Still no word of Gordon R… hope you finished all right.
But seriously now, the Three Peaks race, Sunday 28th April 2002, was a strenuous day out in less than ideal conditions, and a busy day for the St Johns Ambulance folk. I had dashed straight into the first aid tent at the finish (only to avoid the kit check you understand – no hat being a disqualifying offence), and I can heartily recommend it as a return to the womb. No sooner was I in the door than I was coddled and reclining in blankets, fed sweet tea, massaged, informed that my temperature was only 35 degrees, amused by watching other fragged runners taking oxygen and grinning as stupidly as I was, told my shoulder wasn’t actually broken but would hurt like hell for days (true)…. but then how indescribably horrific to have to leave that heated haven, emerging into the rainy gales again.
The first couple of hours were great – easy running up Pen y Ghent (35 mins) with Gordon, undulating descent to Ribblehead (about 1hr30), then across the river as the weather got really nasty, through the bogs and climbing fast up Whernside. I put my foot in a hole and didn’t know whether I could go on for a few minutes, but my ankle found its strength again and I kept overtaking people as the gale and hail got stronger as we came down Whernside with Ingleborough looking really black and bad ahead. And it was. Really really very bad as you climb gently and relentlessly on a silly little duckboard walk, and I was walking, and a Carnethy lady went past (to win), and the bloke with the big ginger hair from Tring AC. Then the vertical ascent, and I was passed by one of those Steptoe lookalikes from Lancashire. Then delicious descent, and after passing Steptoe I was just starting to remember how to run again, when I took an enormous flier, 30 feet or more I reckon, landing on my shoulder, and really wanted to sit there and blub. Struggled on over the slippy limestone pavements and slime and slippy stiles, finished, first aid tent.
24 miles, 4,500 foot ascent. I think I did about 3hr52 (forgot to stop my watch). Winner Simon Booth, Borrowdale. The bloke in the 120 pound diving suit is just arriving at the first checkpoint as I write.
PS perhaps my legs were compromised by a glorious Westies victory in the Black Mountains Roundabout the previous weekend? This 25 mile 6,500 footer was a bit short on serious competition, as even after missing the start by 5 mins and stopping for a midpoint cup of tea with Naomi, I won by 35 minutes!