Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Ennerdale Horseshoe fell race – 12 June

A bright sunny warm morning awaited the marshals, runners and supporters in Ennerdale last Saturday for the Ennerdale Horseshoe fell race – one of the ‘superlong’ Lakeland Classics races at 23 miles, 7500 feet and in 2010 an English Championship counter. Ennerdale is a remote valley in western Cumbria very close to the recent tragic shooting and these events were acknowledged by a 1 minute silence immediately before the start of the race.

To my mind this is, by far, the best of the Lakeland long races (a view shared, incidentally, by Joss Naylor who won the first nine of them), epitomising long distance racing in the hills. Starting at the mouth of the valley, running up one ridge to the head then turning and running back down the ridge on the other side with a mixture of rough rocky ground, steep climbs (both up and down) and long (all too) runnable grassy sections. Ennerdale is too remote to be troubled by many tourists and the absence of a road beyond the outfall of the lake ensures the upper valley and its Youth Hostel is a quiet, remote place.

EH FR-001 Ennerdale with the first climb (Great Bourne) on the left and Green Gable at the head of the valley in the far distance

EH FR-002 Great Bourne

EH FR-003Green Gable in the far distance with most of Crag Fell (the final hill) on the right 


EH FR-004 Joss Naylor MBE (on the right) with Peter Thompson before the start.

Like all long fell races there are cut-off times and for many of us the race or parts of it are against the cut-offs rather than against other runners. The early cut-offs at Ennerdale are particularly demanding and although they were to be relaxed a little, the later ones were to be strictly enforced – according to the last minute instructions issued on the start line.

EH FR - 100 Climbing Great Bourne


EH FR-005 Approaching Red Pike (second check point)

EH FR-006 From High Crag looking north west into Buttermere with Crummock Water below Grasmoor

EH FR-007 Looking back up Ennerdale from Crag Fell approaching the final check point

Rob Jebb (Bingley Harriers) led the field back in 03:34:06 and Jackie Lee (Eyri Harriers) was first woman in 04:23:43 The full results are available on the SportIdent website here.

EH FR-008 Almost there (photo: P. Charters)

My own performance was a somewhat more modest 05:41:07 in 207th place but only 10 minutes behind my best time, probably in similar conditions, from three years ago and my second fastest time overall so I am not disappointed.

Pauline, too, had a good day – a stroll up to Haycock with Joss where he helped the marshals hand out cups of, very welcome, water. This isn’t usual or expected but Ennerdale is a particularly dry route and there is only one source of water that can be relied upon and this is before the end of the outward leg and the return leg can be completely dry.

Huge thanks are due to the organisers and the marshals on the day – the race couldn’t happen without them and all the work they put in to it.









Almost there

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