The Yorkshire Three Peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernshide and Ingleborough, form the basis of many events, whose total distance covers approximately 25 miles. Five of us ran the Heart Research challenge last year and had such a fantastic experience, that we decided to run it again this year – with five additional runners and three walkers (with one runner from last year unavailable).
A poor weather forecast ensured we prepared for nasty conditions for the duration but, by the time we had pitched our tent the preceding night, we had seen nothing of the thunderstorms, gales, rain and fog that had been mentioned. That is until we went to bed – when the heavens opened.
Four hours later and we were woken by our neighbours, but it was time to start getting ready ourselves. And, by 5am, we were on the move. A road closure, a wrong turn and an extensive diversion meant the journey took nearly 2 hours – this was significant because it meant we would have less preparation time and would have to negotiate hundreds of walkers throughout the first 10 miles.
Pen-y-Ghent was wet and windy and visibility was less than 5m in places, but we made it to the top. And off it again, just. Once visibility improved, as we descended, we barrelled down at a tremendous speed until we hit boggy marshes and started treading water, literally. A number of our party fell over, others were in bogs up to their waists and DS lost his trainer. At this point, we stood there laughing while he reached for it as it continued to sink – until his socks weren’t visible and his arm was submerged as far as his armpit. Well, it was funny. Although, to be fair, he wasn’t the only one who lost his shoe.
Whernside was next and fortunately the weather was improving (although visibility was still poor), but that didn’t make the ascent any easier. In fact, as we started descending, GH requested some painkillers before disclosing (some 10 minutes later) that she has twisted, or possibly broken, her ankle – as far back as Pen-Y-Ghent, some 10 miles previous. Furthermore, the ankle was the size of a tennis ball and it was almost three miles to the next checkpoint – where first aid would be available. I have since been informed that the damage is only a sprain, but she was unable to continue.
We stopped for an obligatory brunch at the café en route to Ingleborough, before continuing our journey. Ingleborough’s climb is immense, albeit brief, and it was hard work to the top but, by this stage the skies were clearing, the temperature was increasing and we were drying out, so we made it safely. The final run home seemed somewhat easier than the previous couple of hours and the ‘runners’ finished in about 6 and a half hours [I am still waiting for clarification of the actual running time], followed by the walkers a couple of hours later.
All in all, this was a superb experience once more, and shows some of the reasons that I love running*. Just try convincing me that this isn’t good fun. I challenge you.
*The only negative aspect of this event can be discovered here.