Langdale Horseshoe

by Tonk

I’ve never been that fussed about doing champs races. I don’t really see much point in me doing them at the moment. I don’t feel like I bring much (if anything) to the team other than some comic relief and verbal abuse. Which is why I’ve not done any so far this year. 

One thing I am fussed about is the Langdale Horseshoe. It’s a fantastic route. Even a steady jog out around it feels like an adventure. It’s a proper fell race. Rough, gnarly, steep, runnable, grassy and boggy. Along with Borrowdale I would say it’s my favourite route. With the race being in October the weather has seldom been kind in the 6 times I’ve ran it. Whenever the weather is crap I convince myself it’s an advantage to be over 11 stone. The wind won’t affect as much. I remember seeing a photo of Martin Mikkelsen-Barron getting blown all over the place one year. He had 75 million layers on and looked, and probably felt, like he’d been through a washing machine twice. I’d run in just a vest and managed to run in straight lines, overtaking a lot of folk who’d been blown over. 

Last year I had a stinker though, the clag was horrendous. I took a dozen wrong turns and missed the trods I claim to know reasonably well. I finished in 2:50 and proceeded to tell Calum Tinnion (KAC men’s captain at the time) that I shouldn’t be on the nav leg for the following weekend’s British Relay champs. He told me not to be daft, and keep my chin up. Fortunately I had an absolute blinder at the relays, having one of my best ever runs. That inspired me to push on over winter and I’ve had some pretty good runs this year as a result of it. 

Langdale as a champs race makes perfect sense to me. However, I absolutely dread the first couple of miles. 450 folk squeezing along the narrow path from the ODG to the NDG is not pleasant. Unless you’re one of the superfast crowd you will inevitably get stuck behind folk. I’d left it a bit late in heading over to the start line from the car and was in a very poor starting position. So when we set off I was left taking an outside line round the first few bends. We came to a standstill 3 times in the first half mile. I wanted to push on but I resisted the urge as I know it’s a bit old first climb. 

I couldn’t get into a rhythm on the climb up the side of the ghyll. I was also stuck behind 3 of the smelliest armpits I’ve ever come across. I actually wretched at one point and was very close to bringing up my breakfast. I put on a spurt to get past them, and luckily I didn’t see (smell) them again. 

As we climbed up to the summit of Thunacar Knott I was having a bit of a crack with Pete Rigby. I managed to get to the top just before him and pushed on down the boggy descent. On my right hand side a chap has staggered off the trod to throw up, I wonder if he’s been stuck behind those armpits too. 

I took my usual line of staying left over the bogs, but completely underestimated how wet it had been. I sank hip deep into bog, twice. A downside to being over 11 stone. By the time my line joined in with the others, Pete was ahead of me. I must have lost 45 seconds or so. Stupid boy I tolf myself. I cram a gel down me as we traverse under Rossett Pike as I’ve become stuck behind some blokes who have already blown up.

I managed to run reasonably well up to Esk hause, and get a cheer from Dava. He asks if I’m having fun. I can only reply “ish”. I turn round at and set off on the traverse under Esk Pike. It’s really really slape. I catch a group up in front of me and once again get stuck behind them. Somehow Pete Rigby thunders through them and gets away. I fall over twice trying to see how he’s got past them. Why can’t I seem to do that?! I decided to just keep an eye on him, take it steady over this section so I have the legs for later on. Eventually I get past some of them and go well enough up Bowfell to catch Pete. 

Coming off Bowfell Pete turns round to see who it was behind him “Oh bloody hell, it you!” he says. “You do know I cannot let you beat me right!?” I say to Pete. Rachael May would humiliate me if it happens. Together we both take a poor line to the top of the scree section. I once again get stuck behind someone, Pete once again gets away. There seems to be a recurring theme here today I think! This time Pete’s shoelace has come undone. He stopped to tie it and I didn’t see him again. 


I’m feeling pretty good at this point and didn’t get stuck behind anyone else. Took a good line to avoid the bad step and go well after that. As I’m approaching the Blisco climb I go knee deep into the bog twice. Then see Dan Haworth walking. I shout over some love and ask if he’s ok “Aye, I’ve f***ed it!” he says. At the bottom of Blisco I get a few jelly babies off his sister Vic was saving for him. Thanks dan! 


Heading up Blisco I’ve had enough of bogs for one day. So I decided to stick closer to the path than everyone else. This seemed to pay off as I actually caught folk up and put some distance between the others. Coming off the summit I’m stuck behind two folk, one wearing trail shoes. Having had enough of running at other peoples pace I just go for it. Barge my way past and try to enjoy the very wet descent. 

I ended up on my own for the rest of the race after that. Which was actually quite nice, but if I’d had someone in sight to chase I’d have maybe pushed more. I eventually finished in 2:38:17. Somehow setting a new personal best. Annoyingly though I came in 53rd place, just missing out on a top 50 finish in a champs race. 

Without shadow of a doubt THE best part of the race was the pie at the end. It was probably one of the best pies I’ve ever had. I could probably write a much more interesting report on the pie! We sit around having a crack waiting for prize giving. One of the real hot topics is Harry Bolton’s hair. He finished the run with his hair looking exactly the same as when he started. We all wonder if it actually changes shape and appearance once he’s washed it. 



At prize giving it’s announced that because Brennan came in 2nd place he’s also finished 2nd overall in the English Champs this year. Nicola Jackson was first lady, and she also finished 2nd overall in the champs. 

Last year’s Langdale winner, Matty Atko, finished 4rd in a quicker time than his winning time last year. Young Lego hair, Harry Bolton, came 10th. 

Full results here

We drive back and I head up to see my Grandad. More on that in the next race report.