Three Peaks 2013

Anonymous's picture

Lorraine, Kim, Nick, Bob and I all lined up to the start of the 59th Three Peaks race. With a brisk wind, it was quite a chilly start, requiring slightly more than just a vest (even for Bob!) but at least no rain and only a few clouds.

It was certainly a new feel for me to the start of the race, with some obviously very fit and well respected athletes lining up: Joe Symonds, Ian Holmes and Rob Jebb to name but a few. Not having a clue what to expect when the race started I set myself a couple of rows back from the front, a pretty nice relaxed atmosphere though and more familiar faces than expected which always helps. David Beech was next to me (he came second at the Pinchinthorpe race) and peers from other local clubs such as Dave Smith, Ian Harmer and Shelli Gordon all turned out. Keen to get on with it, I was glad when the start was called. The first 30 or so were off like a shot – close to a 10k race start not 24 miles! It did not take much to hold myself back; still struggling to get my speed back after a rather frustrating month of bugs, I wanted to settle into things before getting too carried away.

Sitting in about the first 50-60 runners, the climb up to Pen-y-Ghent felt longer and steeper than I remembered on the reccey. There seemed to be a lot of jostling about and people running into small gaps ahead of you, then frustratingly slowing down, making it hard to get into a decent rhythm. Though I was grateful when the steep stuff started, I felt disappointed with how heavy my legs were so early on, people started passing me and I didn’t really have much of an answer for it, so just tried to focus on what I was doing and running efficiently.

The top soon came around; the change of rhythm was a welcome relief from the 3 miles of uphill! Now I would find out how the downhill legs felt!  As expected most of the runners around me were pretty nippy too; there wasn’t too much of a panic to get past people with such a long way to go, and I wanted to use the opportunity to wake myself up and get my legs stretched out. Despite holding back, I managed to get past quite a few on the way down, though I was very aware of the long 8 mile undulating drag between Pen-y-Ghent and Ribblehead coming up.

Martin and Rosie were waiting just after the bottom of Penny, which was a very welcome relief. I decided to slow right down and use the opportunity to grab a drink and some food to carry along. Though not really feeling hungry, I knew eating all the time was key and not doing so could have dissastrull consequences. After some great encouragement from Martin I cracked on. By now I think I had dropped off another 15 spots and my mind set was a bit better, more along the lines of “just run how you feel comfortable and screw everyone else”.

By the time I got to the road before Ribblehead viaduct about 10 miles in, things started to pick up and I was now gradually passing people who may have started a little too quickly. I felt the legs lightening and the rhythm coming in, though frustrated with the poor start. I tried to cut that out of my mind and focus on the idea that the race did not start until the bottom of Whernside. The Viaduct soon came around, with a lot of spectators, sounds of loudspeakers and encouragement from strangers. My Mum was waiting there with a bag of supplies – it was great to see her and I felt bad for not staying and chatting!

Now off to Whernside, which looming dauntingly in the distance, more like a giant wall of rock. I don’t think we saw the top on our reccey, or at least I had forgotten how big it was! Unlike Pen-y-Ghent which you were straight into on a decent track, this had no tracks just soft spongy grass and energy zapping heather. It is pretty hard to describe how hard, intimidating and just damn long Whernside is but imagine climbing straight up the side of Levisham moor and then doing it again another 6 or 7 times without being able to see the top!

Though I underestimated this, I had by now started to wake up a bit, catching up with people who had sauntered past me going up Pen-y-Ghent - now we were talking!   After the hands on knees technique became inadequate it was time for going on hands and toes – and still it went on! Legs well and truly gone to jelly, I didn’t feel like I could go much slower.  Eventually the top came. This was definitely the most welcome part so far, with a nice gradual 200m stretch of downhill before the steep descent back down, just time to get the legs going again. We were soon flying down and though it was too steep and rocky to let it go completely I was starting to enjoy myself, bounding down towards Hill Inn, probably a bit faster than I should have done, but buzzing after passing so many on Whernside.

Hill Inn soon came around; I was now starting to get dehydrated so knew getting a good drink and some more food was worth stopping for a minute. Pink water bottles are ace! I found mine straight away, took what I needed and gave the rest to a guy who could not find his. By now it had become less of a race with the people you were with, and camaraderie between runners and spectators alike stepped up another level. Lots of Jelly babies were getting handed out – I like Jelly Babies…

Now off towards Ingleborough. My legs were pretty tired now and starting to feel the effects of Whernside. I spent the next couple of miles trying to get recharged and not lose any places. I was aware of the splits I needed for a sub 3.30 – and knew I was close. I hadn’t focused on this too much until now, knowing I had been slow to start with I didn’t want to get demoralized or hung up on this, just run how you feel. Now though I knew I was back on track, I just needed to trust that the legs had the mileage in them and would get me up Ingleborough. I think I dropped a couple of places on the way up to the start of the steep ascent, however once the real climb started I very quickly adopted the hands and toes technique, coming off the rocky zigzag path and heading up the most direct line possible. This seemed to work well for me, and again I took a few more places. This technique was quite a welcome break from running too, though I was fighting the temptation to just lie down!

With lots of encouragement from spectators and supporters, the steep part faded into a rocky run/walk section opening out into the summit (2370ft). This really is like a lunar, rocky, barren landscape: it certainly feels as though you have climbed onto the moon! With no real track to find, it is pretty treacherous, but quite FLAT. Through the last check point now, at around 2hours 52 min, leaving 38 minutes to do 5 miles, 7.30 m/miles, well should be do-able, just need to get off the steep rocky part. I was surprised to drop another three people here, was now feeling pretty good though and soon got into bounding down the steep section. My legs were feeling stronger, but the constant concentration needed was starting to take its toll. Mike Hetherton was hanging around here with his camera, and it was great to see him. There was a quick “Is everything alright?” to which I replied, “Yes thanks”, and off I went!

Now it got a bit emotional from here! First I was trying to work out how fast I needed to go to get under 3.30, and didn’t really want to lose any positions (yes, the racing part had come back into it now!) With all this going on, I stubbed my toe and tripped, flat onto my hands and knees. It wasn’t too bad I thought, though annoying for my hand to be fully covered in mud. The descent started to exaggerate a couple of blisters and, hmm, my big toe nail was on its way off too. Without realizing I hadn’t eaten properly since just after Hill Inn either – a good 5 miles ago, then my ankle (despite being taped up from trashing it the week before at Guisborough moors) decided to go; boy did it make a good popping noise! This seriously scared the crap out of me; I thought it must be broken – damn damn. Now reduced to a hobble and a lot of swearing, I kept moving, hoping it would ease off. It’s amazing how the body keeps you going and after a couple of minutes I was back to running, though feeling a touch delicate. The shock had drained the spring out of me, after such a long and rocky descent, all the niggles and blisters were firing too.  Only three miles left though and still in with a chance for a sub 3.30, with quite a big gap behind and in front of me. These last three miles were fairly dull and lonely, certainly the toughest. I kept the pressure on myself not to lose any more places so pushed on, thinking only about maintaining some sort of form and rhythm: this was all I really had left now, get it done, don’t stop.

All the silly suffering seemed to disappear in the last ¼ mile. There were lots of spectators and friendly people now offering very genuine encouragement. Keeping the arms pumping, I knew I had a good gap behind me so wanted to enjoy this bit. The route went through someone’s garden and down their driveway – then out onto the road where my sister, brother in-law, niece, nephew and loads of other random supporters were waiting with amazingly loud cheers and even a banner! Mint! Then down pushing on into the field and across some sort of finish line – shaking to try and get my tag into the checkpoint - 25th 3hour 27 min - get in!

The next ten minutes were a bit emotional – though very, very happy – nough said: the sun was even out now.

While all this was going on, three other PRC hardies were also having adventures of their own. I found out that Kim had been going well to Ribblehead, 10 minutes up from her previous time and on for a good time. Lorraine, Nick and Bob had all made it through the cut-off points too, so a brilliant job so far.  Next in was Kim, a huge smile on her face still looking strong to finish bang on 4 hours 30 min and 22 minutes up from last year. She finished 350th after constantly passing people between every check point, making up some 200 places from the top of Pen-y-Ghent – fantastic! She even found time to go for a proper portaloo stop at Hill Inn

Next in was Lorraine, 4 hours 37 min and 403rd with another massive smile. She honestly looked as though she had just done a quick 6 mile jog and could have done it all again! Brilliant time considering she had no idea where she going and what was coming up.

Bob was next, 4 hours 50 min and 492nd, a very strong effort indeed, considering recent illness and minimal amount of training. Bob just grits his teeth and gets on with it: he even managed to keep all his clothes on…

Despite a late night before looking after his son and a stressful week, Nick was looking good up until Ingleborough. Although cramp got to him on the long punishing descent, he pushed on to finish in 5 hours 22 min, 641st a very hard earned and well deserved finish.

So this was the story of my day, though the others all have some brilliant adventures to tell about also, I was surprised to see so many familiar faces there, either taking part or supporting. The friendly feel of the local fell races we know of was certainly not lost in the grandeur of it all, more an enhancement of the buzz and enjoyment experienced in this magnificent sport. A taste for me of fell racing at a very high level and a lot of lessons learned. Definitely recommended to anyone, though be prepared, it is a cheeky one!

Report Type: 
Race Report
Report Date: 
Wed 01 May 2013 (All day)
Associated Event: 
3 Peaks Race


lorraine laycock's picture

3 Peaks

Well done Jason, what an awesome event! I had the very best day with the PRC crew, my heart goes out to Nick who had to grit his teeth for the last 10 miles, he really looked in pain in the massage area. Doing the 3 Peaks has given me the confidence to try a few Lakeland races in the future and my new moto is - it's a hill - get over it'!

Well done to all, a race not to be sniffed at.

Top Report


What a fabulous report.  Not only a good insight into the race but also a look inside the head of a proper athlete.  I'm certainly interested in trying a bigger event - but its not in the plan right now!


Kim.E's picture

Very cheeky!

This was a great day and  it's a race that really gets under your skin. Only 13 to go before I get my special prize!

Well done to everyone. We all did a brilliant job and hopefully we'll have an even bigger crew next year.

I am now thinking though that if I hadn't stopped I would have been under 4.30... Never mind!

Thanks Jayson for an ace report. Excellent punctuation btw :-)