Lifelong friendships and tales of adventure on day four of the SILVA Northern Traverse
Although the first finishers are now in, there are still many runners out on the course. Today and yesterday, runners will have been crossing the North York Moors, a hugely varied section, involving woodland, bogs, well-maintained trails and a fun scramble up the Wainstones. From here, participants travelling in daylight will get good views of the Matterhorn of the North East, Roseberry Topping, and will catch their first glimpse of the North Sea, their final destination.
The Wainstones by night are a dramatic setting © No Limits Photography
It was wild and windy at the Lion Inn checkpoint
High up on an exposed ridge in the North York Moors, the Lion Inn is one of the most remote pubs in the UK. It is also the final support point on the SILVA Northern Traverse where runners can get some sleep and food before Robin Hood’s Bay. When we arrived, the support point tent was shaking in the brutal winds. It had been even more wild overnight, with many runners choosing not to stop due to the poor weather.
Robin Kinsbergen, Joop Werson and Arjan Breugem were running the SILVA Northern Traverse together, having travelled from the Netherlands to compete. We ran through the moors to catch up with them as they came into the support point.
Robin Kinsbergen looked tired but seemed strong as he pressed onto the support point. “My feet are sore. It took so long – we were expecting 80 hours, but now I’m here and it’s one stop to go until the finish. It was tough last night.”
Joop Werson was having a good time, but was looking forward to seeing a medic and getting some rest. “My feet are trashed,” he said.
The trio eventually made in into Robin Hood’s Bay in just over 89 hours.
Robin Kinsbergen, Joop Werson and Arjan Breugem at the Llion Inn support point © No Limits Photography
The weather was tough on this section © No Limits Photography
There were some truly inspiring stories
Craig Jones was just heading out on the final section of his journey when we caught up with him leaving the Lion Inn. He has an incredible story behind his run.
“I’m running it to raise money for a foundation, Thumbs up for Charlie – Charlie Robinson, who died on the 7th April last year of a brain tumour aged 5. I’m raising money for a foundation set up in his name.”
Craig is running with a teddy bear fastened to the back of his rucksack. “This was his favourite teddy bear, who has travelled from one side of the country to the other.”
When asked how he was finding it, he said “Brutal. Endless. But it will end. I’m learning lots about myself.”
He had also made friends on the route and was heading out with Heidi Lewis. “I met her at Ennerdale Water and I’d never met her before, and we’ve done the whole thing together.”
Craig had an excellent run, making it into Robin Hood’s Bay in 84 hours 23 minutes. It was so humbling to see someone push themselves to the extreme in aid of such an amazing cause. The Thumbs Up for Charlie foundation page is here if you would like to learn more about the cause.
‘It’s how you meet the people that mean the most to you’
Over 300km, the field is very spread out. It’s not uncommon for there to be several hours between one person finishing and the person behind them. However, the event centre was still buzzing with chatter, as many runners chose to stay around, keen to swap stories from their incredible adventure.
We caught up with Jackie Stretton, 4th woman into the finish at Robin Hood’s Bay. Last time we had seen Jackie, she was in Richmond as she lay on the floor with her feet up on a chair, trying to alleviate some of the soreness. Early on in the run, Jackie had teamed up with fellow runner, Sophie Littlefair, and the pair had stuck together right to the end.
“We met each other about 15k in and she was better on the downs and I was better on the ups. We kept each other going. To stick with someone like that, when you’ve never met them before… we’re going to be friends for life. It’s how you meet the people that mean the most to you. She got me through something incredible there.”
The finish line was an emotional moment for the pair. “It was so steep downhill and I was saying to her, ‘I’m not going to cry Sophie.'” Then, the pair saw Sophie’s parents waiting for her at the finish. “They live in Australia and they arrived yesterday, and (Sophie) hasn’t seen them for four years. They were at the finish line and I was crying.”
Jackie and Sophie had some memorable experiences together.
“I don’t really know what was going on for the last 15 to 20k of that race.” Jackie said. “At one point, we were talking about what looked like a cruiseliner in the middle of that boggy field!”
“I was so grateful to have Sophie there because we were both awake and we were both not with it.”
One of the best things about these endurance challenges is seeing how they bring people together as they support each other through highs and lows.
Jackie Stretton having fun on the trails of the Lake District © No Limits Photography
Running by night is easier with friends © No Limits Photography
Tea Parties at Lordstones
When asked about her highlights, Jackie didn’t hesitate. “The tea party at Lordstones.”
Along the route, the race organisers paid for runners to have a free drink at some cafés, one of these being Lordstones in the North York Moors.
“I thought we were going to get just a takeaway cup of tea, but no, they came out with these proper tea pots, and we said, ‘I’m very sorry for being so dirty, but this is the best tea in the world,’” Jackie laughed.
Jackie also had an interesting motivation for getting her around the course.
“A week ago, I was going to DNS this race. I wasn’t in the right mental state to do it and you have to want to finish. But strangely enough, my hoodie got me to the end.”
Jackie had initially planned to take her hoodie with her, but had failed the weigh-in, so gave it back to collect at the end. “It’s funny how something as silly as that gets you round. It’s a really nice hoodie and I won’t wear it if I don’t finish, and I’m damned well not coming back a second time for it.”
The North York Moors are wild but beautiful © No Limits Photography
Keira-Louise Baxter had an excellent run
Keira-Louise Baxter is one runner we’d encountered at various support points on the route. She finished her run in an impressive 75 hours and 48 minutes.
When we spoke to her way back on the start line, she said: “I think when it’s a longer sort of distance like this I feel less nervous about it, because there’s none of that pressure on sprinting off at the start line. It’s really about enjoying the scenery and taking in the surroundings.”
We’d last seen her in Richmond, looking like she was raring to go having had a short sleep, so it was good to see that she’d crossed the finish line.
After moving more slowly through Littlebeck, she picked up the pace a lot after seeing the encouraging messages left for her on Traverse Mail.
Keira hiking near the Wainstones by night © No Limits Photography
Married couple, Andy and Sarah Norman, did the whole race together
Andy and Sarah Norman were one of two married couples taking part in this run. They finished the run together in 78 hours 45 minutes.
“Andy pulls me along,” Sarah told race organiser, Shane Ohly. “We’re so lucky that we run together. If one of us is having low points, the other keeps the other one going.”
“We prepared quite well,” Andy said. “We had a sketch plan that was very adaptable and wasn’t set in stone. And we did communicate well together. We actually went by without any drama. We got a bit mixed up on Nine Standards Rigg in the wind and the rain. That’s going to be one of the highlights as that’s where the adventure was.”
Andy and Sarah actually met running. “Eleven years ago on Sunday” said Sarah.
They met at a LDWA event in Yorkshire. Sarah was training for Lakeland 100 and UTMB, while Andy was just there for the 24 mile event. “I got hooked on Sarah,” Andy laughed.
“It’s been wonderful seeing people,” Sarah said. “We helped out on Cape Wrath Ultra last year, so it’s lovely going to the support points and people recognising us.”
Andy had a great time on the race. “What I’ve enjoyed about this race that’s been different to anything I’ve done before is that the cut-offs are so generous. It’s not about cut-offs this race – it’s about strategy.”
Still smiles from Sarah over 200km in © No Limits Photography
Everyone on the course had a story to tell
It’s been a tough couple of days, but the stories coming out of it are both entertaining and inspiring. New friendships have been made, there’ve been some strange hallucinations, and some people have been choosing some interesting sleeping destinations. One participant, Alex Loach, confessed to having slept an hour in a bus shelter and 15 minutes in an abandoned building.
Some runners took to the side of the trail for a nap © No Limits Photography
However, it’s these stories that make the adventure truly memorable.
Don’t forget that entries are already open for 2023 if you’d like an adventure of your own.