Fairfield Horseshoe

Fairfield Horseshoe 2012

This years run, my first ever Fairfield Horseshoe race was indifferent, I could hardly be unhappy with my time, but crossed the finishing line cursing myself for not being quicker, I had missed my informal goal of running the course in under one and a half hours, by a minute.

On the outrun towards Nab Scar we were greeted with a foot and a half of deep cow slurry. Delightful, man up, run straight through it since there was no quick way around it. I slotted into the now snaking line of runners and began the increasingly steep ascent onto the main ridge proper, clawing my way passed a handful of other runners as I lurched and slid across the slightly boggy fellside.

I wasn’t feeling strong by the time we reached the main ridge and the proceeding 20 minutes was the weakest part of my race. Caught and overtaken by numerous runners, I could feel the tightened stride and lack of drive coming from my legs, I hung on, accepting of the fate that more could and possibly would pass me by. Arriving at Great Rigg the rot was beginning to stop, those in front were not pulling away, those behind becoming less of a concern. I kept running, others did not and gradually began to reel some of them back in.

I arrived on the summit of Fairfield with my watch just having passed the 53 minute mark. Turning towards Hart Crag, the gap had briefly opened up once more, on the fast, descending track. By the time we had reached Link Hause, I was back amongst them, the steeper, technical ground was playing much more to my strengths, I’d already overtaken one and was now on the heels of another 3 or 4. I stuck with them on the short climb back towards Hart Crag, from whose descent I then made my move, passing a number of other runners as we gained height again across to Dove Crag.

And so it remained as I felt my legs open up a little as we strode down the fast runnable ground towards High Pike. I could sense someone running hard behind me and sure enough, seconds later, passed came another runner. I tried not to worry, the ground was about to get a lot steeper and sure enough as we crashed down through the short steps, tussocks and rocks of Low Pike I hit back. I was now at the wall crossing, that marks the must-make detour to avoid the Bad Step. I was now running as hard as I could and not looking back. Ahead I could see the familiar figure of Mike Robinson, a person I’d, to date, not got close to being in contention with. It felt like a long, lonely run chasing down towards Sweden Bridge.

As I hammered the feet down into Rydal Park I let out a strained scream of anguish, looking at my watch I had just 3 minutes remaining, if I was to finish in under one and a half hours. A bystander cheered me on, telling me to keep pushing hard, but this track was killing me. I pushed, as I felt my legs get slower and slower. I was perhaps no more than 400 yards from the finish line as the seconds ticked over the one hour 30 mark, I could feel the immediate deflation in my body. I kept going, keen to be as close to my target as possible.

Distance: 16km Ascent: 910m Time: 1:31:18 Position: 25th

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About Richard Talbot

An accomplished fell-runner as well as being a keen climber and mountaineer. Since 2005 he has worked for the UK based manufacturer Mountain Equipment and is currently Director of Product. He has worked in the outdoor industry for over 15 years.
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