Race Report - Yorkshire Three Peaks Fell Race - Iain Donnelly - 2015
The Y3P is a 24 mile Fell race over Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough (+700m) Peaks. The first recorded traverse was in 1887 and the first actual race in 1954 (6 starters, 3 finishers). I love a race with history it adds to the intrigue! Having not run any Fell races this was to be an explosion of the senses. The best description l can give of Fell running is "an intense variation on trail running with concentration at a premium". The Y3P in particular needed full attention to the limestone terrain as it was incredibly slippy, two race participants were to unfortunately suffer through broken wrist/ankle.
My arrival in Yorkshire the day before the race to survey the route was to no avail as mist reduced visibility to 100 metres. This hindrance coupled with the forecasted snow heightened my apprehension considerably.
XMiles expertise in nutrition confirmed my chosen pre, during and post race hydration and supplements were ideal for the endurance. Products such as NUUN, Beet It and Chia Charge are just a few items l have used on XMiles recommendation.
Race day itself arrived, after the compulsory kit check (map, compass, full body cover etc) the Race Director highlighted the weather as a concern and the various checkpoints would be used to stop the race is necessary. 10 minutes later the gun went off and 1000 runners were charging through the start heading into oblivion (mist). One of the comforting things once the pace has settled into any given race is the companionship and camaraderie between runners. Whilst we compete we also support each other, this was highly valued especially in the Y3P run whether you had run it before or not.
Peak 1, Pen-Y-Ghent followed by the longish trek (8 miles) over toward Whernside (Peak 2) proved to be reasonably comfortable. This Fell racing wasn't so bad after all! The mist had cleared briefly and the awesome views were inspiring, at the same time the improved visibility showed us the real challenge was still ahead of us. Fortune changed quickly...
Peak 2, Whernside ascent began after wading through the River Ribble, heavy shoes up the 700m mountain to freezing snow ahead, ouch! The checkpoint at the top was no place to be hanging around, fingers and toes were numb and clothing was damp. Descending was a game of patience on the limestone, light footwork and good pacing was at a premium. WOW, this was what it's all about the adrenaline outweighed the pain... character building stuff!
Somehow in my preparation l had missed the rather crucial detail that there was a cut off at the next checkpoint. Anyone over 3hr 30min was put on the "Bus of Shame" back to HQ, l passed through the checkpoint in 3hr 29min 12sec. Perhaps stopping to take so many selfies hadn't been such a good idea. My legion of fans (just my wife, Jan) who was tracking the race was livid to discover l had stopped for photos nearly missing the cut off.
Peak 3, Ingleborough the final peak has a brutal ascent, the steps were built for giants. At the top 4 heavily waterproofed Yorkshire race marshals (listening to football on t'radio) informed us "only 5 relentless miles" to get back to Horton for a pint. Thanks marshal! The snow was coming in sideways at this point... superb stuff.
The Finish, by heck that was easy (not)... 5hr 14min, 661st out of 1000 (702 finishers).
To highlight the serious class of the Y3P field l normally average around top 15% in a normal race.
The 5 hour drive home gave me ample time to wax lyrical over the days experiences. Running most of it with reduced visibility and snow made the Peaks feel even more formidable. The marshals on top of Ingleborough and yes the pint at the end made for a race l felt privileged to experience.
Since 2015, Y3P l have run the Scafell Pike marathon and the Glencoe marathon, both superb events. In 2016 l plan to run the Yorkshire Three Peaks Fell Race again, hope to see you there!