Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Fairfield Horseshoe Fell Race 2016 (61/316)

Although 1 or 2 of us have done lakes fell races before, we've never coordinated it across the running club. Times are changing in the club - so after Chris posted on our club Facebook account that it was Fairfield in 2 months time - my ears pricked up! This was the second ever fell race I'd done - way back in 1999 and only one month after my very first ever fell race - Black Combe. Back in 1999 I wasn't really a 'runner' - I'd just gone up to the lakes and ran as I love the mountains and loved running uphill. My time from 1999 was 1h49 which got me 183rd out of 307 runners. Oh no - I now had a time to aim for so the pressure was on !!
Ed (vest in wash!), Chris, Me, Andy, Claire, Nathan, Helen and Clare raring to go!
We met up with Clare / Claire at the essential lakes stop-off-en-route cafe - Wilfs in Staveley. Everyone was very excited with Chris / Clare and Claire polishing off a serious amount of foodage - Andy and me preferring to steer well clear before a race. Traffic was bad through Ambleside probably due to the great weather which meant that we didn't have a great deal of time to run to registration, meet up with the others, register, warm up and go to the loo. After a very very thorough kit check (great news in my opinion even with excellent weather) we were through and ready to go.

The start line was moved from where I remember it 17 years ago (somewhere over to the left?) and about 15 minutes later than planned - we were off! The start goes up a track for about half a mile before veering off left on sheep trods then left again alongside a wall to the main ridge. Running felt 'verging on uncomfortable' but manageable despite my calves having barely recovered from the BDL race last Tuesday (I'd not run for 2wks previous to that hence calf ache). As we got to the ridge Nathan was only 3 runners in front of me. "Concentrate on your pace not keeping up with him" I was telling myself through the whole of the climb to Fairfield summit. Thankfully, I managed that quite comfortably and we summited together exchanging a few brief words before he shot off on the descent. Nice to see Lily too at the summit cheering us on !
Fairfield Fell Race route from my gpx
Fairfield Fell Race route profile from my gpx
The descent on Fairfield is something to behold - perfect grassy ridge running mostly over non technical terrain with views over the whole of South Lakeland - truly enjoyable! Nearer to the bottom there are sections of rock (as there are around Hart Crag at the start) which often can be avoided to the left by following grassy trods. Note to self : Remember these next time! As ever, runners started to pass that I'd picked off on that climb - never mind - that's what always happens!!
Approaching the finish line - whilst narrowly avoiding cramp in BOTH calves!
As it was so warm on the day, I knew I would be close to cramping up by the end and I was but very narrowly managed to avoid it on the descent and final track run in. Crossing the line in 61st place and 1h40 so 9 mins faster than 17 years ago - result! Sadly I lost 30 places to Nathan on the descent - well perhaps 20-25 as he overtook some (including Ed).

It was lovely at the finish waiting for the others coming in whilst bathing in the full on sunshine! The day was topped off with a drink or two in the Golden Rule pub before heading back South.

Lets hope this is the first of many!

Strava here
Strava Flyby here (we didn't have that 17 years ago!)
Full results here

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