Langdale Horseshoe - English Champs 9th!!
Almost sacked this race off due to my current back troubles. Had a long think about it and as it has been fine when running I just thought why not? Feeling okay on the start fine if a little tight in the quads but nothing to worry about. Haven't been aiming at this race at all and so absolutely no pressure today, hadn't even reccied the route.
Set off at a comfy pace and then moved into position on the early slopes of Thunacar. Tucked in behind Alex Whittem and Phil Whinskill as three clear groups formed. Very steep up here so just tapping away, as easy as possible. Went passed a few more with Alex before CP1 and got behind Garry, Kim Collison and Joe Baxter. Moved well again up the final climb to the top of Thunacar and our group closed in Karl Gray and some others. Could see Pete Bray with Crickmore about a min ahead. As we hit the top me, Joe and Kim had pulled away a little from those behind but I was planning on taking the descent fairly easy so I eventually got caught by a big group behind and those two got away.
Had a gel at the bottom of the next climb and led a group of 5 or so across to the path up to Esk Hause. I think me Garry, Karl Gray and Gav Mulholland had got a gap by this point and as soon as we hit the path the Calder Valley express went straight past at speed. I dug in and just focused on Gavs shoes as we dropped Garry. Hit the climb and I was all of a sudden feeling great. I pushed on straight past and closed right in on Joe and Kim. Hit the CP just behind Joe as Kim had left him a little with Karl and Gav just behind. Started the traverse and could immediately tell that Joe couldn't run over the rough stuff. Got past as soon as I could and worked on closing Kim down. I was unsure of lines and knew he'd know them. Didn't look back but knew there was a gap behind. As I rounded the corner before the boulder field a group of Tim Ellis, Mark Lamb, Jack Wood, Morgs, Holmsey appeared with Pete a little way off the back. I caught Kim and we eventually reeled in Pete by the top of Bowfell.
I think we lost Pete on the scree descent down to the start of the Crinkle Crags. We closed a little on that big group and then as we rounded one of the corners I spotted Jonny just ahead of that group. Had to calm myself down a bit here as I was in new territory in terms of people I've been racing with and I was getting far too excited! Talking to other people after the race I think we were all too low on this line but it didn't matter at the time as everyone was doing the same thing. We had almost made contact with the group by the summit of Crinkle Crags but Kim thought we were going to the right hand hill so lost them a little. Fortunately Bad Step backed everyone up and so by the bottom of the descent at Red Tarn I had just about caught the stragglers.
As we started the climb up Blisco I was still feeling good and knew I had to have a good climb to hold people off on the long descent. Immediately dropped Kim and went past Morgz. I really did have to pinch myself here! I then got past Tim Ellis and Jack Wood who were both struggling and tried to close down Holmsey. Started feeling my inner thighs begin to cramp and just told myself to forget about it - no point worrying now and nothing I could do anyways. About 3/4s of the way up Morgz came past me somewhat effortlessly and I couldn't respond. Kept the gap to within 20 secs as he and Holmsey summited together. Had a quick look behind and no one close so time to attack! Got a good line off Blisco and went past Morgs like he wasn't moving, which was really something because I certainly wasn't going that fast! Holsmey on the otherhand had absolutely smashed it and was 200m away already. Saw Crickmore and Mark Lamb ahead but probably had at least a minute so just tried to keep it strong. Then saw Holmsey heading off on the Three Shires line way ahead and had a little chuckle. I got the right line and went over the crest and saw Crickmore and Mark Lamb appear from the right about 50m ahead, holy crap, I've a got a chance, go go go! Then in swung Holmsey about 25m ahead. Came into view of the cattle grid and final CP and all I could hear was Selwyn going mad. Had a peak behind me as I was running down the side of the fence and saw a purple and then a red and yellow vest about 20 secs back. Oh god, Barbie, where the hell has he come from?! This made me attack the last bit more than I wanted to and I was starting to feel cramp coming on more aggressively. Got through the last 500m event-free with a 20sec gap to Holmsey in front and 20 secs to Barbie behind.
Wow what a run! Enjoyed every second of it, perfectly paced and took some serious scalps. Must've been about 10 people I've never come close to beating before. Chuffed to bits and love that Barbie's hitting form too. Hopefully we'll be regular visitors to the top 10 next season! Ambleside had 4 in the top 30 which was nice to see.
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