The 60th running of the iconic Three Peaks Mountain fell race took place on Saturday out of Horton in Ribblesdale. A huge field of over seven hundred runners converged upon the picturesque village for what is widely considered to be the blue ribbon event of the fell running calendar.
The gruelling 24 miles/5276ft course picks off Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and then Ingleborough in sequence before an arduous, interminable six mile descent back over unforgiving limestone pavement back into Horton. Fantastic crowds were on hand to cheer off the runners as early rain gave way to clear skies, and a star studded field swept up the stony path toward Pen-y-Ghent.
The race unfolded into a dual between previous winner Tom Owens and the marvellously named Ricky Lightfoot with the Salomon sponsored international runner Lightfoot claiming the eventual victory in an eye-watering time of 2hrs:53:16. Bingley’s Victoria Wilkinson claimed victory in the women’s race with sparkling run of 3:21:32 giving her 17th place overall.
Calder Valley are always well represented at this race with the men claiming a superb 2nd place overall in the team event. Karl Gray, although perhaps not firing on all cylinders this year, once again scooped the coveted men’s’ V40 prize for his 9th place, with Alex Whittem again having a storming run round the course to claim a brilliant 12th place. Kevin Hoult (36th) and Graeme Brown (53rd) were the other counters.
As well as the delightful scenery and majestic railway viaduct, the race can also take you too some dark, abyssal places psychologically, none more so than the near vertical crawl up Whernside, which for most runners is just about the last thing they need after 12 miles of unrelenting running. No amount of Lucozade, sports gels or Jelly Babies can stave off the fatigue-laden delirium your average club runner experiences near the summit. No better illustration was the great scrap between Calder’s Steve Grimley, Jim Mosley and Bert Ingram. The trio swapped places umpteen times throughout the race, but arrived at the Whernside summit in befuddled unison, with Grimley eventually taking the spoils with a splendid climb up Ingleborough, which created an unassailable lead for his rapid descent back home to Horton.
There were heroics in the ladies race where Calder skipper Helen Buchan took an acrobatic tumble coming down of Ingleborough, launching herself into the air and injuring her knee and collar bone on landing. In a sporting reversal of last year’s fortunes, her running mate Kate Mansell who had similar strife last year, assisted her all the way back to the finish, with the dynamic duo crossing the line in just over five hours.
Fancy a go yourself? Calder Valley encourage you to come and join their ‘Back to the Fells’ series of fun runs which start again on Tuesday from Mytholmroyd Community Centre. Visit www.cvfr.co.uk for more information