’s fantastically organized and well managed and the course itself is pretty brutal. (It took me c12 hours and I can run 50 miles in 8 hours on the flat!) After all, if you like running ultra’s you want the course to be varied and TOUGH! This ticks every box for me and was a great ‘training event’ for me before I go to Everest in April...

...I’m looking forward to the rest of the Adventure Hub 6 Series. If you want a new challenge or want to come and try your first ultra or marathon come and join us, we’d love to see you there.

Or if you’re looking for something more than an ultra marathon why not try one of the Adventure Hub’s ‘Running Expeditions’ - a new genre of expedition taking the concept of fast and lightweight multi-day adventure and ultra races and combining it with the fully unsupported nature of a real expeditions. The first exciting destinations in 2011 and 2012 are to the Skeleton Coast and Iceland. Please get in touch for more details at Adventure Hub or contact me at ben@benthackwray.com