Langdale Fell Race

AL 14m/4000′

Paulo Campos reports…Sat 9th October saw me set off for another outing to the Lake District, this time to Great Langdale, for the Langdale horseshoe fell race. Considered one of the classics, this Long ‘A’ race of 14 miles with 4000 feet of ascent is usually a very popular event and so it proved on this occasion with 357 runners including 5 harriers gathered at the start ready for the off. Glorious sunshine beamed down on us as we set off from the famous climbers’ pub The Old Dungeon Ghyll, and as we jostled for position we soon came upon the first serious climb of the day up to stickle Tarn. From this point it was upwards and onwards to Thunacar Knot, followed by a long boggy blast via Martcrag Moor where I tried desperately to avoid being swallowed whole by the bog (I survived!). Once past the bog we crossed the stream at the top of Stake gill, where we contoured up through Black Crags to Littlegill Head. This was followed by another boggy traverse to Angle Tarn before beginning the ascent up to Esk Hause. Prior to the race I’d planned to start off conservatively seeing as this was my first ‘Long’ fell race, and having stuck to my game plan thus far and deciding that I felt strong, I opted to increase my pace as I began the traverse below Esk Pike towards ‘that most magnificent and beautiful of mountains’ Bowfell. Although rocky underfoot, I made good steady progress and continued on my way picking off runners one by one before reaching Bowfell’s summit. However, as I began the descent low level cloud was beginning to engulf Bowfell and Crinkle Crags up ahead. Now, as a practitioner of the highest form of ‘self-preservation’ I was having doubts on whether to attempt to find what one of the local Ambleside AC runners would later inform me was ‘one of the classic racing lines in Lakeland’ bearing SW below the first of the Crinkles and which I’d only seen on a map, or whether to continue over the tops albeit losing me some time but ensuring I would at least have some inkling as to my whereabouts. Luckily as I reached the three tarns below and before beginning to ascend the first of the Crinkles, peering into the ‘clag’ I spotted a faint shadow of a runner taking what I assumed was the so called ‘classic racing line’. I subsequently made a dash to latch onto his tail not even giving a second thought that he might not be clear about the way either. I began to rue my decision however, when on catching him, I realised he wasn’t a native of Lakeland with ‘local’ knowledge and experience, but  a runner from Saddleworth, who like me was also making his first attempt on the race! I decided to continue on this course anyway hoping to see runners further ahead and luckily after 5 minutes, we were passed by the aforementioned Ambleside runner. I made a quick beeline for him and made sure I stuck to him not letting him loose until the infamous ‘bad step’ where he promptly shook me off and was never seen again. Having overcome this ‘minor’ obstacle I settled down for a fast decent towards Red Tarn and the final climb onto Pike o’ Blisco where I made good progress picking off more runners. The descent off the summit however was long and arduous and I took a couple of tumbles as my thighs began to suffer from my lack of appropriate training for the downhills. Nonetheless the end was now approaching and as I made my way through the campsite and onto Blea Tarn road, I made a final quick dash to the finish finishing 133rd in a time of 3.03.19h.
Overall, 5 Harriers took part in the race, with congratulations going to Mick Green as the first Harrier home.
37 2.31.52 175 Mick Green M MV45 Horwich
133 3.03.19 74 Paulo Campos M Sen Horwich
149 3.09.06 150 Doug Fleming M MV50 Horwich
215 3.23.15 205 Ian Hepburn M Sen Horwich
DNF 424 Ed Swift M MV60 Horwich