Langdale Horseshoe 2019 race report
After two years of fairly abysmal weather, the forecast was dry with sunshine for this year’s race. Assembled was the usual quality field, including a couple of in-form Langdale first timers in the shape of Keswick’s Brennan Townshend and British Champion, Lochaber’s Finlay Wild. Joining them was a record field of 397 runners, improving on the previous record of 396 runners when it was a Championship race in 2016.
Despite the glorious forecast, ten minutes before the start the Crinkles and Bowfell were shrouded in heavy clag, and in the event field, relaxed chat turned to concerned looks westwards as the heavens opened and jackets were donned.
True to form, Brennan and Finlay were away up the first climb, taking over a minute out of the chasers, ascending Thunacar in little over 30 minutes and at Esk Hause in under an hour. They were to stay away, working together and pushing each other over the rough terrain from Esk Hause to Bowfell.
Mountaincraft, and his ability to move well over the roughest of ground, saw Finlay gap Brennan after Bowfell and he pressed home his advantage over Blisco to finish in a highly respectable time of 2 hours and 51 seconds. Brennan swung too far right approaching Blisco and was overhauled by the group behind, eventually finishing 6th. Finlay won by almost 9 minutes, and his performance, being ‘only’ 6 minutes outside Andy Styan’s 1977 record of 1 hour 55 minutes and 55 seconds, represents a potential record breaking effort on a sloppy day not conducive to fast times. Get this race in the British Champs in 2021 and let’s see the best in the UK pushing each other to challenge the oldest record in fellrunning!
Local lad Garry Greenhow, Ambleside AC, had a storming run to come home second and first V40 ahead of Keswick’s Carl Bell in third and Ambleside’s George Foster showing impressive late season form to finish 4th. Ian Holmes was pushed all the way to the line to win the V50 title by 5 seconds from Shettlestone’s Kenny Richmond. Phillip Pearson of Northern Fells rounded off a great season to finish first V60 in 2 hrs 50 mins. Ken Taylor of Rossendale was the first of 3 male V70 finishers in a little under 3 hr 30.
In the women’s race, English Champion Kelli Roberts stormed ahead to win in 2 hrs 32 mins, fourteen minutes clear of Sharon Taylor in second and first V40. If Kelli loves this race and the rough stuff, it is fair to say Sharon does not. She pleaded at the finish to be banned from all future editions of Langdale – ‘too much walking’ was her reason. I am delighted to offer Sharon FREE ENTRY to Landgale as long as I am organiser (an offer too good for any Yorkshire man or woman to refuse, surely?)
A strong run by Annie Roberts of Todmorden in third and Anna Lupton of Black Combe ran well to come in fourth and second V40. Natasha Fellowes of Chorley AC was first V50 and Kate Ayres of Ambleside was first V60.
To our knowledge, no V70 female had ever completed Langdale, but this year that changed as the inspirational Lesley Malarkey completed the course in 3 hr 55 minutes, easily winning her category!
Ambleside edged out Keswick and Helm Hill to win the men’s team prize and Helm Hill were victorious in the women’s team competition.
A huge thanks to all the helpers and marshals, not least those who helped a runner who fell descending the bad step and required Mountain Rescue assistance. Several competitors also ‘threw’ their race to assist the stricken runner and I am very grateful for that.
Aside from the classic course, this race is rapidly gaining a reputation for the quality pies at the finish. This year we had several enquiries about who supplies them. They are from the Great North Pie Co who have a bakery and café in Ambleside. They do us a great deal on the pies for the race, so if you are in Ambleside, why not drop in and treat yourself?