Buttermere Horseshore – Darren Hollaway Memorial Race Race Report and Result

By: Jim Rangeley
Race Date: Saturday 22nd June 2024
Venue: Loweswater, Cumbria
“Short Course” Race Distance: 13 miles (20.8 km)

You’re probably aware by now if you’ve read any of my reports before that I’m a glutton for the punishment of hills, so naturally Lakeland fell races have been on my proverbial radar for quite a while. A mix of fell race history, stonking hills, difficult terrain and the unpredictability of British weather – what more is there to ask for?!

The Solstice weekend away with Striders coincided nicely with one of these classic fell races. The “Darren Hollaway Memorial Buttermere Horseshoe” is a 22 mile romp from Loweswater over the hills as far as Honister Pass and looping back, keeping Crummock Water and Buttermere on the right and visiting a lot of the peaks along the way with about 2,500m of ascent. So with a mix of hubris and trepidation I entered the race back in December last year.

Then a couple of months ago I took a little tumble, leading to a two night stay at the Northern General Orthopaedic Ward after a surgical debridement and nine stitches near my knee. Since returning to the trails my fitness has had a bit of a knock but my confidence, moving around the hills in the peaks was unabashed, thankfully. I sadly missed out on a few of my planned challenges for late Spring and saw the weekend in the Lakes as a good target to aim towards. Luckily, the race also offered a “short” course – a mere 13 miles, along the standard route but cutting through the village of Buttermere and missing out a hill or two. And so I was very happy to step down to a mere half marathon.

Whilst I was the only first claim Strider running, I did drive over from our campsite with Chris Lawson of Dark Peak who had made a similar choice in terms of distance (after supporting leg 1 of a successful Bob Graham event the day before). Both races set off together from the village hall down the road and into Lanthwaite Woods, before the climb began in earnest.

For someone who runs quite a lot on the hills in the peaks, you get used to hills that are generally pretty runnable, not too steep and if they are, they don’t tend to be that long. These hills are by no means adequate preparation for the hills of the Lakes. Whiteside, the first climb of the day, has an ascent of 520 m over 1.5 km, Win Hill for context has half the climb in about the same distance. So as to be expected on my first fell race in the Lakes, undertrained, and in full sun, by the time I dibbed at the first checkpoint I was a little worse for wear.

The visibility was stunning on the tops – on the back side of Whiteside views into Keswick could probably have been witnessed, but I wasn’t able to see through the sweat and blood pulsing behind my eyes. A little splash of my cap and Small Park Big Run buff in a stream up to the checkpoint on Grasmore provided welcome relief from the heat.

While the subsequent climbs weren’t as long or as arduous as the first, they’d certainly given my legs a bit of a battering so by the time I did come to drop-down my knees were clattering a bit. I had thought maybe when the fork of the two races came I’d have a sense of FOMO, but seeing the line of runners on the longer route head down to Newlands Pass and back up toward Robinson I was feeling smug with my decision.

A bit of tarmac and hard pack trail running through Buttermere village weaving through walkers then heading along the shore of Crummock took me toward the last ascent of the race. I followed a small stream of runners ahead, like a bedraggled lemming, up what was labelled on the Pete Bland Race Map a route that was “quickest but brutal”, cutting a corner off the climb that in hindsight might have been preferred under the circumstances.

I managed to catch a few lads towards the top of the Mellbreak and the final marshal point and I could smell the finish. Skipping through heather moorland searching for a contouring path around the prominent end of Mellbreak North. Hitting a narrow, undulating and nicely runnable track through a handful of fields, past the Kirkstile Inn and delicious looking pints, and a final sting in the tail back up the road to the finish line, where I was greeted by a bowl of chilli and as much cake as I could eat.

Historical fell races like these are a really important part of running history in the UK. The barrier for entry is admittedly quite high as physical ability goes hand in hand with the knowledge of navigation. But if you can face the climbs, it’s certainly worth the effort, after you’ve finished and gathered your thoughts, at least. And yes I went back to the Kirkstile Inn, just to check if the pints were as delicious as they looked (they were). You can take the brewer out of Sheffield but you can’t stop him doing important “quality control”.

48 runners completed the “Short Course” and 91 the full Horseshoe.

The “Short Course” race was won by Thomas Corrigan (Barlick Fell Runners) in 02:36:39 and Karen Parker (Border Liners Orienteering Club) in 03:06:01


Strider’s result (“Short Course”) :

Pos Name Category Time
27th Jim Rangeley MSEN 03:33:00



Full Results :



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