> 2012 race reports
01/09/12 Grisedale Horseshoe- from John Duff (photos courtesy of Stuart Stoddart)

Four NFRs tackled The Grisedale Horseshoe Fell Race (10 miles & 5,000 ft) on Saturday.  The weather gradually improved, with the low cloud lifting and drizzle passing over so that just the top of Helvellyn was in the cloud.

There was a large field of 100 plus runners.  Ricky Lightfoot, Rob Hope, and Ben Bardsley led the charge up Birkhouse Moor pursued by a host of Ambleside runners.  I settled for a steadier pace, plodding up the fell in surprisingly warm conditions.  After passing the outlet to Red Tarn, the route heads straight up Catstye Cam.  The clouds were brushing the top and the lead runners already heading for Swirral Edge – it made an arresting sight. 

After scrambling on to the Hevlellyn summit plateau, we felt the full blast of a cool westerly wind.  The clag was down and suddenly there was hardly another runner in view.  I headed off to Nethermost Pike in company with a Clayton runner, retracing the route of the Old County Tops in reverse.  As I emerged from the mist on the descent to Grisedale Tarn from Dollywaggon Pike, I could see Mark Clarkson (NFR) ahead.  I thought I must have caught him up on the steep descent, but he later said he had gone on a trip towards Wythburn before a view of Thirlmere brought him to his senses.

On the climb up St Sunday Crag, Hazel Robinson (Ambleside), Mark and several others were ahead of me.  They gradually pulled away and I plodded on to the summit in splendid isolation.  I found the grassy line off the top and was soon bombing down the scree gully.  I could see Hazel Robinson taking a good line ahead, but where had Mark and the others gone?  I concluded they must have whizzed off, and focused my efforts on getting down the steep slope in one piece.

Grisedale Beck was crossable this year, so we were saved a trip up the valley to the footbridge.  This was just as well – as the final climb over Grisedale Brow doesn’t get any easier.  But eventually I was scrambling over the wall-stile, and enjoying the last descent back into Glenridding.  I finished in 2 hours 25 mins.  Mark came in 10 minutes later.  I hadn’t seen him on the descent from St Sunday Crag for a good reason – he had followed some runners over towards Gavel Pike and gone off course.  He cheerfully described it as “all good training”.  Next in for NFR was Bernard Kivlehan.  Graham Bingham was also there.

John and Mark - photos: Stuart Stoddart

Bernard and Graham - photos: Stuart Stoddart

After the race, the tea and sandwiches were top notch as always.  Achille Ratti put on a great race and an even better spread.  Unlike at the Old County Tops, I was able to do the tea full justice.  Many thanks are due to the organiser Alan Kenny and his team.  The race was won by Ricky Lightfoot in a fast time of 1 hour 45 mins.

John Duff

Stuart Stoddart's photos

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