This is not the first time I have left Hull at dawn on a Sunday, with wobbly legs, desperately trying to locate the nearest McDonalds. This time, however, I had a huge sense of achievement and a shiny medal to show for my efforts!
I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking when I first entered the Hell on the Humber, or ‘ell on’t umber we’d say around here. I’d heard a lot about it but I’d never known anyone mad enough to take part – my friend Nikki hadn’t even done it and she’s hardcore.
Strangely, I keep returning year after year, so this isn’t my first rodeo!
It makes perfect sense; I’m local and I’m no stranger to a challenge (I’ve raced against a steam train so anything goes now). The main draw was – it’s overnight and with the weather being unbearably hot recently I thought it would be good to use as training and get a few cooler miles in. I can also call in the 24-hour Maccies on the way home. Before I knew it, I’d soon tapped in my details and entered again.
What’s the Story Behind Hell on the Humber?
Now, for the uninitiated, Hell on the Humber, or ‘HOTH’ as affectionately known, is a series of endurance races held on the Humber Bridge. These events, spanning 6, 9, 12, and 24 hours, require participants to run laps of the Humber Bridge (2 miles out, 2 miles back) for the designated race time.
The series features four distinct events, each presenting its challenges
- The Mad Hatter: Daylight races of 6 & 9 hours
- The HOTH: A night race with durations of 6 & 12 hours.
- Helloween: 6 hours on the last Saturday of October.
- HOHO HOTH: A 6-hour run on the first Saturday of December.
Running laps might be some people’s idea of hell, and the name is quite fitting. It tests your mental strength as your surroundings remain constant. Having participated in similar endurance races before, like Nemesis Infinity and Endure 24, I must admit, I might be a bit crazy – but I enjoy them. They’re usually laid-back, allowing for breaks between laps.
This race was no exception – complete 6 or 12 hours of running, with the minimum requirement being one lap every 3 hours to be considered a finisher. ‘Finish times’ are counted as the number of completed laps.
Evening races are awkward, the whole issue of when do you eat your tea? (or dinner to you Southerners). So, I had a big brunch and my usual porridge at 3.30pm.
Support is a rarity for me at races, but Becca kindly set up a mini tuck shop at the end of the bridge. After a quick race brief, we were off.
The route was straightforward – start at a cone, turn around at another cone, and finish at yet another cone. Log your race number after each lap, and there’s a fully stocked table of snacks (food priorities, of course).
My goal was to cover 16 miles as per my training plan, then adopt a run/walk strategy for the remaining time.
During the Race
Running at night proved enjoyable; the cooler temperature and changing daylight made each lap unique. A beautiful sunset over the bridge around 8.30 pm added to the experience. Despite a strict earphone ban, chatting with fellow runners made the course less lonely.
The course isn’t flat, featuring inclines at either end of the bridge. Running on iron with a thin layer of tarmac makes it quite firm underfoot. Regardless of the weather, it’s always windy, especially near the towers.
By the fifth lap, I started seeing ‘creatures’ on the bridge – a testament to the mind playing tricks. As my last lap was recorded at 11.30 pm, I received a medal and a T-shirt. Seven laps, 28 miles completed!
This is not the first time I have left Hull at dawn on a Sunday, with wobbly legs, and desperately trying to locate the nearest McDonalds. This time, however, I had a huge sense of achievement and a shiny medal to show for my efforts!
Call it weird, call it a challenge – the Hell on the Humber is an experience that pushes your limits and rewards your determination. A heartfelt thank you to the incredible team and volunteers who made it all possible. Until next year’s adventure!
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