After Lily and I had planned our week in the Lakes, I noticed that one of the Lake District classic fell races was due to take place, the Fairfield Horseshoe. I had heard about this race, and was keen to see for myself what it was like. I had only ran in one Lakes fell race previously, the Buttermere Shepherds Meet last year. That was a tough race, and it was only 1.8 miles! I therefore knew that this would be hard going to say the least, as I’ve come to realise that you cannot compare the Lakes and the Peaks when it comes to fell running!
Lily had decided not to race, but 8 other Harriers came up specially. It was another cracking day, and the atmosphere was great on the registration field as we milled around prior to the start. The race itself was advertised as 9 miles with 2,999ft of elevation. After all the running I had already done this week, I wasn’t sure how my legs would hold up, however, it turned out that I think the runnning had made me even stronger.
From the start we headed up a rough track before heading off-path, and sharply upwards towards the ridge above Nab Scar. This was a tough hands on knees climb, but I felt as though I held my own. Once on the ridge, we were able to begin running again, whilst still climbing. At times rocky, and at times grassy, it was good runnable climb, interspersed with steeper sections where I was forced to walk. However, I didn’t necessarily mind these walking sections as it allowed me to look around and admire the view – seeing the views across to the Scafells certainly nulled some of the pain I was experiencing! Halfway up the climb I turned around and saw fellow Harrier Alan a couple of runners back – he was running really well. Upwards we climbed, going around Heron Pike, and over Great Rigg, with Fairfield ahead of us gradually getting closer. We finally reached the summit, Alan and I side by side, where Lily was waiting, and thankfully I was able to grab a mouthful of water off her before the long descent began.
I have really noticed that my descending has improved in leaps and bounds over the last year, andI thought this would be good test. I set off from the summit, letting gravity pull me down. The descent itself, was about 5 miles in length, pure ridge running. It was one of the best descents I’ve ever experienced, and as we were able to take any line we wanted, runners were everywhere! On the technical, rocky parts of the descent, I was able to hop from rock to rock quickly – I only fell down once, catching my foot on a tuft of grass (on probably the least technical part of the descent!), but thankfully it was a very smooth landing, and after a roll, I bounced back up again. I was very pleased with how I descended, overtaking between 15/20 other runners.
In the end, I came home in 32nd place out of 317 starters, a result I was very pleased with. It was a great day out with the other Harriers, topped off with a nice drink and cake in the Golden Rule pub in Ambleside.
10 miles, 3,006ft of elevation.