> 2009 race reports
10/10/09 Langdale Horseshoe 2009 - from Dave Johnson

12 miles / 5000' (AL)

Three NFRs, Phil Sanderson, Dave Johnson and Trevor Wakenshaw, took part in this year's Langdale Horseshoe. I can't speak for the rest but for me it turned out to be a race punctuated by several definite high and low points. High point number one actually happened before the race when I noticed that the walls in the dining room of my Ambleside B&B, 3 Cambridge Villas, (advert), were plastered with  photographs of fell runners. They turned out to be of the owner's sons.

The first low point was also pre race and hit me the following morning when the friend whose car I'd travelled in was unexpectedly called away, leaving me to get the bus back. It was also a dismal morning weather-wise, despite the improvement that was forecast.

There was still no sign of an improvement when I arrived at the ODG at 10am and I wasn't inclined to believe the organiser who told me it was sunny up at Blea Tarn. Well, events proved him right, at least initially. Half way up to Stickle Tarn I emerged into the sunshine and those, like me, who were going slowly enough to look behind them were treated to a spectacular view of a mist filled Langdale. At this point the cloud was above the summits although by the time I reached Esk Hause the clag was coming in again on the likes of Bowfell and Crinkle Crags.

Esk Hause was another high point when I reached it 10 minutes up on last year's time. Unfortunately all this and more was lost between Bowfell and Long Top when I must have inadvertently put on my “stupid head”. I was running with a fairly large group, or at least I was when I reached Bowfell which was now back in the clouds. On the descent, I was concentrating on keeping my footing instead of looking at the bigger picture and was only really conscious of the guy immediately in front of me. When he slowed up and asked me where we were, I looked around and was surprised to see that everyone else had vanished! More to the point, other than that we were somewhere between Bowfell and Crinkle Crags, I didn't have a clue where we were. After a bit of indecisive meandering about during which we picked up another waif and stray, we decided we were in a no mans land between the tourist route and the racing line. We headed upwards to join the former and were relieved to immediately meet up with some more runners. I promised myself it would be a long time before I blindly followed anyone else again.

Would you call 60 minutes a long time? I didn't think you would. This was the time it took me to reach Pike O Blisco and go wrong again, but before that my race took a decided turn for the better.  I managed to avoid a queue at the “Bad Step” when I luckily spotted the bypass on the left and this gained me a few seconds and a few places. I also had a really enjoyable run down to the foot of Pike O Blisco and even passed a few people on the climb up to the summit. Better still, I'd made up about half the time lost on Bowfell.

Now, I know full well what the fastest way off Blisco is, I've used it many times in the past, but now for the second time I inexplicably followed some other people who went the wrong way. Too late I realised I'd engaged my “stupid head” again and a belated attempt to traverse rightwards only made matters worse before I eventually got back onto the right line. However, despite all of this fooling about I still felt surprisingly fresh and was  looking forward to having a long relatively fast run down to the finish.

However, the full English breakfast I'd been unable to resist eating earlier on had other ideas. I'd just worked up to a good speed when a worrying sense of unease gripped me in the region of the lower torso. I had no option but to reduce speed to a pace that enabled me to keep control of a certain vital bodily function. Thankfully the crisis had abated by the time I reached the cattle grid on the Blea Tarn road and the rest of the race passed off without incident.

Surprisingly Phil was the first of the trio home in a creditable 28th place with the me and Trevor finishing hot on his heels some 200 places and 2 hours later. It had been a mixed race for me but I was quite happy with my fitness. Phil was long gone by the time we'd finished so I didn't get to conduct a post race interview with him. Trevor though was pleased to have knocked a few minutes off last year's time.

Some photos of the race are here http://www.flickr.com/photos/north_ender/sets/72157622432134889/ (Some good ones of the clouds in Langdale), and here [by Darian Bridge]   http://www.keswicklakedistrict.co.uk/fellraces/ld09/index.htm

Dave Johnson

results on Ambleside AC's website

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