Langdale Horseshoe Fell Race

Two of our keen fell runners, Richard Slack and Dave Wotton, were running in the Lake District this weekend. Richard sends this report:

Langdale Horseshoe Fell Race – 12 October 2019

Another of the Lake District long fell runs and following on from The Three Shires Race in September. Langdale is another step up from that, being 14 miles and around 4,500 foot of ascent including four cut-off points.

Rather predictably for October, the day dawned cloudy with a bit of rain in the air. The cloud did disperse but remained on the high tops for the duration of the race which made navigation more of a feature. As I prepared for the race start, Dave Wotton also appeared in the car parking field so Claremont well represented. Just before the 11am start it started to rain!

Then off we went, with a fantastic run route starting and ending at The Old Dungeon Ghyll pub in Langdale. The first climb takes you up to Stickle Tarn just below the Langdale Pikes. After a flat section around the tarn, the route then turns up the scree and rock gully behind Pavey Ark and onwards to Thunacar Knott. Initial height gained, then the fun begins as the route now crosses Martcrag Moor. This is simply a huge boggy depression filled with waist high muddy, watery hollows all waiting for an unsuspecting fell runner. A couple of full leg submerges was inevitable. Onwards over Rossett Gill and a climb on drier ground up to Esk Hause, the first check-point at 1 hour 55 minutes. I was on target and a good ten minutes inside.

Next up was the runners trod route under the crags of Esk Pike. This is a narrow thin rake covered in greasy rock so progress is pretty slow towards Ore Gap and then the next climb up to Bowfell (summit 2,960 feet), sadly in the cloud. Check-point again made but with more difficult navigation next came the Crinkle Crags and their many ups and downs. The trick is to try and circumvent them until the main summit and the third checkpoint. At that point a decision is needed between the longer way round or to use the short cut with bad step. Normally with good visibility and dry rock the rough 14 foot drop of the bad step is easily manageable. But given the conditions I chose along with many others the slightly longer route to the descent. As I came out below the bad step it was apparent from the crowd at its base then someone had taken a tumble.

As I emerged from the clouds on the big descent down to Red Tarn, I knew I had time on my side and would make the final cut-off point on Pike O’Blisco. I was delighted and really enjoyed the fast run on grassy rakes all the way to the final ascent of the day from Red Tarn. No cramping today so the extra fell-running, real tennis and bootcamp since the Borrowdale appear to have reaped reward. A slow steady climb to the summit and then in sunshine, the final big and glorious descent back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

No T shirts of fancy medals to be had, just a bloody good choice of pies to all fell runners. I wandered back over to the car park area and there met Dave Wotton, another successful completer – although he had run the check-points close to their limit (or perfect timing!).

Sadly that concludes the main races of the season of runs that I never thought I would do, or actually really enjoy. Hopefully some form will translate into Cross Country!

Richard Slack    04:09:52
Dave Wotton    04:37:07

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