2022 SILVA Northern Traverse – Event Director’s report
by Shane Ohly, Event Director
Please note: if you would like to get a fully rounded perspective to the SILVA Northern Traverse, you’ll also need to read the SILVA Lakes Traverse Event Director’s Report.
Participants race off from the start line in St Bees © No Limits Photography
My recce of the SILVA Northern Traverse
For the Lake District portion of my recce, look at the SILVA Lakes Traverse Event Director’s Report.
Once we had finalised the deal to organise the 2022 edition of the Northern Traverse, the very first thing I did the following week was walk the route between Shap and Robin Hood’s Bay with my wife Heather. We didn’t have sufficient free time to complete the whole route, so settled on doing the Shap through to Robin Hood’s Bay section, as I already knew the Lake District section well.
The coldest temperature in the UK (-10°C) was recorded in Shap that morning as we set off across a very snowy and wintry landscape!
The first recce in the snow, November 2021
We took a much more leisurely approach than participants in the Northern Traverse, opting to stay in accommodation each night and get a meal in a local pub. It was a really wonderful week of walking and exploring sections of Yorkshire that were unfamiliar to us.
Nine Standards Rigg is beautiful in the daylight © No Limits Photography
Observations during the event
Now let’s fast forward over the next 3 months, when the Ourea Events team and I excitedly prepared for our first Northern Traverse race. The handover from James and his team at Open Adventure was faultless, but nothing beats the experience of organising the event for yourself. We have all been acutely aware of some uncertainties in our own planning, and conscious of the unknowns lying ahead of us.
The mines of the Yorkshires Dales are a dramatic backdrop for a race © No Limits Photography
The importance of mandatory kit
After a fantastic start to the event in the Lake District, with relatively stable weather, the weather turned wild as the Northern Traverse runners ventured further east on Sunday evening. For the runners caught on the high ground of Nine Standards Rigg, they experienced rough conditions with poor visibility, strong buffeting winds, that made progress arduous, and rain showers. Many participants were extremely cold when they arrived at Support Points, and the event staff and media deployed on the course witnessed this first-hand.
From a race management point of view, this was all within acceptable limits, but it does emphasise the importance of the participants being properly equipped. It shows how important our mandatory kit list is, and participants should understand that the mandatory kit list is the absolute minimum recommended clothing and equipment – with weather conditions as unstable as they are this time of year, extra clothing and equipment is often advisable.
Great to see participants smiling even in the tough conditions © No Limits Photography
The wind posed some challenges
The strong winds throughout the event were also a continuous challenge for us as the organisers. One extreme gust blew a blue tent away at the Richmond Support Point and it ended up wrapped around a neighbouring house. Fortunately, there was no damage or injuries, but it does highlight the risk wind poses to a temporary event campsite. It is only the second time in a decade of organising events, that any item has taken off, and this will prompt another review of our own internal process and procedures.
As you all know, the Lion Inn Support Point is located at an extremely exposed position on Blakey Ridge, and we planned accordingly pre-event. However, on Tuesday afternoon, the deteriorating weather forecast prompted us to enact our contingency plan to take down the majority of the temporary structures and move all the sleeping, catering and administration into a corral of Enterprise Hire vans. This was far from ideal for both participants and the event crew and we will be reviewing the viability of the Lion Inn Support Point for future editions.
The weather was wild in the North York Moors © No Limits Photography
Sleeping and catering
This leads me to one of the clear observations I have made during the event, and that is to review the provision of sleeping throughout the event. This includes how, where and when participants sleep at support points. The same goes for making sure the event team have good sleeping provisions. Certainly, we hope to improve the experience for everyone who does choose to sleep at the support points.
Providing the full range of catering options at the Lion Inn become impossible as the Support Point shrunk into the vans. I am also aware of other occasions when the full menu wasn’t available to everyone. Despite the GPS Tracking, it is very challenging to predict the numbers and timing of the runners arriving at each Support Point. Preparing the right quantity of food at the right time, and working within the rota of event staff is tricky on an event like this. There are some learning points for us, and we know how to improve here next year.
Our wonderful event team building tents in Kirkby Stephen © No Limits Photography
There were almost 2000 Traverse Mail messages sent to participants during the race. It was great to see people receiving these encouraging messages from friends and family, and they definitely gave our runners the courage and motivation they needed to push on.
Nearing the finish in Robin Hood’s Bay © No Limits Photography
As always, I am hugely grateful to the event team. The full list of people I would like to thank is here, but it goes without saying, that without the hard work and commitment of these wonderful people, running an event like this would not be possible. There were some tough conditions at some of the support points, but the team did an amazing job, working day and night to support our runners, and I am hugely appreciative.
Our awesome event team at the Lion Inn © No Limits Photography
My highlights from the SILVA Northern Traverse
Between the shifts working in race control, I’ve chatted with many participants. First at St Bees, later at Shap and then in Robin Hood’s Bay – both at the seaside finish line and the event centre at Fylingdales Village Hall. It is absolutely clear to me that runners have had an extraordinary adventure whilst overloading on type II fun. Perfect… that is just the kind of event I like to organise! Some of the blog posts on this event really highlight some of the incredible stories coming out of this event.
Picking up pebbles in St Bees to take to Robin Hood’s Bay © No Limits Photography
There’s been such a high calibre of running this year with records not only being broken, but being smashed by some quite considerable margins. It was brilliant following Kim on his run across the country, even if it did keep the event team on their toes trying to stay head of him. Welcoming him into Robin Hood’s Bay early in the morning on Monday was a magical moment. Seeing Lisa Watson’s incredible run was also a definite highlight. Watching her sprinting to the finish having maintained her impressive lead will be a memorable moment for all of us who witnessed it.
Lisa Watson had an impressive run © No Limits Photography
Kim Collison at the end of his tremendous run © No Limits Photography
Seeing final finisher, Nicholas Powell, arrive in Robin Hood’s Bay and throw his pebble that he’d brought all the way from St Bees was no less of a special moment. Whether you’re back of the pack or first finisher, it’s no less of an achievement, and it was truly inspiring to see the determination and resilience on display.
Final finisher, Nicholas Powell, makes it into the finish © No Limits Photography
However, for me, the real highlight of these kind of events is the camaraderie that develops amongst the participants. Seeing runners help each other through the highs and the lows, seeing lifelong friendships develop… these are the things that really make events like these special, and it’s a real privilege to have been a part of this.
It’s been a joy to see people forging such strong connections © No Limits Photography
A final note
Our Mission Statement as a business is to, “To create world-class events that inspire participants to take on challenging and life-affirming adventures”. The SILVA Northern Traverse certainly lives up to these lofty aspirations and the satisfied smiles, sense of achievement and weary looks of contentment from our 2022 participants is testament to this.
We look forward to another coast to coast adventure next year © No Limits Photography
The results for the SILVA Northern Traverse are now live here.
Our awesome film team are just putting the finishing touches on an excellent video of the event – you can look forward to this being added here and shared on social media soon.
You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you’d like to catch up with everything that was posted during the event. There were also blog posts covering the event which you can find under the updates tab on our website here.
We would really love to hear your feedback on this event. If you have any comments you’d like to make, we would really encourage you to use the form here. If there’s anything specific you’d like to tell us about, or if there’s anything you think we can do better, please do email us at email@example.com. We’ve already made pages of notes after our first time organising this event, and we will keenly look through every single last word of feedback we receive from you.
Keen to come back next year?
Don’t forget, entries are already open for the 2023 SILVA Lakes Traverse and SILVA Northern Traverse – taking place Saturday 1st April to Wednesday 5th April 2023.
Maybe you have unfinished business or a friend you’d like to recommend or share the experience with? Either way, you can sign up for next year here.
Looking for some future inspiration? Take a look at some more events from Ourea Events below:
2023 SILVA Great Lakeland 3Day™ – ENTRIES OPENING SOON!
A relaxed and friendly 3-day mountain journey around the beautiful fells of the Lake District. 4 courses will be on offer from Cafe to Expert so something suitable for every level and experience.
2023 entries will open on Monday 2nd May 2022.
Join us for a 3 day jaunt across the Lakes © No Limits Photography
2022 Cape Wrath Ultra® – LAST FEW PLACES
Interested in the ultimate multi-day racing experience? Come and join us for 8 amazing days of running through the stunning Scottish Highlands on the epic Cape Wrath Ultra®. This is our expedition race that starts in Fort William and winds its way through some iconic Scottish landscapes to finish at the Cape Wrath lighthouse, the most north-westerly tip of the British Isles.
There are still a few places left for the May 2022 event, taking place on 22nd – 29th May. FIND OUT MORE
Entries are also opening for 2023 on 5th May 2022.
Take on an epic journey through the Scottish highlands © No Limits Photography
2022 Montane Dragon’s Back Race® – LAST FEW PLACES
Looking for a once in a lifetime adventure? Join us for six epic days of mountain running through stunning Wales! The 2022 Montane Dragon’s Back Race®, taking place on 5th – 10th September 2022, starts from Conwy Castle and over six incredible days runs the length of Wales linking many of the country’s iconic mountain summits, to finish in Cardiff Castle on the South coast of Wales. FIND OUT MORE
Are you ready to tackle the Dragon? © No Limits Photography
2022 Salomon Skyline Scotland® – ENTRIES OPEN
The UK’s biggest weekend of trail running and skyrunning – taking place 17th-18th September 2022.
If you’re looking for a skyrunning challenge, why not try the 52km Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra? Or for something a bit longer, why not enter the Lochaber 80? Brand new for 2022!
The sky’s the limit at Salomon Skyline Scotland © No Limits Photography