October 14, 2014 George Foster

Fellrunning: A Punter’s Guide No. 1 – Langdale Horseshoe

Ambleside's finest...him wit crazy name

The first in a new series of posts where I look at various races around the fell running calendar, make up spurious and illogical data, which I then present as historical fact, in order to support outlandish conclusions and finally attempt to predict future winners from a growing list of ‘likelys’. None of that make sense? Enjoy……….P.S. I’m only joking with some of the below comments (therefore – don’t be offended). P.P.S. the photos below aren’t mine, they’re from some very talented people but I don’t know who, sorry for using them, hope it’s ok, I’m poor so please don’t sue me.

Langdale Horseshoe AL 13.1m 4757ft climb

This one’s something of a classic, not much of what purists might call “run-ning” but a right lot of “climb-ing”. She’s a big old beast with a good sting in the tail. Best of all it starts and finishes from one of the greatest pubs in the known universe. It was my local race for a while. My times were never world beaters but it’s still one of my favourite runs (let alone races) ever. It’s got a raucous XC-style start where, in the land of the ruck, the man with the biggest elbows will win! A mile later you’re eating your knees as you hand-over-hand it up to Stickle Tarn. Plunge into the icy water (don’t forget to sneer at those picking their way across on the stones) and relish the fact that you’re able to run this next bit around and behind the tarn to the steep climb up to the right of Pavey. It’s usually misty here but you can fuck your map off for a little bit longer cos unless you’re retarded you can’t exactly get lost. But wait………now you’re beginning to breathe a bit better, your legs aren’t so heavy, maybe you’ve arrived at the top of the mini gully? Maps out as the lady you were following does one into the fog. You’re in for it now. That map I told you to ‘fuck off’? You have still got it right? Mess up the bearing here and you could either take the shortcut down Jack’s Rake or end up stumbling about down in Borrowdale for the rest of the afternoon. Whoops. Drag your legs through Martcrag Moor and you’ll eventually find yourself at the top of Stake Pass. Quick traverse under and then through Black Crag brings you by Rossett Ghyll and then Angle Tarn. You’re not even halfway through yet. Shi’ite! From there bang a slight left along the steep drag up to Esk Hause, scream obscenities into the wind in the general direction of where you were told the marshalls were and go back on yourself to pass under Esk Pike and pick your way up to Ore Gap. Easy money. NOW you’re halfway through-ish. Get sippers on some water on the way up this if you can cos unless you’re packing some H2O you aren’t gonna get anything until halfway down towards Blisco – and you’re not gonna want to stop there. Ok get yourself up on Bowfell and show off to the tourists as you plummet back down the rocky path towards Three Tarns. Find a way through Crinkle Crags – I’m not gonna tell you the ‘best’ way cos guess what….there isn’t one. Sure you can risk going round to the right and traverse back up in time for the Bad Step, likewise you could bang straight through and hope for the best. If you know the area you’ll know your route. Stick with it. Only thing I will say is, it’s a lot quicker going down the Bad Step. I’ve tried all other ways trust me. Quick blast up to Long Top then that fast as owt section crossing the beck (drink if you need to – but you’ve only got a couple of miles left and Granny Smith is GOING to catch you) towards Blisco. This is the real bastard sting in the tail. Douglas Bader walk your way up this monstrosity (make sure you recce your line off this) and, after a little potter by the cattle grid on the Blea Tarn road, race on down to glory and a pint of Yates (or a half lager shandy top if you’re a Southern ponce). Phew. Done right?

Where you can go very wrong………coming off the top by Thunacar Knott, keeping going at Esk Hause (you’ve gotta be a right dick to do that), missing the Bad Step and Long Top and ending up down in Eskdale (this happens A LOT), coming down the wrong line off Blisco and ending up in Little Langdale and (worst of all) at the Three Shires pub – NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

The men’s record was set in 1977 (!!!) – people weren’t even ALIVE back then!! CRRRAZZZYY! This is a fact that has troubled me deeply in Fellicionado Manor. Who will beat Andy Styan’s 1hr 55mins 3secs?! Likewise, who will beat Helen Diameterwhatchamacallit’s 1992 record of 2hrs 23mins 25secs??? Luckily I’ll do all the thinking for you. With each of these “Punter’s Guides” I’ve compiled a list of the candidates likeliest to break these respective records. But, like the inventor of fire, there can be only one!………unless it gets beaten the year after. In no particular order………

The Colts

Tom Addison (Helm Hill) – 3/1 on

No one anywhere near him at all

No one anywhere near him at all

Won his maiden English Champs blah blah blah. Local lad. Been racing since he was a whipper snapper.

For – winning like it’s going out of fashion; has the mythical ‘extra gear’; has youthful good looks so in theory will make a shit ton of money from advertising for expensive watch brands and fashion outlets, then using this wealth will assemble a team of scientists to fit bionic legs in place of his normal ones that are impervious to fatigue and can achieve consistent cadences of 85-90 rpm over any terrain known.

Against – wins like fuck but seems to lack confidence somehow; not really done many ‘long’ races; probably going to go the way of Georgie Best and Paul Gascoigne i.e. the money and women will inevitably lead to drug addiction and a spiralling life of alcoholism leading to the ‘screaming at cats’ decline.

Morgan Donnelly (Borrowdale) – 5/2

Oh Morgan, you sexy bastard

Oh Morgan, you sexy bastard

The gremlin looking one from northern Lakes. Always there or there-abouts.

For – fit as a bastard and a ruddy good egg of a runner; a name like his hints at a family bloodline imbued with the luck of the Irish; can eat NINE eggs in one sitting (some say more); doesn’t sweat as his skin is made of rubber as part of a natural evolution brought about from living down Borrowdale all his days = less drag through the air.

Against – don’t know if he’s ever won this one? And given that I don’t know if he has or not, I’m just gonna assume that he hasn’t; probably got castles to haunt or something; can’t follow anyone in the fog cos everyone’s scared of him (even though he seems like a very nice man) and runs like fuck to get away – that and he’s usually way out front; doesn’t sweat = like a horse he can only cool down by way of the ‘bellows’ effect (scientists have proven that this is a bad thing); does sweat really.

Rob Jebb (Bingley) – 4/1

Don't be fooled, he's still at ground level dragging the hill towards him

Don’t be fooled, he’s still at ground level dragging the hill towards him

Strong as all hell. A Yorkshireman but now lives near Kendal. Cyclo-cross (yeah I’ve never heard of it either) winner of things.

For – what hasn’t he won?; wise and experienced; is impervious to gravity; has a cadence in excess of 1,000,000 rpm; is a bit of a Chuck Norris in that he climbs hills by pulling them down to him; grandad piston legs; runs for Bingley so EVERYONE else is scared of him; Yorkshireman so couldn’t give a fuck about anything.

Against – old; too busy singing nursery rhymes, not sleeping and burping babies to run hard (but he still does); has a proper job and jobs are bad for running.

Rob Hope (Pudsey and Bramley) – 7/2

That's how old he is....they hadn't invented colour yet

That’s how old he is….they hadn’t invented colour yet

The old stalwart of racing. Can probably remember when Kenny Stuart was a kid. Races for the ultimate ‘couldn’t-give-a-rats-arse-but-we’ll-turn-up-and-spank-you-anyway-cos-we’re-like-that’ club ever.

For – couldn’t-give-a-rats-arse-but-he’ll-turn-up-and-spank-you-anyway-cos-he’s-like-that; bald so streamlined; probably drinks a lot so has a reason to need to run super fast, which he does; doesn’t wear a race number so can reduce his drag coefficient by upwards of 0.3 in mass; also probably punk as fuck so uses the energy from the music to pound races into dust; whom the phrase “there’s always Hope” was coined after.

Against – I don’t like to trade in stereotypes but he is bald so probably lacks the virility to smash in this record; punk – look at Joe Strummer.

Ben Abdelnoor (Ambleside) – 6/1

Ambleside's finest...him wit crazy name

Ambleside’s finest…him wit crazy name

The true local. Crazy name and crazy accent (maybe on account of his crazy name? no DEFINITELY on account of his crazy name).

For – knows these hills like I know that if I drink too much beer I’ll get drunk (1 to 2 pints usually does it); has come within 12 mins of the record; speaks with an impenetrable accent so people are less inclined to ask for route advice; broke his back a few years back so is obviously a hard bastard; works as a chef so is all over his nutrition; has poster-boy good looks (see Tom Addison); heck of a good runner.

Against – gets injured a lot and injuries are bad for the universe; missed this season through injury; was injured through a lot of last season; is therefore now undoubtedly massively fat from eating all the cakes he bakes….all because he went and got himself injured.

The Philly’s

Vic Wilkinson (Bingley) – 2/1 on



Winning constantly. Is a winner. Wins. From Yarkshure. More self-belief than Shane Warne on a coke bender.

For – WilkInsoN; is getting to the point where not even the beast men are safe; seems really dour, dourness = intense, intense = results, results = confidence, confidence = records getting bust open; Yorkshirewoman so knows the meaning of a tough life; nicknamed ‘The Metronome’ by no-one at all but I reckon it’ll now catch on; fast as shit off a shovel; not intimidated by ANYONE – not even Vinnie Jones.

Against – hasn’t broken the record yet; unlikely to unless the Langdale becomes one of the Champs races next year; getting into the European racing scene = bad (well good, but bad in this instance).

Mel Price (Mercia) – 4/1

Not actually got curly hair but it's too late to change it now

Not actually got curly hair but it’s too late to change it now

Midlands crusher. Ms/Miss/Mrs Consistency. Wears yellow and yellow, as everyone knows, is a girls colour.

For – has the industrial might of the Midlands behind her i.e. she obviously trains by running up and down abandoned steelworks and brewery towers; is from the Midlands so is therefore one of the strongest, toughest motherfuckers on the planet (guilty as charged); has curly hair (I think?!?) so can think like the sheep think, picking out all the best lines and trods to take.

Against – not many hills or crags in the Midlands; no phone reception or internet in Shropshire yet so is unlikely to have heard about this race; Langdale? Where’s that? Exactly.

Jackie Lee (Eryri) – 5/2

English but Welsh......I'm confused

English but Welsh……I’m confused

Welsh club, English accent = there’s something fishy going on, but then again it’s getting weird NOT hearing an English accent in and around Llanberis these days….and that can only be a good thing.

For – the only known person to beat Vic Wilkinson this year and survive (Ennerdale); only one of the three Philly’s to train on actual mountains; actress looks so all the guys automatically want to help her; runs for a Welsh club and the blood of the fathers in the land of Owain is strong – PLAID CYMRU!!!

Against – likely to have better things to do; been told by Vic Wilkinson that if she comes within 10 feet of her again she’ll have a block knocked off (anyone who’s been to an English primary school knows how that feels).




Sometime soon…………..Carnethy 5 (I’ll try and do these posts to coincide with the actual race, not 2 weeks later or whenever).


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