So Saturday 28th April was The Three Peaks fell Race.This was my main Spring target after deciding not to race a Spring marathon.
Now i wished i had signed up to a nice flat road 26.2 miles!
The Three Peaks for those not aware is billed as ‘The Marathon with Mountains’ it takes in the Yorkshire peaks of Pen Y Ghent ,Whernside and Ingleborough. Although it’s only 23 miles it does have 5000ft of climb or ten Blackpool towers!
On arrival you see just how slick the Three peaks is, I collected my number and had my gear checked in double quick time! All runners need to carry full FRA kit as minimum,(Waterproof top and trousers,hat,gloves,map ,compass and emergency food) all of which i carried in my trusty ultimate direction Peter Bakwin Pack.
A few of my friends and teammates also ran and the usual nervous chit chit was in full flow but before i knew it it was time for the off!
The Start line
Now to say i was nervous at the off was an understatement,The race has strict cutoffs in three different locations and better fell runners than me have been timed out in the past so my game plan for the first half was to run a fine line between not getting timed out and not blowing up by setting off too fast.
I needn’t of worried about setting off too fast,the race was BUSY! i was forced to nothing more than a walk up the first climb (pen y ghent) Partly due to the numbers and partly due to my starting point midpack.
The queue up PYG
As i reached the top i began to panic that i wouldn’t hit the first cut off so decided to gun it down the descent,five steps later i slipped on my arse and decided to slip back into a more leisurely pace!
Between PYG and Whernside is a lovely stretch of 10k or so mainly flat trails.A few team mates had warned me not to go off like a rabbit here otherwise i wouldn’t make it round
“the race doesn’t start till Whernside”
is something i heard many many times on the run up to the race.
Hitting the first Checkpoint 25 mins up a little bit of relief spread over and i continued on the next CP at the impressive Ribblehead viaduct
A drink refill (you get your own drinks transported to two checkpoints on the race) , and it was off to Whernside.
Now i don’t mind telling you Whernside hurt, a lot! the climb is not the same as the tourist path as we go straight up the side and getting to the top i was on all fours willing myself to the summit and screaming at myself in my head for missing all those hill sessions! The descent was ok, a fair few runners dislike the whernside descent due to the paving flags but as it was a dry day they caused no issues for me at all. Apart from my screaming quads that is!
From Whernside you hit the last Checkpoint you can be timed out at which is hill inn. I shouldn’t of been so worried about Timing out as much as i arrived here 33 mins up of the cut off, maybe if i had set off a little quicker i may of blown up, who knows?
The final climb Ingleborough has a lovely nickname at my club ‘ingleb#stard’ and it lives up to it spectacularly . While almost as steep as Whernside it didn’t feel half as bad but crikey the steps towards the summit are a killer. When i finally approached the summit and some decent running ground my legs simply had forgot how to move!
So that was the three peaks right?
Wrong , after summiting Ingleborough you still have 3.5 miles to get to the finish but it was mostly down hill and decent tracks.
A road runners dream , ie moi.
As soon as i hit the tracks i felt recharged and took 36 places in those last 3 miles ( I still finished 306th but im taking it).
I was greeted by my wife with about 200m to go which is always a boost and managed a sprint finish to the line, finishing in 4:19:51.
A little down on my rather optimistic time of 4.10 but i now know the course and can attack it properly next year (although i doubt we will ever have a lovelier day than today!).