Shining Tor Fell race

Me and Nev, pre-race.

Another Wednesday, another mid-week counter for Glossopdale. This time, over onto the White Peak Map for the Shining Tor race. 5.9 miles, and 1600ft of climbing. 2 uphills and 2 downs, and a right kicker at the end. Not much on its own, but 200yards uphill on a track at the end of that lot, well, it was always going to be an amusing one.

The Glossopdale turnout was, unsurprisingly pretty good, and there were some fast runners in the mix. I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to repeat my effort from last week- 3rd from Glossopdale, but I was going to have a damn good go.

Spot the Blue and Orange tops…

After the hill session on Monday, which was pretty harsh on my legs and Cardiovascular system I didn’t know whether to feel good or not about the race. The midges did though. They were out in force, and at the start, there was a jumping, swatting, cursing mass of about 200 runners just waiting to get going. It was quite a sight to see, but not one that we relished being a part of!

Run away from the midge!

After a very brief speech about the route and comments about the midge, a fairly unceremonious Ready, Go was uttered, and we went as fast away from the midges as we possibly could. Despite being pretty close to the front- maybe four rows back, I still got caught behind about 2 or 3 runners who decided they were going to take it even easier than me right from the off. So I headed around them, and saw a mass of Blue and Orange in the front group, steadily making their way down the road away from me. They were setting quite a pace, and I certainly wasn’t going to try to keep it.

A right into the woods and we were going uphill. I chose a pace, and stuck to it, all the way up. To begin with I was sticking within a group, and then, all of a sudden, people started walking. The ground was still pretty good, but the hill was just going on for longer and longer. I kept on going, and saw John and Julien up ahead. John – I’ve seen once before in a race, but never Julien. Something is very wrong about this.

But I just kept on plugging away, at a relatively decent pace, there goes John, nice work… but have I played my cards too soon? Before I know it, I’ve overtaken Julien, who is walking up the hill. Ah. I think I’ve done it now. Yes, not even 300 metres later, Jules comes bounding past – just as I expected. Well, keep plodding away and see what happens.

The path headed up and out of the wood, across the moor and onto the flagstones. Not my favourite thing to run on, but it had to be done. I followed Julien up the flags, they became less steep and more like an undulating surface toward the top, and he pulled out ahead of me, pretty much as I was expecting, then a short downhill before a minor kicker, and then a long, long downhill which I thought I would love.

By the time we got there, John had gained back on me, but I figured I wouldn’t lose too much time, if any on the descent.
As soon as I started stretching out on the descent, BANG, back came the pain in the diaphragm which I talked about back in the Mount Famine race. No… that can’t be.
The only way to sort this out is to slow down, and so slow down I shall have to, despite the fact we’re only about a third of the way through the race.
So I cut down my stride so that the pain wasn’t so bad, and began losing time to John, first a few metres, then 10, then 20, 2 people overtook me, but there was little enough I could do, as soon as I stretched out, the pain came back so badly that it slowed me down even more.
Right, damage limitation.

Keep going as hard as possible, without the pain coming back, even if I can’t keep up with these guys.
Finally, the end of the (what should have been delightful) descent, through a gate, overtaken by another, and down through the trees, Hairpin right, and I’m losing sight of those in front.
I really hope that the path is well marked.
Through the trees, left, down more, through a river and right, along. I hear more people behind me. Damn, I still hurt, keep it going.
Down some very slippy steps, across a bridge and up more steps, left, and overtaken by 2.
But now its uphill again, and the pain has gone.

So I start making up time on those in front. Just. Keep. On. Moving. Turn right, and I see a Dark Peak vest behind me – I swear its the same guy as I beat last week, up the climb I manage to keep him behind me, and then over the moor, I realise that I can no longer see John in front of me and there are more closing behind me.
I get overtaken by 2 more as we turn left down the path next to the road, and I know there are a couple more as well.

Hell for leather down the hill, remembering the words on Mark Twight’s site- “there is always something more to burn – even if its brain matter” Give it all you’ve got.


I hang on to what I have going down the hill, and a left turn into a wood, just as I hear footsteps behind me. Trust the shoes, it’s loam underfoot now, if anything goes wrong, it’s tree time.
Straight into the wood and dodgy underfoot, but the footsteps get further behind me. Down, drop like a stone, through neck deep ferns and I can’t see my feet, or what they are landing on, another person behind me, we have 500 yards to go now, through a gate, across a green field in front of a dam, legs burning, lungs burning, everything hurting, I know there is the kicker coming up, and I have to keep something in reserve.
I let her overtake me, just coming up to the gate, but she goes to the wrong end of the gate, and I get through first.
Onto the final ascent, and take it easy for 30 metres as we round the corner, then, there it is, 200 yards ahead, the finish, right. What do I have left? There is one person that I can see, he has 30 yards to go.
So I run like it’s going out of fashion, teeth gritted, veins pumping battery acid, legs that feel like they are made of lead, I close in on him, but not in time to get past before the funnel.
Of the people behind me, not a sign.
Thank goodness for uphill finishes.

Enough for 31st out of about 180. I managed an average pace of 4:55 per Km, which isn’t bad given the circumstances.  Without that diaphragm issue, I’m thinking maybe 20th could have been on the cards. However. It didn’t happen.

Well, I had about 40 mins while I ran to try and work out what was going on biomechanically, and I noticed that I was a lot freer in movement on one side than on the other. The spiral line from right leg to left shoulder opened out fine, not a problem, but when I tried to open out left leg to right shoulder, I couldn’t do it.
Psoas major and iliacus, both hip flexors, were tight, and psoas attaches to the Lumbar vertebrae – L1 through L5 bodies and transverse processes. The diaphragm also attaches to the Lumbar vertebrae – and a lot of fascia is common ground between the two muscles.

What I think was happening, was as I was stretching out on the down hills, my legs were stretching away and psoas was too tight, in the end, it was the leg stretching that was pulling the psoas on the Lumbar vertebrae, which in turn was pulling onto the diaphragm, which gave me pain and shortness of breath.
Psoas release and hip flexor stretching is very much on the programme from now on. I’m improving on the uphills, who would have thought it would be the descents that would cause me problems? Well, I think I have worked out what it is, so onward and upward!

Gwyn and his prize. Sorry about the quality… the lens steamed up.

Well done to Gwyn for winning (again!), and congrats to Beryl for her catogory winning run as well. Julien- in a couple of weeks time, the stats are on your side for a few more prizes as well!

In the mean time, here are the stats

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