John Hewitt Memorial Shelf Moor Fell Race 2023 report by Russell Stevenson

Race date: 23 September 2023

Race distance: 6 mile

Race report by Russell Stevenson

Race 10 of 12 in the 2023 Striders Fell Race Championships and a Saturday morning trip over The Snake Pass to Glossop for this 6 mile / 9.6km category AS race, with 457 metres of ascent to think about.

The Shelf Moor Fell race is part of this year’s English Fell Racing Championships, thus attracting runners in a variety of club vests, you know you’re in bother on the fells when Keswick Athletic Club are about.

One of the appeals of fell racing for me is that you’re always discovering somewhere new outdoors. Having passed through Glossop a multitude of times in the past, battling through to Manchester, I’ve never taken in “Old Glossop” on the north / east side of town with its beautiful stone buildings and peaceful appearance, a reason to return in future.

Full FRA kit checks were carried out prior to race registration irrespective of the kind weather forecast for the day ahead. Had there been any significant rain in the days prior to this race or during then it would have made for an entirely different animal, certainly underfoot anyway. The ladies were off at 11am with the blokes following at 12.30.

Having studied the contours of the course map prior to the race it appeared to offer an opportunity for a quick start and as the fast boys positioned themselves for the off, I nestled myself in towards the front of the pack (whilst feeling a little out of place) just to gain some sort of advantage.

The route undertook 4 definitive “sections” the first being a flattish 2 km along a stone track with some slight undulation offering an advantageous start to the race if you could get ahead.

The second section was a leg burner with ascent up to James’s Thorn (572 metres) and a twist along to the summit of the course on Shelf Moor / Higher Shelf Stones (671 metres) offering only a couple of flat patches for respite, with the Snake Pass summit in view to the right. Runners turned back on themselves after dabbing in to record arrival at the midway check point. A brief chance to take in the views with central Manchester in the far distance.

Then followed a tricky and in places boggy slog across some soft peaty moorland. Thinly cut paths and tracks amongst the heather required concentration, this bit was tough going but I felt like I was making reasonable progress before taking a tumble, uttering selective expletives, then limping on a few yards before getting back into the pace.

The final section was a quick descent down a grassy hillside and back to the flat stone track where the race had started. A chance to stride out for several hundred metres on jelly legs to the finish.

The Ladies course record was broken on the day by Phillipa Williams coming in at 46:28 breaking the previous 47:17 record set back in 1986. The men’s race was won by Joe Steward of Salford Harriers & AC in 40:34.

I really enjoyed this event and the surroundings with its “name the pig contest”, decent beer by Distant Hills Brewery and live music. Home in time for final score.

Striders results: ladies

P Name Cat Time
17 Abbie Pearse WSEN 54m 15s
89 Laura Rangeley WSEN 1:31:26

Striders results: men

P Name Cat Time
128 Andrew Mansfield M40 59m 2s
145 Seth Kirby MSEN 1:01:02
154 Russell Stevenson M50 1:03:39
157 Jim Rangeley MSEN 1:04:11
165 Ian Stinson M50 1:05:15
186 Al Cook M50 1:08:39
190 Matt Broadhead M40 1:09:05

Full results:

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