3 Shires Fell Race, 21st September 2019

Richard has been, you guessed it, fell running again…

One of the six Lake District classic long fell runs (along with the Borrowdale and Wasdale) – at 13 miles and 4,000 foot of ascent starting and finishing at the 3 Shires pub Little Langdale. Saturday dawned with clear blue sky and also a nice cooling breeze for the run. The route gets off to an easy gentle start along quary roads and bridlepath for the first mile – the last easy running till the last 100 yards! Thereafter the huge bulk of Wetherlam (part of the Consiton range) looms large ahead and the route takes a direct ascent of around 1,800 foot straight up a grassy and stony gully. Relentless but the hardest ascent of the day done in the first hour. Wetherlam summit is the first check-point. Thereafter the running route skirts the minor top of Black Sails before the down and up the Prison Band (no idea why the name and certainly not the home of a former prison!) to the next next checkpoint at the top of Swirl How. Then a great fast downhill descent on grassy trods to avoid the rocky parts all the way down to the 3 shires Stones at the head of Wrynose Pass.

The 3 Shires, the race name, was the traditional boundary of Cumberland, westmorland and Lancashire. I was pleased to ‘easily’ make the cut-off of 2 hours, passing the check-point 15 minutes up on the time. Then uphill again to Pike O’Blisco, a glorious fell with stunning views over Langdale. The route up was pretty easy for fell running following simple grassy lines. The descent was anything but – avoiding low crags and using feint grassy rakes I was hugely thankful for good visibility and the re-assurance of runners in front. Following a final steep down through bracken and rocks the route emerges at Blea Tarn. And guess what – being a classic race – another straight uphill awaits. This time Lingmoor Fell which although lower in height still retains a steep side for ascent (of course). Fortunately after the Borrowdale, the dreaded leg cramps did not take over (thanks Nina for the bootcamp!). After the final checkpoint at the summit there followed a long descent into Little Langdale (with one fall en route and a nicely bruised elbow) and the welcome site of the finishing field.

Delighted to finish under 4 hours with a time of 3 hours 40 minutes. The winning time an unbelievable 2 hours, but my old adage of double the winner time and knock a bit off, was true to form again!

The next classic is the Langdale Horseshoe, a bit further and a bit more ascent waits for me in October!

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