Lakeland Classics

Crowded between stone walls on the singletrack road outside the Three Shires Inn, elbow to elbow with some 240 fell runners, the ubiquitous PB van in the adjacent field, a first aid tent, a registration tent, the race organiser calling runners to the start on a PA, it is hard to believe that this, the Three Shires Fell Race, is one of the six races of the Lakeland Classics Trophy, conceived in 2002, to prevent the demise of Long A races altogether. It is the shortest of the six, and saw three times as many entries as the Wasdale which I ran in July. 
But still, with hundreds of runners hot on my heels in the opening charge, it is hard to believe these races came so close to becoming just another part of Lakeland history.
It is a tough race with a fast start, some interesting navigation, taxing climbs and fast descents and given that the last two months have been spent nursing a back injury I was happy to finish 29th in a time of 2hrs 21mins. 
But I was happier still to find that elusive sense of flow on the descent to the Three Shires Stone, to find my lines held good on the descent of Pike of Blisco, to find others following as we flew through the clag, the entire route in the cloud from the first summit, Wetherlam, and  to share the craic at the end of a race well run. 
It seems there remains little danger of the Long A races demise and I for one will be back next year.