Pendle 3 Peaks (English Fell Championship Race) – 20th August 2016 – Debbie Porter

Pendle 3 Peaks (English Fell Championship Race) – 20th August 2016 – Debbie Porter

To say I was nervous about this race would be an understatement. Two attempts to recce, one was not the correct route albeit a lovely sunny morning with friends and the other was one Thursday evening in the clag, mist, wind and rain when we didn’t visit all the checkpoints. With daylight fading the safest option was to get off the fell and hope conditions would be better on race day.

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Race day weather forecast was heavy showers and windy. The two things I hate the most when running. I don’t mind one or the other but both is horrible as we all know too well.

The ladies race started at 11.00am with the men starting at 11.15am. I started at the back and stayed at the back. We set off with a climb as you do on a fell race! The route was flagged to the first checkpoint onto Spence Moor. As I passed the marshal he said ‘now it gets boggy, enjoy’! Keeping the wall to my left, the terrain was very wet and boggy as expected. It was difficult to keep running whilst following the trod down to the wall corner to checkpoint two.

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The first men started to pass me. Despite me staying to the left and keeping the path clear for them I was elbowed and shoved out of the way a few times, a very competitive lot.

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The route then crossed Howcroft Brook to climb Mearley Moor, the first of the big three climbs to checkpoint three although according to my strava, there were four big climbs! Barry had caught me at this point, looking very comfortable so I knew the others would not be too far behind. John and then Gareth passed me soon after, they too were looking to be having a good, strong race. Conditions were bearable for the first four miles and then the weather changed. It got very windy with heavy showers which felt like hailstone. I managed to stay upright on the next long descent only to slip and fall on reaching the bottom. There were really was some spectacular tumbles and slides. Dropping down to checkpoint four at Mearley Clough about five miles into the race, Ben caught me up, we dibbed and off we went on another climb through the stones to the Scout Cairn at checkpoint five. It was difficult to run in a straight line whilst being buffeted by the wind.

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Following the path North East to a stile in the wall and continuing along the ridge before descending to checkpoint six. While descending, I cushioned the fall of a runner who had tripped, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We turned to face the ‘Big End’, an intimidating very steep climb which seemed to go on, and on, and on. Rob joined us just as we reached the top so we all ran to touch the trig at checkpoint seven, dibbed and set off straight away not wanting to hang around.

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At last, it was all downhill to checkpoint eight and then the route was flagged to the finish. It seemed a long half mile on the tarmac, legs feeling very heavy at this point just wanting to finish. I saw someone with a camera, it was Ian who had come to give support and see us all finish. Thanks very much Ian.

At the finish, I felt like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards. I was relieved to finish without getting lost which is probably hard to do with so many runners being in sight most, if not all of the time. It really was quite an adventure and so pleased I ran this race. It was great to have Ben’s company and humour for the last 4.5 miles.

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There were 600 runners on the entry list. 229 men and 77 ladies started the race. Two retired in both.

I was hoping for under 2.5 hours and just managed it with a time of 2hr 29min 47seconds.

Thanks to Gareth, Barry, John, Ben and Rob for your support and motivational words on the day.

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