Race Report by Simon Roberts
Saturday 25th July – Lingmell Dash Fell Race (British Championship)
There’s nothing like a British Championship fell race for putting you in your place. No matter how good a season you might be having, mere mortals like myself get blown away instantly by the best fell runners in the sport.
Fortunately, there was nothing riding on this (the English leg of the four race series) for me. I was just accompanying Denbigh Harrier Vic Belshaw, who has decided to do the series this year. We are both keen climbers and he’d lured me in by the promise of a few routes on the crags in Eskdale and Duddon: and as a childlike seeker of novelty, I’m always up for a new race if I haven’t done it before.
So after a morning climbing on Hare Crag, I had the bright idea of jogging (walking would probably be a better description) in to the start of the race by way of a ‘warm up’: a value for money approach inspired by something similar Jez and I did last Wednesday, when we ran to the start of the Green Grass race from Cilcain.
The weather was glorious, although some high cloud pushed in as we started walking from the lovely village of Boot in Eskdale. An old bridleway winds up the hillside to the open moor, gaining height easily. After a five mile trudge over the moors from Eskdale, a long descent above Wastwater led down to the famous Wasdale valley and an even longer walk to pick up our numbers near the pub. There was just time for a coffee at the famous Ritson’s Bar before the race started. We resisted the urge for a pint, I’m proud to say.
The race in question was a short one – the Lingmell Dash – a five mile sprint from the pub with 2500ft of relentless climbing to the top of the eponymous peak, which lies in the shadow of Scafell.
I’ve done a few British Championship races over the years and they are always characterised by a ludicrously high quality field. There is no let up, and the pace was indeed relentless for the dash along Wasdale to pick up the main Brown Tongue path briefly. After this, streams of runners branched off for the direct route up the hillside to pick up the ‘Shoulder’ – the horribly obvious steep ridge coming down from the summit of Lingmell. This gives an absolutely brutal climb, very steep for several hundred metres. Even tougher in descent. I held on to finish back at the pub in 56.51. No idea where this put me in the field (apart from well down it) but it felt like a decent speed session if nothing else.
The long trudge back to Eskdale was, admittedly, slightly less fun than the jog over had been…