> 2010 race reports
18/04/10 Coledale Horseshoe Fell Race - from Chris Winter (photo: Chris)

Saturday 17th April 2010

It was with a mild sense of euphoria that I arrived at Scot Gate Campsite on Saturday morning after looking skyward to see cloud free hills. It was a relief to know that just my running, and not navigational ‘skills’ would be put to the test today. After ten years of walking practically every hill in the Lakes this was my first Lakeland race. Any of the nerves I had felt before any of my previous races were non existent and I couldn’t wait to get cracking.

Before we got going Phil Sanderson was kind enough to point out Simon Booth, the course record holder, to me. I now had a pacemaker identified to keep up with for the first part of the course – the route out of the campsite. This is surely one of the best things about fell running, where novices like myself get to compete in exactly the same races as the very best in the country.

Once underway I did my usual thing of starting slowly just so I could start overtaking people after a few 100 yards and make myself feel better. Once onto the fell I felt pretty good and continued slowly moving up through the field.

Before the race I had overheard some people chatting whilst studying the course map. They seemed to have identified a ‘flat bit’ during the first part of the race where they would be able to ‘get some good speed up’. I must have missed this bit. I spent most of my time plodding slowly upwards trying to decide if the people at the front had been able to run up any of this. Surely not.

It’s a long and rocky haul up to the top of Grisedale Pike. There’s something very satisfying about being in a race where you are using your hands and feet to scramble up a rock face as fast as you can.

At the summit I wasn’t sure if my legs ached more because of the amount of uphillideness or simply from being crushed under my own weight from having spent the entire race so far doubled over with my hands pressing firmly down on upon them.

Once at the top I got a shock to find myself now going downhill. After 43 minutes of only going up I had completely forgotten that I would, at some stage of the race, be required to perform such a task.

Following the people in front I picked up the sheep trod around the side of Sand Hill. This was a great bit of the race with views right down Coledale and right down the steep drop to my left. It was then a rocky scramble up to Eel Crag which seemed to go on for ages. Across the top I made sure to run through one of the last remaining patches of snow and also introduced myself to Billy Fraser. He was to be the first of a long list of runners to overtake me on the way back down. I think the only person that didn’t was a bloke carrying a bike.

By the time I got to Sail Pass I was exhausted and I could feel myself getting more tired with every step. I stumbled on, but now with the aim of just getting to the finish in one piece.

On the stony path round Outerside I met my old nemesis – the dreaded stitch. I tried to ward it off with a few choice words but it just got worse. It was at this point I ran past some spectators, one of whom kindly offered me a wine gum. I’m sure I heard one of them say ‘he looks like he’s in trouble, give him a sweet’ just before they did. I then suddenly had a brainwave. Perhaps if I ate the Mars bar I had in my bum bag I might get a bit of energy back. Eureka! It worked in minutes and I felt tonnes better. I then set off down the heathery slopes to Barrow with the people in front disappearing into the distance not quite as quickly as before.

After pulling myself together for the photographer on the way down Barrow I approached the farm track back into the village and managed to overtake someone whilst descending – there’s hope for me yet! I managed a bit of a spurt through the village for the crowds, entered the campsite, crossed the line in just shy of 1:43, and promptly collapsed (but feeling pretty chuffed I’d made it round).

Afterwards I went into Keswick for a mooch round the shops with my family. I don’t think a minute went by without me turning round to look at Grisedale Pike with a big sense of satisfaction.

And tiredness.

Chris Winter


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