Shelf Moor Race report

Wow. I’m quite fatigued.

Shelf Moor is a locally run race, organised by Glossopdale fellrunners, and presided over by Gordon- and a very well run race it was too. I had a minor role in providing kit checks at the start of the race (random ones, not EVERYONE got checked). The minimum requirement for the race was a windproof top and bottom layer because of an accident that occurred last year, the runner in question cooled down very quickly because of lack of outer wear.
As far as I could see, everyone had taken on board the warnings that anyone without the covering would be DQ’d and I didn’t have to take anyones number down. Which was good.

The race map, elevation profile and kit requirements

Lynne and I got over to the scout hut quite early- considering it was about 500 yards from the house, it wasn’t too much of a chore to get there, where I registered, and helped lug in the massage tables for any poor and ailing runners in the run-up to, and indeed, aftermath of the race. Lynne was going to be doing the hard work of massaging, while I was out doing the “fun” stuff of running up a hill, and then massaging at the end.

Slowly but surely the runners filtered in, with one or two taking advantage of the free Sports Massage (with donations to Glossop Mountain Rescue, of course. The morning was a little overcast, with a minor threat of rain, but nothing more. Lack of safety pins at the start meant I had to raid the stash of pins in the ash tray of the car- stored for a moment such as that! I now have no pins in the car, so need to start amassing them once more.
I wandered up to the start- checking a few peoples kit on the way, and very soon it was time to start. To be honest, I didn’t really feel like I had warmed up properly, and I certainly didn’t finish my stretches to keep the psoas and iliacus/diaphragm pain at bay, but that was my own fault and I hoped it wouldn’t slow me down too much. The field was looking quite strong for this race, as Julien noted. Not only was Jack Ross and Gwyn around, but a team Inov8 runner was also about, and Dave Taylor from DP. This was looking like it might be a fast off. A short speech from Gordon saying thanks to everyone for obeying the kit rules, and without too much ado, we were off.

The beginning of the course is long and flat(ish). It goes along the bridleway up from Mossy Lea and on the way up to doctors gate. One word for it, fast. Before we had gone 300 yrds Simon Bailey, Jack and Gwyn were shooting off into the distance with the rest of us strung out behind like the debris trail of a comet. I kept in contact with Julien up the path, not wanting to burn out too much, knowing the climb that was coming. Having said that, the “flat” bridleway is anything but, providing a nice constant uphill challenge before the race really gets going.
There was a little harrying for places as we went along the path, but it was mostly settled in my bit of the race. It was nice to see some of the other Harriers out marshaling, so I said my hellos as we went through the gates helpfully held open by them. We streamed right, down toward the river, where a small divergence in the path occurs. Julien went high, and I’ve run this route before, following him. This gains us some ground as others drop lower to the river on rockier terrain, and we stay on a good trod. Nice route taking. It gains us precious seconds on the guys who took the lower path. Julien already has his top off- and it is really starting to feel warm and a bit muggy as we jump over a ditch, say hi to Carl as he marshals the bottom of the climb, and turn left up the hill toward James Thorn.

I did this part of the route last week with Matt and Rob when they were up from London and was quite comfortably knocking stuffing out of it as I ran uphill, leaving them for dust. (or mud, really, considering the weather). The beginning of the climb was ok, I managed to stay with Jules as we climbed, he slowed considerably as the gradient got harder, and I figured I’d sit on his heels and hold on, see what happened. To be honest, there isn’t all that much on the hill that isn’t runnable, but as you get higher, the more you just want to stop and walk. At the first steep section, we did just that and walked. One of the guys who we passed by taking the trod stormed up through, and by this time, my legs were starting to feel a bit tired. The gradient flattened out and I managed to start running again without too much trouble, but Julien was beginning to pull away. The hill swung up again, and we were reduced to walking- this is where it started going wrong I think. Just not enough in the legs.

Julien and the other guy began to sneak out of reach, and I had nothing to answer them with. plodding away, I was running, but I’m not sure that anyone would have called it running had they seen it. Up over the spine of the hill, to the stile. Over it (quite beautifully I must hasten to add), and up on to the Lancaster wreck site where Beryl was marshaling. I asked if she had a cup of coffee for me, the reply was no, but she did have a kick up the butt for me instead.

Smiling for 1/200th of a second on James Thorn. After that it was back to the grind. Photo credit to ShaunP. Let me know if you want it removed.

So I trawled on upward. Lactic raging in the legs, and all but wanting to sit down and not move for a month. I know how Matt was feeling last week when he said his calfs hurt and I sniggered a bit. I wasn’t sniggering now, I was gasping for air. The vest comes off and is stuffed down the waistband of the bumbag. now, to the top, and then a slight dip across some peat bog and then again, UP to the trig point.
By this time we are really spaced out, Jules has a massive jump on me and is miles away, there is someone else just up ahead that I am attempting to keep pace with, but other than that, the main concern is the army of heavy breathing runners that appear to be closing in from behind. I stagger off across the top of the hill keeping to the very well flagged course looking at the floor quite a lot as I’m fatigued, and that is the time that I most often kick the floor and end up tumbling- which, although it doesn’t generally hurt, does tend to slow me down.
I follow this runner across and over, can’t remember if I overtook him, I think I did, as I remember coming up to the trig with someone else in front and again, the army of heavy breathers behind. The final ascent to the trig was horrible, and I ended up having to walk again, disappointing, but very necessary and someone overtook me. I noticed he had a pair of X-talon 190s on… lighter and grippier than my roclite 268, so I was a bit concerned that he would be rather handy on the descent. No time to worry about niceties of kit at this stage, I had a pressing need to get more oxygen in my lungs.
We crossed the gap to the trig, with runners going in the opposite direction- its Julien, already passed the trig. That’s the last I’m going to see of him then.
Up to the trig and I hear someone shouting encouragement at me, and at Chris. He must be pretty close behind then. If he hasn’t got me by now, theres no way hes going to get me.

Around the trig point- photo Angrybloke2000

We turn around the trig and its flat across peat bog. I know that this is the high point and everything from here on is downhill, (give or take), and it is very very well flagged as well. Gathering pace as I get my breath back I haul in the guy with the X-talons on. So he isn’t as good on the peat as I suspected he might be. Within a minute I am almost at the point where I’m being held up by him, we are weaving a bit as the trod isn’t just a single defined path, sometimes I make a good decision which brings me closer, sometimes he makes a slightly better one, time to go, and I make the move. Stretching out a bit over the bog, I overtake him, and am a bit concerned that he is going to come back. No such thing. Soon I am off by myself on the peat moors, and apart from the flags and the marshals I might as well be on my own.
Very soon I see just how far ahead of me the next runners are. Crikey- that’s got to be at least, I dunno, 300 metres. Just keep it up. I go over the moor, and it just keeps on going. I know Yellowslacks is in a bit, but am astonished that the trod keeps going. And going. A little bit concerned now as I’m not sure how much energy I have left, I finally see Andy come into view, and the sharp descent into the stream, and back up out again. Now its down to Dog rock and Yellowslacks. Not my favourite bit of running.

There is a lot of sticky up rock and debris all over the place, which makes it not the greatest ground cover for fast running. I keep at it, heart hammering away, and bizarrely enough I see a runner in front of me, he must be tiring. I go slightly faster, but not wanting to burn out, keep it sensible. This is a long section, and as much as you want it to end, it just keeps going. I pass a few walkers, by now I must be a real sight, no top, knackered, feeling a bit ill from the exertion and generally the worse for wear. Sandra is at Dog rock and I’m catching the guy ahead of me, but I’m really concerned about everything that I CAN’T hear behind. Where are they all? Is there someone making a sneak attack? Don’t look back.

Not looking quite so comfy on the descent Photo- Geoff

We go down the hill, me chasing this guy, still a way ahead. He stops to do up a shoe lace, and is up again, 40 yards ahead. Ah, I didn’t need that kind of advantage, I was catching him anyway. Still, it makes it easier. 500 yards later, he’s down again, tying it up, again. I feel like stopping and giving him a head start chance so that I can actually catch him fair and square, but realise that if I did that, I’d get caught by the guys behind me. So I pass him thinking… you really need to tie those up properly this time.

On and on, down and down. Past a couple more people with cameras, over the stile, down, is this guy catching me? I’m really hurting and dreading the final 300 metres down the bridleway. No one in front of me, over the last stile and its down Lightside. I’m getting a stitch and I can’t go as fast as I want. My roclites seemed to be giving me enough grip, but I was bumbling down it like a newbie. Fatigue was beginning to take its toll. I’ve done this hill a few times as a hill rep place, and I always feel like hell when descending- today was no different. Down, through the gate and slam, it closes. I plunge down the path, waiting to hear a report from the gate as someone else comes through. I hear nothing, that’s good.
Second gate- onto the bridleway, Slam. This is the final part, the home stretch, the place where the English Championships were decided last year. I was not going to get overtaken here, despite the over-riding feeling that I really really wanted to walk. No idea who is behind me, or by how far, that’s not an option.

That last 300 metres down the bridleway went on for a lifetime. Legs pumping acid, lungs burning, stitch getting worse by the step, just a case of needing to finish. Last few yards and I “sprint” to the end, coming in at 51:42, 12th place. The next guy was at 52:23, so it was all in my head.
To be honest, at the end, its not a matter of you versus him, its you versus the clock, which is why I never look back. Imagination is more motivating than someone 40 metres up the track.

Finish. Feel sick. Apparently looking quite grey. Handshakes and all that kind of stuff and then a jump down and into the river, following Jules and his dog Brae, soaking the calfs and taking away some of the accumulated metabolic waste. More runners finish, and join us in the river, Jules tells us “not to worry” about the toxic leak just up river… as ever, not entirely sure whether to take him seriously or not. On balance, probably not. Gwyn comes over looks at everyone, then at his brand new shoes which appear to be not the worse for wear despite running over a peat bog, and takes them off before wandering into the river…

After standing around for a while cooling off, I head back to the hut to change into other shoes, and get massaging. There were a few who wanted some cool down treatment, which we were happy to oblige, I even met SBRT a fellow blogger and runner- nice to have met you sir- You’ll have to re-introduce yourself next time though as I was still a little dazed from the run at that point!
Lynne took a few bookings from sore runners, and had a cracking time treating spectators and the like as I was out running.

Treating at the end

Well done to Gwyn for 3rd despite being a bit knackered from training too much. (I know what its like just moving to Glossop… you see hills and go run in them… and then realise you have to race as well), Jules for the V50 prize, and Gwyn, Mark and Jules for the team prize. Always good to get that at your home race.
Thanks to Gordon for the organisation, and to all the Glossopdaleans who were marshaling, and the people who I have nicked photos off. As I mentioned, Lynne was massaging all race and so wasn’t out there with her camera.

What a fantastically knackering race. The fast start, the horrific hill (which I am now going to have to practice), fantastic moor crossing and a fast, potentially slippy descent. Its that last dash for the line that really takes it out of you though. Wow.
It might be amusing to do that race with a descent down Shelf, and an ascent up to Dog rock. That might be fun.
Who’s up for that?!

(oh and if anyone else has any other photos that I can blag, please drop me a line- Chris, I tried to get a generic one of yours off facebook, but I can’t get it…technophobe alert!)
(and apologies for the length, once I start writing I don’t seem to be able to stop)

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