3 peaks Fell Race Report by PCD 29/04/17
This is the original 3 peaks..none of this jumping on a yacht or driving fast between the 3 highest peaks of GB. No, this is the Yorkshire 3 Peaks where for several years many of the best names in British and even International Fell Running have fancied their chances and pit their witts against the elements and a tough course.
Often, weather conditions make it tougher again. This year, it was pretty dry under foot (driest winter for 20 years, but you all knew that as runners without the need of a Weatherman. You don’t need a Weatherman to know the way the wind blows. A disabling profession if ever there was one.)
The weather was also dry and cool on the day..perfect for a returning Gary Pearson and a newbie, PCD. C’est Moi.
The run involves almost 24 miles of 3 peaks…Pen y Ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough. 1600m of ascent. Described as 3 fell runs interspersed with 3 Cross Country runs. But a fair chunk of road too.
The PYG ascent involves the returning leaders running past the rest of the field, and it was at quite a pace I saw these guys travel. We had updates over loudspeakers on how the race was going and who was in the lead.
A long run between PYG and Whernside was divided by a psychological halfway point (ie not sure if it was really halfway in terms of effort but certainly in time) at Ribblehead..the viaduct that carries the once threatened Settle-Carlisle railway line. As we toiled up the side of Whernside, a steam train came into view, taking runners minds off the wet steep hillside for all of 20 seconds. It was here I managed to catch up on Gary. It was a short lived meeting. I saw him again at the checkpoint at Hill Inn just before the final hill, Ingleborough. My fortunes remained relatively the same. I had made quite a few places steadily and would make a few more. But as David Coleman once said, Gary opened his legs and showed.. his experience. He made up about 100 places over the next hill before the finish line which was a long steady descent away over the clints and grykes of the limestone pavement. I fell over twice keeping on the heels of a fellow competitor who was on a pace far faster than I should have run. Yet I knew it would pull my tired legs off the hill, so I stuck with it.
I’m not going to mention the embarrassingly fast winners time, but Gary was around 4hrs 23, I was 10 minutes slower. I was about mid-field, which I was happy with.I had done a recce of the route 31 years ago with a girlfriend but I’m not sure it helped. I just remembered 3 big hills, no trees, drystone walls and sheep.