Yorkshire Three Peaks race

Posted by Sam Harrison on May 18, 2014 at 00:22.

 Fell running

fell race fell running ingleborough pen-y-ghent three peaks whernside yorkshire dales

I'm a little behind on blog posts, this one is from three weeks ago!

I was reassured to hear Bowland fast-man Richard Mellon saying his quads were still aching after the Teenager on the start line to the Three Peaks: It had been a week since the 16-mile / 7600-foot Lake District race, and up until Thursday I had been seriously worried that I wouldn't be in any fit state to start the Three Peaks. Fortunately a gentle jog on Wednesday evening sorted my legs out a bit and by Saturday there was only a dull ache left from the previous weekend.

It's the third time I've put myself through the 24-mile / 4500-foot race and it doesn't get any easier. I once heard it described as a being akin to a "road marathon with three mountains thrown in", and I think that description is pretty apt: It's the fast pace you've got to keep going between the hills that's the real killer.

It had been raining all morning but, as if by miracle, the rain stopped and the sun started making an appearance as we set of en-masse, all 1000 of us, from Horton-in-Ribblesdale. I took it steady up Pen-y-Ghent but found myself already 3 minutes up on my time from 2012 when I reached the top. Lorna had positioned herself along the Pennie Way to get some photos on the way up and down Pen-y-Ghent, and there were a fair few Bowland faces out and about en-route as well. Spurred on by the support, I let go a bit on the descent and by half-way across "the slog" to Ribblehead I knew I was either going to break the 4 hour barrier or hit the wall spectacularly.

Still all smiles on the descent of Pen-y-Ghent!

The fast pace continued on the road section to Ribblehead and I was glad to be using different leg muscles climbing the direct ascent to Whernside. I was 8 minutes up by this point, but my legs were giving me warning signs already, reminiscent of 2011 when I hit the wall big-style on the descent of Ingleborough. Hmm, that 4 hour barrier doesn't look quite so achievable now.

I continued passing those worse off than me on the descent of Whernside, but on the first few steps of ascent the other side of the Old Hill Inn, I knew that any hopes of sub-4 hours was out of the window. I struggled to hold onto my position on the ascent, and the final steep section was the hardest it's ever been. I arrived at the summit of Ingleborough 10 minutes up and knew if I could keep a vague run up on the descent then I'd beat my PB of 4:23:04.

I'd been here before and I was fully aware how much the 4+ miles from the summit could drag on. And drag they did! All that was in my mind was getting to the finish, not having to run any more. It seemed so far away. Unsurprisingly, the 10 minute lead had withered away to 6.5 by the time I got there, but I didn't care, I was finished!

Bowland had a fair few at the race, and I came home 3rd place in the club. Richard Mellon, who claimed 3rd place at the previous week's Teenager race. came in an impressive 18th position (3:21:50). The Saloman International Team took first and second places, with Ricky Lightfoot securing his victory after a super-speedy descent of Ingleborough.

Not so smiley at the finish!
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