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Yorkshire Three Peaks Race

25/04/2015

Saturday April 25 saw the 61st edition of the Yorkshire Three Peaks Race. This is an iconic fell race which covers 23.5 miles and ascends over 5000 feet over the three summits of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Dumfries Running Club's Jo Zakrzewski took to the start line with over 1000 other runners...

Unfortunately, after the recent spell of good weather, the weekend came with conditions that could be described as "testing" at best, but Jo felt that the wind and rain just added to the adventure. It also made the compulsory kit lighter to carry as she didn't take her waterproofs off from start to finish.

Runners start under the finishing gantry, and run across a field to the main road through Horton in Ribblesdale. A short section along this road allows the pack to spread out just enough to ease congestion as they turn off onto the rough track that leads up to the first summit. There is a short section on the hill where runners are travelling both up and down, so Jo was looking forward to spotting the leading men flying downhill as she toiled uphill, but unfortunately (!) she started off at too fast a pace for them to have rejoined the trail, and reached the summit herself in under 36 minutes. The visibility was limited to about 10m, but that was enough time to spot the electronic dibbers, if not work out your position in the field.

Next came a steep descent, which Jo has never found to be her strongpoint, so she prepared herself for many runners to come hurtling past her, though she did then make up ground and move back past a few of them when the gradient eased off. Having hoped to finish not too far outside the top 10, Jo was amazed to be announced into the Ribblehead checkpoint at 6th lady, but figured the rain must have affected her hearing. Before the steep ascent of Whernside began (which involved using your hands to haul yourself up the climb), there was a river to ford, a gate to hurdle and 100m of bog to cross, which again seemed to add to the competitors' general entertainment.

Again, it was impossible to see the summit, but luckily the high viz jackets of the marshals stood out in the clag. Having passed many people on the ascent, Jo then traded places with them again on the descent and so was still in 6th place at the next checkpoint. However, she was still feeling strong and so pushed on to reach the final "top" as 4th lady. Not being able to see the descent meant that she didn't psyche herself out too much and tried to put as much distance into the others before she was overtaken again.

Unfortunately for Jo, the race ended with a rather long downhill section with technical rocky/muddy patches as she would have preferred another ascent since nobody seemed to pass her on the climbs. However she was pleased to cross the line in 5th position in 3hrs 44 mins, and delighted to have acheived her own pre-race target time of sub 4 hours..

The race was won by Ricky Lightfoot and Helen Bonsor.

Jo.

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