Meet this week’s Teacher Feature…
Name: Chris Hardman
Year group/subject you teach: KS3/4 Geography
Years teaching: 0 (ECT1 from September!)
How long have you been running: 7-8 yrs
What’s your favourite distance to run: Any ultra – up to 50 miles. As long as there’s food!
“ I genuinely think without the mindset I’d developed during my ultras over the last few years, I’d have been coming on home on day 3…”
I started running around the time I turned 40. The usual midlife crises I suppose! Marrakech half and Paris marathon stand out as one’s to remember. I then found out that I liked running slowly with several stops for food and so I found my home in ultras. Always near the back of the pack but always having fun.
In 2019 I completed the GBUltras 50 mile Grand Slam. Four races including Chester 50, Manchester to Liverpool 50 , Pennine Barrier 50 (taking in the Yorkshire 3 Peaks) and culminating in Snowdon 50.
Snowdon 50 was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done – 23 hrs of running, walking and scrambling up and down Snowdon and over the Glyderau and the Carneddau mountain ranges. Anyway, this set my mind to what was next. The obvious step up to 100 miles, or something else? Then the lockdowns hit so I ended up training solidly on local roads and getting a 45 minute (unofficial) marathon PB for my efforts.
Fast forward a year and I‘m just back from an epic 10 days walking a big chunk of the Pennine Way the wrong way (North to South), having decided that the time I have on my hands now between qualifying for and starting as a teacher should be used for something “big” like this. The Montane Spine race that takes in the whole Pennine Way had always inspired me so I think something like this had been on my mind for a while.
I had decided I would be carrying everything I needed and camping along the way (wild and at sites). I planned a rough itinerary of around 20 miles a day, meaning I might fit the whole 260ish miles in to my 2 week window and if not, I’d get done what I could in the time I had.
I’ll say now that my walking partner who I’d persuaded to join me, didn’t even make the end of day two. He ended up getting a train home deciding that 20 miles a day, over this terrain, in this heat, carrying this 20kg rucksack was not for him. I totally respected his decision but wondered how it would affect me – especially mentally.
I managed to get around 170 miles done in the end and it looked something like this:
Day 1 – Kirk Yetholm – Chew Green. 21 miles over the remote Cheviot hills.
Day 2 – Chew Green – Bellingham. 22 miles including Kielder Forest.
Day 3 – Bellingham – Greenhead. 21 miles including a section of Hadrian’s Wall
Day 4 – Greenhead – Alston. 17 miles. My diary tells me “hottest day so far, rucksack killing me”.
“I planned a rough itinerary of around 20 miles a day, meaning I might fit the whole 260ish miles in to my 2 week window and if not, I’d get done what I could in the time I had. “
Day 5 – Alston – Dufton. 20 miles including Cross Fell (highest point in England outside the Lakes).
Day 6 – Dufton – Middleton. 21 miles including High Cup Nick and High Force waterfall.
Day 7 – Middleton – Tan Hill. 17 miles. Diary highlight – “must stop swearing at weather”.
Day 8 – Tan Hill – Thwaite. 8 miles. Decision made not to rush any more and to get home for the weekend.
Day 9 – Thwaite – Hawes 10 miles including Great Shunner Fell in biblical rain and thunderstorms
Day 10 – Hawes – Garsdale station. 6 miles to get train back to civilisation.
I can’t put in to words what a memorable time I had. With hindsight, and no offence to my old friend, I think it was more epic and more memorable to do on my own in the end. I was right about the mental struggles though, I genuinely think without the mindset I’d developed during my ultras over the last few years, I’d have been coming on home on day 3.
There’s so much more to tell but I won’t go on, this is already too long! Maybe I’ll write it up somewhere one day. What I know though is there is still 90 or so miles of the Pennine Way left for another adventure at another time soon.
Just remember – you can do so much more than you think you are capable of.
Click the link bellow to follow Chris’s ultra journey on Twitter!!!
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