Race date: Saturday 27 April 2019
Race report by Ben Clithero
It was an another early start to drive up to Horton In Ribblesdale for the 65th Three Peaks Race. This is a 24 mile race with about 5500ft of ascent which takes place on the classic walking route up Pen Y Ghent, Whernside and finally Ingleborough.
The race started at 10.30am. I collected Louis and Matt and we were to join Dan and Alasdair up there. I’m usually always up for a photograph as I’m racing, unfortunately this time it was in the form of a speed camera flashing me on the way through Bradford. It could only get better from there…
We got to Horton, parked up and got registered. I had a fantastic brainwave to leave the key inside the petrol cap for people to be able to get their stuff out if I wasn’t back – genius right?!!
I locked the car and placed the key in the cap and closed the petrol cap door. I just thought I’d check to see that it opened okay but to no avail. Matt then pointed out that the petrol cap locks with the central locking system and therefore I had locked the key inside.
It was too late to do anything at that point as we had to start the race.
A long winding track up to Pen Y Ghent is the easiest climb of the day, it loops around the summit and you can see the elite runners flying past on their way back down the same track. The sections in between are pretty runnable and you can get into a better rhythm before the climb up to Whernside. This is not the way the walk has taken me in the past. Instead it cuts through a tunnel under the rail lines and up a steep climb to the top. When I reached the top I was greeted by Dan who was limping and had had to retire from the race.
I thought he must have fallen as we had been warned that the decent off Whernside was particularly dangerous. Dan had not fallen but had possibly done some ligament damage. Still, it got him the fastest descent of the day as he hitched a lift in an air ambulance!
The weather forecast for the day had been bad – strong winds, cold and heavy rain for most of the day – but to be fair it was only bad on the tops and I think we were really quite fortunate. Off Whernside we were being marshalled over to the walls edge to keep a safer line as somebody had fallen quite badly earlier and nobody wanted a repeat performance.
Ingleborough is the last climb of the day – a gnarly, rocky staircase which starts to become a bit of a scramble due to the steep gradient. Relieved and tired at reaching the plateau it is then that you can see that you are nowhere near the top and must continue further on upwards. The decent is another dangerous one with runners coming up and down on the same rocky area.
That’s the real hard work done and now you just have about five miles of trail, fields and mud on a fairly flat landscape back to the start at Horton In Ribblesdale.
Absolutely knackered, now all I had to do was break into my petrol cap. Amazing what you can do with a bottle top and a stick! It was touch and go whether Dan would be able to drive home and we had offered for one of us to drive his car back, but when we got back to the field and saw that Dan was driving a Citroen Picasso, we quickly changed our minds!
A tough but great race with some good company.
Louis and Alasdair ran superbly as always and I’m sure Dan would have been around these two somewhere if he hadn’t been injured.
Matt and I finished later on.
The race was won by Brennan Townshend (Keswick AC) on his first attempt. He finished in in 2:50:22, one of only three runners to break the 3 hour mark. The women’s race was again won by Victoria Wilkinson (Bingley Harriers) in 3:20:01, more than 20 minutes ahead of the second placed lady and 26th overall. This was her fifth 3 Peaks win and fourth in a row.
There were 670 finishers from 752 starters. 82 competitors (over 10% of the field) didn’t complete the race, either through retirement or missing the checkpoint cut off times.