Race Date: Saturday 30th April 2015
The Three Peaks Race is one of the highlights of the fell and mountain running calendar. First run 61 years ago, it attracts the very best fell runners, as well as hundreds of others for the 37.4km (23.2 miles) and 1608m (5276ft) ascent over Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. This year saw 802 starters, 701 of whom finished.
The race begins in Horton in Ribblesdale with the steady climb towards Pen y Ghent, where as the route steepened we saw the leaders flying down the hill. The summit came quickly enough, and is followed by a long stretch – a good few km – along a well made path towards Ribblehead, which is reached following a 1km stretch on the road. Ribblehead is the first of two major check points – lots of supporters, personal drinks taken there by the organisers, time to regroup for the ascent of Whernside. The Three Peaks walking route follows the viaduct and railway, and then ascends the hill’s north ridge. The race route dips under the viaduct, fords the river, crosses a boggy stretch then takes a very direct and steep line to the summit.
The descent to the Hill Inn is mostly fast, with some pretty steep and treacherous sections, and lots of walkers to dodge round. The Hill Inn is the second major check point (apart from the summits that is), and marks the start of the final ascent, a long gradual climb that then rears up steeply with some easy scrambling to reach Ingleborough’s summit plateau of shattered rock. The third peak completed, the long run home begins – four or five miles, fast if you’ve got the legs for it.
Three Striders were among 802 starters for this years race, which was won by Ricky Lightfoot who runs for Salomon’s international team, in 2:51:42 and Helen Bonsor of Carnethy in 3:27:24. Two Striders finished: Steve Frazer, M, in 213th place, 4:01:35, and Andy Buck, MV50, in 455th place, 4:35:05. The third Strider, Michael Slater pulled out between the second and third peak, having run for 3:30:41, 41 seconds over the pretty unforgiving cut off time. The performance of the day though was surely 516th placed Kieran Carr of Clayton le Moor Harriers, who, in 4:44:18, broke the MV70 – yes, 70 years or over – age record.
It would be great to see other Striders have a crack at this terrific race.
Note: The official race report also makes for interesting reading – esp the bit about Dave Scott, aged 72, who completed the race for the 48th time! Check it out from the Three Peaks Race website.
Full result available from the Sport Ident website