Organisers of a Lakeland race have altered the course – because of fears competitors will be attacked by buzzards.

The Garburn Trail Race has been shortened by a kilometre to avoid an area where a pair of nesting buzzards with a fierce reputation have made their home. Organisers say the birds have a history of attacking people.

The raptors, in the High Borrans area, are known to be protective of their nest once their chicks hatch. A runner practising in 2001 had to have stitches in a head wound after being swooped upon by one of the birds, which can have a wingspan of up to 1.5m (5ft).

Race organiser Graham Patten said local farmer Boo Johnson had given permission for entrants to cross his land, allowing the course to be altered.

He said: “The last thing we wanted was for the buzzards to be swooping on more than 1,000 runners and we hope this change will help save a scalp or two.”

The race starts at 11.30am on Saturday, in Staveley, on the southern fringe of the Lake District national park, then heads north to Kentmere and over the Garburn Pass.

The race has been dubbed the most scenic in Britain, and winners have the chance to enter the Austrian Grossglockner Berglauf, a renowned mountain race, whose winner will be invited to take part in next year’s Garburn Trail Race.