Coast to Coast 2020 - Day 4 (Ingleby Cross to Robin Hood's Bay, 49 miles(ish), 182 total)

I woke up at 4am - this was it, the final day which ever way you cut it.  Three possible outcomes: 1) Finish, 2) Drop out and 3) Run out of time.  I knew I felt better in myself; not exactly containing bundles of energy, but at least enough to be motivated to finish the day strongly.  I started at about 4.55am where I immediately entered the Yorkshire Dales and straight into an incline where I would then follow the Cleveland Way for most of the morning.  I felt like a man on a mission and just powered my way up the hill.

Review at Ingleby Cross

The first section to Clay Bank Top (144 miles) was 11 miles in length and involved lots of up and down sections and well as some flatter bits.  I was doing really well, no heroics mind, but by 8am I only had 4km to go.  At this point it got much slower around Cringle Moor / Wain Stones that involved substantial amounts of scrambling and uneven surfaces that requires careful negotiation.  Nonetheless I safety got to Clay Bank Top at 9am in relatively good spirits and in a position where I could block out the feeling in my feet.

Ingleby Cross - Clay Bank Top

Review at Clay Bank Top
The following section was another 9 miles to Lion Inn (153 miles) which is not an official stop, but something I inserted as a natural way to break down the overall leg into more manageable chunks.  It is relatively straight forward on paper.  The first section is a steep climb from the road but otherwise continues to follow the Cleveland Way on a well laid track.  Following this is a disused mining train line (albeit at 400m height) that is pretty flat and again well laid.  In normal circumstances it would be perfect running conditions, but today was about completing and not speed so I opted to power walk.  In the end I went a touch faster than this as the mist descended and was eventually followed by lashing rain.  Under normal circumstances this would have been fine, but I was under prepared as at the point I left Clay Bank I was only wearing a light wind proof top.  This was compounded by the fact that I wasn't completely certain where I was.  There were lots of small unmarked paths linked to grouse shooting, my compass was now all but useless, but in any case the twists and turns on the trail made it difficult to determine exactly which bend I was on.  Thankfully, a few minutes later I found the turn and at the road junction I couldn't see my wife as the visibility was only about 30 metres.  I headed into the pub car park but she wasn't there either, so I headed into the pub foyer as I was now starting to shake.  I managed to call my wife and she was only about 40 metres from the path but I just couldn't see her.  I finished the leg just before midday.

Danby Cross - Lion Inn

Review at Lion Inn

Once in the car I needed a decent break as by now I was shivering considerably.  I got out of my wet clothes and footwear and exchanged them for something more warming alongside a cup or two of tea.  Whilst my original intent was to not have long stops, it was important to take 30 mins to warm myself up and be properly kitted out for the wet weather.

The next leg was another 9 miles to Glasidale (162 miles) which marks the end of the official penultimate day.  There was not a huge amount to say about this leg other than it was a mix of minor roads and tracks in the main, a little up and down but generally just staying at a similar level in the Moors before a final descent into Glaisdale itself.  The weather remained mostly dire, but interspersed with times when it was dry, followed by others when it was borderline hail.  I got to the village at about 3.45pm, by now I was ticking off every mile mentally - just 20 to go.  My quads were ok, my feet were still atrocious but I felt that mentally I had it under control.

Review at Glaisdale

Another quick 15 minute rest and a change into my trainers.  The next section was just 4 miles into Grosmont (166 miles) - not an official stop, but an opportunity to refresh before the final push.  At about 4pm I set out and even used the opportunity for some running in the first half.  I soon realised that this was a bad move and my feet were even worse than before, not that I thought it was possible?  I got into Grosmont at 5.15pm with just 16 miles to go.  You would think that it was all but a formality now, but actually I felt exactly the same as I did about 24 hours earlier.  I just felt drained and my feet were screaming.  I soon decided to change back into my trail shoes and I wondered if my bonking yesterday and today were both down to choosing wearing of trainers - perhaps less supportive of my muscles and feet or was it just co-incidence?  I was originally thinking that upon leaving Glaisdale I might finish between 7.30pm - 8.30pm, but this was now looking extremely optimistic.  I thought that the sight and smell of the finish would have been enough to give me a second wind, but if anything my body was just shutting down.  This last leg was going to be a hard slog.

Lion Inn - Glaisdale - Grosmont

Review at Grosmont

Thankfully, I had decided before the beginning of the day that there were some doglegs on the official route that I wasn't going to do.  Unlike other areas where I went off piste, these were mainly down to route choice or simpler routes that if anything added to the overall distance.  This time, there was no two ways about it, these were shortcuts.  The first saved about 3km and the second a further 4km around the coast just before Robin Hood's Bay.  This reduced the last leg from 16 miles to about 11.5.  The decision to do this was two fold - firstly my feet but secondly the fading light.  I could certainly have completed the extra distance but would probably have resulted in a 10.45pm finish.

Coming out of Grosmont there is a significant climb up the road and I power walked this and ticked off each km mentally.  I was doing what was needed and I was making decent progress.  Just after Littlebeck with about 5 miles to go at 7pm I rewarded myself with a final little rest before heading to Robin Hood's Bay.  Whether this was ever a mistake or not I'll never know, but upon setting off again at 7.15pm, something really just wasn't right.  The next two miles took 35 minutes, not impressive but enough to tick them off.  At 3 miles to go the wheels fell off completely; what proceeded next was a shuffle walk, the wobbles and barely being able to do anything about it.  All in complete view of my wife.  I was determined that I would get it done, that was never in doubt, but this was clearly going to be one of the worst finishes of a Coast to Coast ever.  At times I was reduced to 1 mph.  You would think the loss of 200 metres over the last couple of miles would have helped, but it just hindered even more as it just bashed my swollen toes even more.

Grosmont - Robin Hood's Bay

With 1.5 miles to go my wife reluctantly left me so she could park up, walk down to the sea front and watch me finish.  With about 1km to go, something in me just switched - I was refusing to limp to the line in a heap, I was going to run to the finish.  It would be nice to say it was purely for those reasons, but to be honest it was as much about figuring the running pain levels were going to be similar to the level of pain walking, so I may as well get it over and done with.  I also wanted to finish within 88 hours which was now looking doubtful.  I therefore legged it, properly gunned it.  I then made it my target to finish before the 50 minutes was up.  I was now into sprint mode as otherwise it wasn't going to happen.  With metres to go I had to push that little harder and I crossed the line in a total of:

87 hours 49 minutes 59 seconds

The last mile or so was completed so quickly that my wife was not yet ready for me.  Although she was there, the video camera wasn't yet ready, but no matter, we had completed the adventure together...

Finish at Robin Hood's Bay (sorry for poor sound quality)


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