This one is a must do. One of the big classic races, outstanding records, legends and fairytales, attracts the very best. No frills.
The Fairfield Horseshoe is a 16km fell race with 1100 metres of ascent and includes the peaks of:
Nab Scar (440 metres)
Heron Pike (612 metres)
Great Rigg (766 metres)
Fairfield (873 metres)
Dove Crag (792 metres)
High Pike (656 metres)
Low Pike (508 metres)
With my kit checked and my Pete Bland, Harvey’s route map neatly folded in my pocket, I stood at the start line feeling like a complete fool. It was wet, grey and everyone looked grizzled and lean. I’d recced the route a few weeks before in glorious sunshine. A mix of running, hiking, taking pictures and falling over….it had taken just under 4 hours….. this wasn’t looking good.
Still, I decided that I was going to aggressively enjoy this race no matter what, and as the wind picked up, I plastered a defiant smile across my face. I. Will. Enjoy. This. Race. 😊
Needless to say it’s all uphill at the start. I started near the back and even so, I was surprised at the pace, it wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be. Certainly a far more measured approach than other fell races that I’ve started near the back in….maybe it was because there was more people- around 400- huge for a fell race.
I took it easy and was heartened to be overtaking people, we got to a gully and lots of runners were deciding whether to jump or climb down and climb back up the other side. As I inched to the edge to make my decision, my feet slipped and the decision was made for me….you’re not going to climb down and climb back up the other side…you’re not going to jump across…no, what you’re going to do is TOMBSTONE into the gully amid horrified gasps of observing runners.
Keep that smile on your face kid. 😊
And I did, I climbed out of the gully and kept going, I’d only slightly injured myself. Happy days.
My new found aggressively positive approach (plus a few gels) kept me feeling AMAZING and I actually really enjoyed the climbs up towards Fairfield. I was gaining a couple of places and realised that I was quite comfortable and didn’t need to stress about coming last. By the time I’d reached Fairfield, the visibility had really deteriorated and there was just a blurry figure in the distance. This was one of the ‘go wrong’ areas and even though id recced the route, it took on a completely different quality in the clag. This was ghost ship territory and as I blindly headed in what I believed was the right direction, clusters of runners clutching compasses emerged out of the mist. We naturally settled on a route and as we dropped down through the rocky sections, the wind dropped, things became a lot clearer and we were heading in the right direction. Lots of smiley faces now 😊😊😊😊😊
I was pleased to see the wall which is then followed down most of the descent. Before I knew it, I’d made it and was back on the track. I hadn’t stretched myself too far and was able to pick off a couple of people on the final gruelling section (if you ask anyone what the worst bit is about the Fairfield Horseshoe, everyone rolls their eyes and mutters ‘the track at the end’).
I finished around half way in the female field and 16 in my category. This race wasn’t about times or places though, it was about doing something that means something. This means (to me) that I’m a ‘proper fell runner’ Big smiley face 😁