The 2014 Frostbite Ultra Race

9

 

The Frostbite 30 is an Ultra Running race organised by our athlete Rob Jarman. The gruelling event is 30 miles long and covers a route around North Yorkshire.

 

The 2014 race took place on December 6th, with almost 150 people taking part! A big well done to Steph Kitchen from Berghaus who was 2nd Female.

 

The following story was written by Sheena Jackson, who also competed in the event…

 

Launching myself out of bed on a very frosty, cold morning, when normal people are still tucked up cosy and warm, seemed a perfectly good idea on Saturday morning – and at no point in the day did it seem anything other than that. This fact is quite bizarre if you know me – I’m not a morning person, and I’m far better in the heat than I am in the cold. The draw of long races over fabulous countryside overrides all other issues for me though.

 

 

Some people put more thought into the prep than others – my mate Andy (joint 3rd on the day) was sat drinking wine the night before round at mine, wearing a bemused expression as Paul and I drank beetroot juice and debated the virtues of different en route refuelling options.

 

 

Last year’s Frostbite 30 was my first ever ultra, and I loved it. The hills, the terrain, the views, the camaraderie – these are the things that brought me back to Frostbite for a second year in succession. Since I’m local, I also offered to help out with some of the preparation for this year’s event. There are a lot of people behind the scenes that put in a lot of work – right down to my lovely friend Tim who organised the free map and entry form printing via Cartridge World in Harrogate – helping to keep the cost of the race down. It’s this attitude amongst the ultra-running community which makes it so welcoming. Frostbite is still one of the best value ultras around, to my knowledge.

 

 

1

 

The Scout Hut in Pateley Bridge looked very much like the start of any other race – an anthill-like mass of runners, volunteers, family and friends, busily sorting, organising and bantering with one another. Lining up, I have a tendency to look round me and think ‘but they all look like proper runners.’ It’s often very difficult at this stage to work out where everyone will be in terms of pace, place and ability to finish – looks, attitude and gear can be very deceiving, and this is a tough race.

 

 

The wooded footpaths bear the hallmarks of Race Director Rob Jarman’s greatest passion: mountain bike tyre tracks bite into the icy mud and crisscross over roots and around trees. This is where Rob first perfected his ‘trade’ – and features in Alastair Lee’s ‘Britrock’ film currently showing around the country (and indeed the world). This is his home turf, and Frostbite is his chance to share it with us.

 

 

Once at the top of the hill, if you have the wherewithal to look around, you are afforded beautiful views over upper Nidderdale if the weather is good enough and this morning we were in luck. The forecast hadn’t seemed too promising, threatening mist and rain, but as we ascended, the sky was brilliantly blue and clear and the valley below looked lush and green in the icy winter sunshine.

 

 

The route along to Two Stoops (or Yorke’s Folly as it is properly called) is a fun bit for me as it’s undulating, muddy, rocky and wet in places. This is my playground – bounding over and around the rocks and obstacles, and splatting through muddy puddles.

 

FROSTBITE 30

 

This is an interesting area to journey around, apart from the views. On dropping down from the folly and across the road, you come to an old cold store further down the path to Strikes Wood, and beyond that (as the path becomes trickier underfoot for us runners) to the Viking Longboat Tree, and then False Teeth Bridge, before Fishpond Wood. It’s a taxing, technical descent of loose rock, slippery boulders and oily roots. All but the most experienced (or foolhardy) take the speed down a notch in favour of reaching the bottom in one piece.

 

 

Ankle deep mud, I am reminded of why I love this kind of running – I get to play in the mud like a kid again! I relish the feeling of dancing over obstacles with the free abandon of someone far younger than myself. I do hope I never grow out of enjoying that.

 

 

The first loop is over surprisingly quickly, and after checking in at the Scout Hut, we begin the longer second loop, which takes us up the valley to Bouthwaite and Middlesmoor, then up to the moors. I know from experience that this is the time to put my jacket and gloves back on – I am already aware what the tops will be like out here, and the weather is starting to turn. Dark skies loom in front of us and the temperature has dropped with the wind chill. It’s times like this that I prepare for – and which will catch you out if you don’t. Proper kit and preparation can make all the difference, not only in how well you run, but in whether you finish at all. It’s one of the reasons I love this landscape – it’s brutal and unforgiving, and if you underestimate it, you can land yourself in serious trouble.

 

 

Rather than contrived atmosphere and extortionate fees of a gym, I prefer these wild, remote places and my money is happily spent on kit. Berghaus, who sponsored this race, produce some of the best kit on the market. I still have walking boots and a jacket of theirs from 20 years ago, before I ever thought to run these hills. Good kit might not quite last a lifetime, but it might save your life, and it will certainly give you the opportunity to live it to the full.

 

FROSTBITE 30
We started the day in icy winter sunshine, with bright blue skies…but by the time I’d made it up onto the moors, the mist and weather were closing in and the temperature had dropped considerably.

 

Dropping down to the Scar House reservoir checkpoint, marshals offer hot drinks, snacks, and shots of Jagermeister. Yep, Jagermeister. This was something a lot of runners seemed to really appreciate….only in Yorkshire?!

 

 

This latter stage of the race is tough for me – I’ve been ill for a month and half now, and been quite sick along the route today. This is where the mental strength kicks in though – I know I’m ok to continue, albeit more slowly than I would otherwise. The mist is drawing in across the moors, and for the last few miles it’s pretty much dark, but I’m running with first-time ultra-runner Rita, and we come in pretty much together.

 

 

My thoughts for doing a race like this? It comes down to this – alongside the training (you do need to put in some decent training, though don’t be intimidated by this), understand that you don’t have to be an uber runner to complete a race like this (I’m your prime example!), you just have to know that you’re tougher than you think – do things that scare you a bit, that challenge and test you, and you’ll never be sorry that you’ve attempted them, because it’s all about the experience. That and don’t be sparing on what kit you carry – that just annoys me. You are not so special that you don’t need to carry the same kit as everyone else, or that you can rely on other people getting you through. Save your gym fees, run out here, and get yourself kit that will carry you through, even if it’s only basic.

 

 

Oh, and look up, look around you, and smile – it’s amazing to be out here….

 

Sheena Jackson

 

8
Congratulations to Berghaus’ Steph Kitchen (2nd in from the left) who finished as 2nd Female. Sally Fawcett won the Women’s event while Ben Harris won the Men’s.