Saturday 2 September 2017

Race Report: Grisedale Horseshoe fell race 

It’s always a relief when you are crawling on your hands and knees up a mountain with your muscles screaming for you to stop, and looking behind you through your legs you see that the guy behind you is doing exactly the same, then you look up through your arms and the guy just ahead of you is doing the same too.  Clearly it’s not just me that’s bonkers, plus it looks like I’m catching the guy in front, maybe I can gain another place?  Blimey, get a grip, how can I think about racing when I can’t even stand up and I’m gasping for a drink!  Anyway, rewind, that was the last climb, I should go back to the start in Glenridding where 3 gutsy A&T athletes (Ant, Carl and me) lined up with 150 competitors and listened to the race director give a bit of a rant about people not turning up with full kit, before a count from 3 set us off.  

A short run up the road and a signpost at a fork showed that we needed to turn right for Helvellyn, this navigation bit is a doddle!  We continued to follow a stony path, but it wasn’t long before we turned off onto the fells from Hole in the Wall and across to the first checkpoint at Catstycam.  From there it was across to Swirral Edge via Red Tarn, with fantastic views and a great bit of clambering over rocks to make it up to Helvellyn.  This is a bit I know quite well and it’s very runnable across to Dollywaggon, with an amazing, but punishing, descent down to Grisedale Tarn, avoiding Cock Cove (that’s a mistake you don’t make twice!).  I splashed my way across Grisedale Beck and onto the slog up to St Sunday Crag.  

Knowing the best route is a good part of successful fell running and Anthony had mentioned that there was a great descent off the Crag down a scree chute, if you knew where to go, but if you missed the right line you could end up crag-bound.  The safe alternative was a long loop around the path.  I watched the line of runners in front safely continue off down the path to the right, but then suddenly the guy directly in front of me furtively swerved off to the left.  This is it I thought, the secret scree chute and plunged off the side of the crag in hot pursuit.  I love scree, if you get it right, you can run down at a blistering pace as the scree cushions your steps and allows you almost to ski down.  This guy knew what he was doing and we ended up gaining a load of places just through good route choice.  Plus I overtook him, ha ha!

At the bottom we splashed through another beck and were soon onto the last climb, a massive sting in the tail, which I may have mentioned earlier as being rather difficult.  The guy at the top read my A&T Road Runners top and told me that I was a long way from any roads, cheeky bugger!  We then headed off down the last descent to Glenridding which under normal circumstances I’d have rattled down, but my legs were shredded by this point and I made it down as best I could to the finish line (thank god!).

Another fantastic fell race done, and only one left in the A&T Champs now, which is Withins Skyline on Sunday 8th Oct and promises to be more gentle at 7.5 miles and only 984ft of climb. 


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