Monday, 29 April 2013

Peaks weekend.....

Winner Joe Symonds arriving on Ingleborough
The Three peaks race over the Yorkshire hills of Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough is a fell running classic that attracts runners from all over Britain and many from overseas.  It was first run in 1954 when Fred Bagley of Preston Harriers beat a field of just six runners over the 23 miles and 4,500ft ascent in 3 hours 48 mins. From such humble beginnings the race has grown so much in popularity that a limit of 999 entries has now been set. Andy Peace of Bingley Harriers is the current record holder in 2:46:03 with Anna Pichtrova of Czeckoslovakia fastest woman in 3:14:43.  In my brief fell racing career I ran it five times, once in the M55 category when I was beaten by a previous outright winner - George Brass of Clayton-le-Moors - and four times as an M60, winning three of them and beaten in the fourth by Laurie Sullivan of Clayton-le-Moors. My fastest time was 3:50:44 in 1995. Since then I've attended merely as a spectator.
Skylarks were singing in the sunshine as we plodded up Ingleborough on Saturday for this years annual pilgrimage.
5th man Andrew Fallas coming off Ingleborough
It was bitterly cold in a north easterly wind that brought odd flurries of sleet and hail to keep runners cool. I was wearing a long sleeved thermal top, two fleeces, a windproof/waterproof jacket, fleecy buff and woolly hat - and still felt cold! Knowing full well the wind would be gale force on top of Ingleborough we took our time ascending so as to coincide with the arrival of the leading runners. We got it right and found a small cairn to cower behind just as the solitary figure of Joe Symonds (Salomon International Racing team) came into view below us.
1st Lady Jasmin Paris takes the lead after 19 miles
We'd watched him leading the pack of 746 runners from the Start line and by the time he reached us he'd a good five minutes cushion.  He passed the check point and went hurtling down the last five miles to the Finish at Horton in Ribblesdale before any other runners had puffed their way to the summit.  Joe, who'd competed in the Rotterdam marathon two weeks before, completed the 23 miles and 4,500ft of ascent in 2:54:39 with the bearded Carl Bell of Keswick A.C. 5 minutes behind him in 2:59:44.  Karl Grey of Calder Valley Fell Runners was the only other runner to break 3 hours with his 3rd placing in 2:59:50.
Normally we'd hang around on the summit until the
2nd lady - Oihana Kortazar Aranzeta - suspected broken arm...
first ladies passed through but it was far too cold for that on Saturday. We jogged gently back down, all the while keeping our eyes open for the ladies. The classy Spanish runner, Oihana Kortazar Aranzeta of the Salomon International Racing Team had led the ladies race over the first two peaks and up onto Ingleborough but was passed on the final descent by a smiling Jasmin Paris of Carnethy Hill Runners who was clearly enjoying her first visit to Yorkshire for this race. She won in 3:33:04 with Oihana finishing 2nd in 3:36:29.  Oihana was later taken to a local hospital with a suspected broken arm after a fall during the race. Let's hope she's soon recovered and back racing again.
Jasmin's team mates, Helen Bonsor (3:39:07) and Jill Mykura (3:46:20) filled third and fourth places for
Splosh! ...muddy conditions in Sulber Nick
Carnethy. For the first time ever we didn't stay to watch the prize giving. The parking field with its hundreds of cars was beginning to get churned up. After watching one vehicle being towed from the mud we decided it was time to go. Frankly, I was glad to leave for after battling gale force freezing winds over ten miles of the race route I felt totally knackered. And that's almost swearing! It was sheer bliss to sit in a warm car and be driven home.   Results here....
I'd had a busy week. Saturday's 5 mile jog down Ingleborough and a 6 mile circuit round
Running towards the Finish, Penyghent in background....
Appletreewick on Sunday completed a grand total of 30 miles which is the most I've run since goodness knows when. I've felt stronger too. A four mile tempo run on Thursday, using shorter strides with a faster cadence, and an easy five mile run on Friday with lots of 'floaters' went very well indeed without having to walk any of the time. Since abandoning all that fish and salad in my diet I've been topping up with a combined mineral/vitamin supplement to restore my calcium, iron, magnesium and Vitamin C levels which were all sub normal, the former having got seriously low. Common sense tells me that for runners at my end of the age scale, supplements should be the order of the day, regardless of what we eat.  But, as I heard a race commentator say on Saturday, common sense and fell runners seldom seem to go together!     


  1. Did you spot any runners doing the Fellsman? It coincided with the Fellsman this year. A friend took part, he reckoned it was the toughest event he'd ever done - and he's fit!

    1. No, I reckon the Fellsman runners had passed over Ingleborough long before we got there around 12.15. Saw hundreds of cars parked at Threshfield on our drive to Horton so guessed it was the Fellsman. A very popular event....

  2. If I'm not running a race a also still like to go and watch, in fact I ran 18.5km with friends in 2Oceans (56km and half) I ran up and down the road with everyone who came past... But for trail runs it's good to be there taking picture.

    Thank you for the story.

  3. Great report - God Joe Symonds is some man to win it at that pace.

    1. He comes of a great running family. His father, Hugh Symonds, won the 'Peaks' three times in the 80's and holds the record for running all the Scottish Munros in one session. His brother, Andy, is a brilliant long distance Sky Race runner.