Coledale Horseshoe Fell Race Report

coledale1,025m ascent 7.5 miles
I had been wanting to do this race for a while having missed it last year through illness. It was a lonely journey over to the lakes as I was the only one travelling over. When I got there it was apparent that there had been some overnight snow on the tops and the race would now take place on the bad weather route to avoid dangerous conditions on Eel Crags. This cuts around 1 mile from the distance but adds an additional 100m climb.
At the race start I realised that I was not the only Saltwell Harrier running as I spotted Phil Pearson who lives over in the lakes and had a chat with him. Phil was looking in good condition!
As the conditions were cold and windy even in the valley and with wintry showers forecast I started off wearing a jacket as I thought it would be pretty wild on the tops. I lined up at the front as I didn’t want to get caught in the bottleneck at the first climb. Away I went with the fast runners at a furious pace which was good on one hand as there was no queuing at the first bottleneck after approx half a mile on the road. Once off the road there is a steep climb of around 700m onto Grisedale Pike. I was climbing pretty well towards the summit when Phil came past me. I managed to stay with him until the descent off Grisedale after which he disappeared into the distance! The descent was quite tricky with some icy rocks and a buffeting from the wind which made it difficult to stay on my feet. Luckily conditions were clear and there appeared to be no showers approaching.

The descent levels out at Coledale Hause and instead of climbing up to Eel Crags the bad weather route heads back down the valley on a rough stoney track for around a mile. After this there is a grassy ascent to rejoin the normal race route. This climb seemed to sap my energy and at the top it was a bit of a trudge towards the final summit of Barrow. At the top of Barrow I seemed to gain some energy and had a good run off Barrow to the finish, managing to pass a couple of people. The cup of tea, sandwiches and cake at the end went down a treat!
All in all I was pretty happy to finish in 1 hour 34 mins in 116th place out of 249. Phil finished an excellent 56th in 1 hour 25 mins.
Iain Armstrong