Tag Archives: 3-Peaks

A Good Year

2009 ended up being another good year.

Many new experiences with the Marathon des Sables still long in the future, but in the end the new experiences were so much more than just ‘make-weights’ on the journey back to Morocco.

February – 3 peaks

John always goes to walk the 3 peaks in Yorkshire on the last weekend in February with friends. A long standing tradition of his and this year I joined him on his tour of Whernside, Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough. No running involved at this stage, but a good practice out in the elements, 24 miles with a good 2000m ascent on the circuit.

March – Reading Half PB

As part of my training for London, I normally add a half marathon or two to test myself, but it had been some years since I had done Reading. John a I were optimistic after a good few long but fast training sessions and eventually we both ended up with personal best times

April/May – London Disappointment

After the exuberance of my half marathon PB I was struck again by a mystery injury to my foot which took a period of settling down and rest to recover from. My disappointment at missing yet another Marathon through injury, especially after my training had seemed to be going so well was hard to bear, with 5 weeks where I had to limit my mileage to less than 15 miles.

June – Welsh 3000s

On the longest day of the year Greg, John, Tim and myself made our way across to Snowdon for a little ‘hill training’ – Eldir Fawrunfortunately the beautiful evening journey turned into a shocking morning, demonstrating vividly how mountainous regions can have their own micro-climate which bears no resemblance to surrounding lowlands.  We traversed only 3-4 of the 14 hills of the Welsh 3000 but were all circumspect about the experience prior to Mont Blanc.

July – Classic Cliffs

Things started to get serious in July after another solo attempt on the Welsh 3000s where I scaled Crib Goch in the fog and then the midnight start at the end of July of the 57 mile Classic Cliffs – a trail race along the south-west coast path from Port Isaac in Cornwall to Clovelly in North Devon.  The race was fantastic practice for the UTMB with the nighttime start and ascents and descents along exposed coastal trails.

August – Mont-Blanc

Finally, the crowning glory of my running year, completion of the Mont Blanc.  The race was an incredible experience,Lac Combal - A new day dawning my first at that distance and although I swore never to do it again at the time, it seems a bit like a hangover where oncethe physical effects have worn off, the addiction and desire to experience the event again is just too great an opportunity to miss out on…. while there is still breath left in my body, etc, etc 🙂

Ever since then, albeit only 4 months ago (it seems like a lifetime) I have been in a strange holding pattern with my training, regularly completing 40 mile weeks, I am now looking at 5 events from February to August, including a (fingers crossed) third London Marathon and a hopeful PB.

2010 is shaping up to be quite exciting as well but with the Marathon des Sable in April 2011 to prepare for remaining injury free is becoming as priority as I test out all manner of methods of blister prevention.


A new Slant on training

John , Tim and Greg had for some weeks planned to go up to visit the Yorkshire Dales to do the 3 peaks hike, but it was only at the last minute that I decided to take the time out to do this.

And so it was Friday that we set off and after a 6 hour journey, with David, John’s Brother, and a stop off in Nottingham to pick up Rob, John’s nephew, that we arrived in Horton-in-Ribblesdale at the southern-most populated edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

We met up with Mike, Martin and another David, John’s friends of old who have done this trek on an annual basis with him for some years, and after debating whether to get up late for a full cooked breakfast or set off early the next morning, turned in for some rest.
Unfortunately, the ‘start early’ crew had won the first round and so we set off, with Greg who had joined us, just after 6:45am.
The weather was ominously overcast as we started up Pen-y-ghent, although with no wind or rain at the bottom of the mountain, we were optimistic of a dry day.
The first climb pushed some of the guys hard and as they didn’t want to hold the others back, we split into two groups with John falling back to navigate for his brother, nephew and Martin. The rest of us pushed on and we reached the top at just after 8:00am. The wind at the top was chilling and the inevitable cloud had surrounded us halfway up, so the views were nothing to write home aboRibblehead Viaductut! Two minutes later we were making our way back down again for the long haul to Whernside.

The next 7 km was punctuated mainly with slipping and sliding along the variety of terrain, mostly heather covered peat bog and limestone deposits, with the odd lost shoe which had to be extracated from the mud, before continuing.

Nevertheless, we made reasonable time to 14km and the temporary respite of a road surface for about the next 3km to the majesty of the Ribblehead Viaduct at 17km. Passing straight on to the side of this victorian engineering masterpiece, we started the slow ascent of Whernside which was to last another 6km, 50% of this distance again being shrouded in mist after about 1000ft, on our way up to the 2300ft peak. The Top of Whernside was even more exposed, windy and cold, a fact laid testament to by the deep patches of drift snow from several weeks previous which still laid on the sheltered side of the peak.

Descending the other side of our second peak was a race to try to keep ahead of a youth group but our reward was a welcome flask of warm, sweet tea and packed sandwiches back down under 1000ft, although by this stage the rain had followed us down and we decided not to stick around for too long.
Ingleborough - Peak III
We started out along farm tracks and within 2-3 km we were across what appeared to be a busy main road, given that we saw at least 3 cars on it, before turning off towards our final peak, Ingleborough. With two peaks down, I had the bit between my teeth and got into a good rythmn on the way up the thick slate slabs, duck boards and stone steps in place to assist intrepid explorers on their way up or down.

The by now expected mist did it’s normal thing and the wind at the top of the flat top ‘peak’ was as harsh as on any of the others. We had to wait for Mike and David at the top and unfortunately, the exersion of the ascent had meant getting up a sweat which with the wind chill was now becoming uncomfortable, so when the others arrived they offered us the map so that we could carry on down for the 7km descent to the village.

Mike and David arrived about 30 minutes after we had returned, but John’s party had the biggest adventure, not getting back to the pub until 8:30pm after getting disoriented on the top of Ingleborough in the dark and although with torches, the four of them had to inch their way down the steep initial descent to arrive back at the ‘main road’ where David picked them up.
In the end it took us 9½ hours to cover around 24miles. Compared to the Mont Blanc Ultra Trail, the distance is about a quarter and the ascent / descent was about a fifth of what we will have to do. Nevertheless, none of us were pushed and had plenty left in reserve and could even have covered the distance in a quicker time with some jogging if necessary.

And yes, the beer at the end tasted good.