Sunday, 1 September 2013

Shelf Moor Fell race 2013

I wasn't sure if I was going to do this race. It's a Glossopdale race, so I helped out as much as I could, but there were so many people helping out on the day, marshalling, number taking and generally floating around, I didn't really have much of an excuse not to run.

In hindsight, doing 30k around and about Kinder (the second best hill in the Peak district) on the day before, followed by going out and flagging the race route with a couple of clubmates, - followed by Lynnes Birthday party until only goodness knows when - might not have been the best preparation for the race.

Ah, the anarchy of fell racing - some runners starting,
other runners playing with watches, others chatting,
it's all part of the fun. 
It was a toss up between heading out on a long bike ride, or doing the race. As distance is inverse to intensity, I decided to go for the intensity, and paid my money. Which, at £4, is really good value.

After helping out on registration I ran to the start, chatting with a couple of Pennine runners- it was one of their Champs races, so there was a good turn out of the red, yellow and black vests. Glossopdale had a relatively good showing, even with a decent amount of us out and about on the course, marshalling.
Charlie - the race organiser had a quick word at the beginning, ensuring that everyone knew not to get lost, and also to report into the end if they retired.

The wind was on our backs as we raced out along Doctors Gate toward the beginning of the climb. Legs were feeling a little heavy, and the leaders were stretching out far and away ahead of us, but I was comfortably tucked in the midst somewhere, Chris off in front, Julien somewhere between us, and a whole load of Pennine way off ahead. We came into single file around into Doctors gate proper, just before the climb up onto James's Thorn.

A lot of the guys, who were a lot faster than me on the first section started walking very abruptly once they hit the hill. James's Thorn is a climb well known to me, and I tend to follow a plan - the main problem being that during this time of year there is one trod that goes up- a wonderful racing line, but if you want to overtake anyone, you really need to step it up a gear, because it means running uphill, faster than the guy in front of you through shin deep grass instead of a nice clear track. But that's what you've got to do.

So I pulled out to the left, picked up my feet and passed a good number of people, dropped back onto the track, regained some breath as I walked behind another guy, and then out to the right, powering up behind Julien. If I can keep this up, I'll be happy.
Matt Dawson was out in full force and volume, shouting from the sidelines on the hill, exhorting us to greater speeds, Chris was still powering away up the hill, and as the gradient steepened, Julien and I came up behind another couple of runners that were struggling for breath and had gone too hard already. He went left, I went right. Steep enough for hands and feet, and I fell back into step behind him as we crested the steepest part.
Ahead of us, Chris was walking - but had sneaked a look behind, saw we were coming, and he got stuck in again. The rest of the climb was a general hard hard climb to the top with Julien ecking out a few metres on me.
Past the Lancaster wreck with Beryl marshalling, and exhorting me to catch Jules, I stepped up through the top and relaxed a little through the undulating moor, trying not to lose too much more distance on those in front of me, while trying to clear the pain from my aching legs. The next up is the last up of the race before a fabulous run across the Moor proper. Up to Lower shelf stones with someone breathing down my neck, and on across to get to the trig point.

StevieK was already 100metres past the trig as I still had 100 to go to get to it, he's obviously running well. Coming down onto the final part to the trig I managed to catch a foot, tripped, and rolled, coming back up without losing a place. Across to the trig, around and, a surprise - Rich White was there, shouting out positions, I think he said I was somewhere around 15th to 17th or so, but can't actually remember.
Quiz: which one of Juliens shoes got stuck?
And then onto the best part of the course, off the beaten track, onto the moorland. Bouncy underfoot and a place where you can really stretch out.
I pulled up to and overtook a couple of runners that were a good length ahead of me, and then halfway across the moor was Julien, sitting on the ground, trying to put his shoe back on, having lost it in a large amount of peat, and had to dig it out before attempting to put it back on again - full of peat and with a super tight knot in the laces. Shame, I was looking forward to a decent battle with him on the way down - but with 2 others now behind me, and another just in front, I certainly wasn't going to stop and wait for him.

Across the stream, and decent running on the peat down to Dog rock, overtaking another runner on the rough ground, who then took back his place as we passed Gordon, marshalling just beyond the rock.
The wind was really in our faces as we started the beginning of the descent. 4 of us, very close together. That means a place anywhere from 10th to 15th or so, depending on exactly where we were in the race at that point. All to race for then.
Over the stile, and onto slightly rougher ground again, once more, I caught a foot, and went flying, a bit more seriously than before, hitting a rock with my hand, bruising it in a couple of places. The other 2 runners passed me as I was on the floor- wow we really were close together!
I picked myself up, assuring them as they zoomed off that I was alright, and continued on down the hill, a little more circumspectly. The other 3 were now a goodly distance in front of me, and I was happy to let them go at that point, as all we had left was the descent off Lightside, and then the sprint along the Bridleway.

There seemed to be a real battle between them as they got to the stile to Lightside, and they were about 30 metres ahead going over the stile. I took it nice and easy, but then on the descent, the Buxton runner closest to me looked like he was easing up a bit - oh, I might get that place back... that might work.
I didn't count on the fact that Matt Dawson would have changed positions, and would be halfway down the hill shouting at me - Come On! You can gain 3 places here, Get On With It!

The Buxton guy went over on his ankle shortly afterward, and I gained and shot past him, still a Pennine chap and another Buxton runner in front- a good 10 and 20 metres away. When you think you're going as hard as you dare, and so are they, thats quite a distance.

Through the gate and onto the track. The final 500. Internal dialogue begins.

Do I hold off just behind the Pennine guy and overtake him right at the end, leaving the Buxton lad to beat me? Do I gamble and overtake them both - but maybe not have enough energy to hold them off at the end? When do I really start winding it up? Or shall I just cruise in at this speed? Can I actually go any faster? How will I feel in an hours time if I don't actually try and overtake these two- will I be disappointed that I could have done better? Agh - I've blackmailed myself into going for it. Time to stride out.

I gained on the Pennine guy, and passed him with about 300 to go, expecting a burst from him, I kept my
Giving it some wellie at the end. 
stride up, breathing starting to get ragged, and he fell away behind, all of a sudden, it was just the Buxton guy in front- and maybe a single corner left, an acceleration, maybe 100 to go and I passed him. Breathing really hard now, not sure if I can actually hold out, especially if he has held anything back at all. Legs burning, lungs on fire, focused on the finish and come in 11th, in 49:45 or so.

Pretty good for having done about 25miles yesterday.

Congratulations to Rob Little of DPFR for coming
in first. (someone actually beat him, but was DQed for not carrying any kit whatsoever), well done to DPFR for winning the mens team prize, to Caity of GDH for winning the Lady's trophy, and Glossopdale for winning the womens team.  - a closely fought battle with Pennine.
Rob with his new trophy

Caity adding to her silverware collection

Pennine and Glossopdale Ladies teams. 

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