A meek three peaks – John Bateson is downhearted

Sunday, 30th April, my third run of the twenty odd mile Three Peaks of Yorkshire fell race, and it goes down as my poorest. Not my slowest, but really very bad, all the same.

It’s potentially a fun race – lots of up and down, and one of these days I must make an effort to go back and run it steadily on my own and really enjoy it. Anyone in the area should run or walk it given half the chance.

Leaving Horton-in-Ribblesdale there’s a bit of an out-and-back up Pen y Ghent. Interestingly, one guess at the meaning of this name is Hill/Head of the Winds, and on this day it was living up to its name, blowing a gale. This is the easiest of the three hills but almost everyone tries to conserve energy for the challenges to come. It’s a fairly short and hectic descent where one or two come a cropper (at the finish line there’s always plenty of blood injuries on display).

On the way down my thigh seized up a bit, which didn’t bode well. I always struggle to decide how much to run in the week before a longer run, and in this case opted for very little (two 20 minute jogs). Consequently my body seemed to have forgotten how to run.

There follows a longish, flatish section, mainly off-road, before we reach Whernside, which is the highest of the three by a few meters (736m), and the hardest climb thanks to the ridiculously direct route that’s chosen. Another hellish descent, another longish section (that passes depressingly near a pub) and the last peak, Ingleborough. By this stage keeping moving feels tough for most. Coming down off the top is hard, as are the miles back to the start/finish field.

As for my weak showing, I have a variety of minor excuses, none of which made any difference at all. Only one matters; something like “wishful thinking isn’t training”. I should have it tattooed somewhere prominent (but I can’t afford/tolerate that many letters – anything catchier? Please not ‘just do it’.) Basically, to run long you need to train long. Is there anyone who doesn’t know this, apart from me?

On the bright side, they had made it a qualifier for the England team, so vegan superstar Helen Fines was there, running in her CalderValley vest. Looking at the results, she must have made the national squad again, as second placed female in 3.34 and a little bit. [Update – yes she has. Congratulations Helen!]

For anyone wanting to see how to run this race, take a look at Helen’s splits: Fines

And for an example of how not to, take a look at mine: Bateson

It was really windy, but sunny, which meant I got sunburned shoulders but also got a laugh at each hill-top checkpoint where the race officials were dressed like North Sea trawlermen in winter. My wife Alisha came along to offer support and got a picture of my leg (damned smartphones) which I won’t post.

My final result: 233rd. The time doesn’t really matter.