Three Peaks Fell Race

Dubbed the 'Marathon with Mountains', the Three Peaks Race is one of the oldest and most famous fell races in Britain. Participants must climb the well known Yorkshire Three Peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

The route comprises 37.4 kilometres of unforgiving terrain with 1608 metres of ascent and descent The race starts and finishes in the town of Horton-on-Ribblesdale.

  • Horton Train Station

    Horton Train Station

    Coming off the short train ride from Settle into Horton. It is a then a short walk to the playing fields where registration took place.

  • Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

    Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

    Gathering at the start of the race; the weather was gloomy but fair. The clouds were a portend of what was to come, however.

  • Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

    Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

    The race briefing takes place. The mention of the dreaded cutoff times undoubtedly sticks in the minds of many present.

  • Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

    Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

  • Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

    Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

    Gathering at the start of the race; the weather was gloomy but fair.

  • Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

    Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

  • Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

    Start of the Three Peaks Fell Race

    Waiting to start with Pen-y-ghent in the background.

  • On the track to Pen-y-ghent

    On the track to Pen-y-ghent

  • On the track to Pen-y-ghent

    On the track to Pen-y-ghent

  • On the track to Pen-y-ghent

    On the track to Pen-y-ghent

    Mist covers the summit of Pen-y-ghent.

  • On the track to Pen-y-ghent

    On the track to Pen-y-ghent

  • On the track to Pen-y-ghent

    On the track to Pen-y-ghent

    The climbing starts to get a bit steeper on the way to Pen-y-ghent.

  • Ascent of Pen-y-ghent

    Ascent of Pen-y-ghent

    The leaders start to come past those of us the back; a stark juxtaposition of the two types of 'race' taking place. By the end the leaders will have finished in half the time of those bringing up the rear.

  • Ascent of Pen-y-ghent

    Ascent of Pen-y-ghent

    A view back to Horton.

  • Ascent of Pen-y-ghent

    Ascent of Pen-y-ghent

    The summit comes into view as it kisses the mist.

  • Ascent of Pen-y-ghent

    Ascent of Pen-y-ghent

    Visibility starts to worsen as the climbing steepens out.

  • Ascent of Pen-y-ghent

    Ascent of Pen-y-ghent

    Nearing the summit and the first checkpoint.

  • Towards Ribblehead

    Towards Ribblehead

    After the descent from Pen-y-ghent it's on towards Ribblehead.

  • Towards Ribblehead

    Towards Ribblehead

  • Towards Ribblehead

    Towards Ribblehead

    This is the longest runnable section of the race. One can use many strategies to keep oneself in check. For me, it was making sure to stay aerobic by keeping an eye on my heart rate.

  • Towards Ribblehead

    Towards Ribblehead

    Towards Ribblehead; passing through High Birkwith.

  • Towards Ribblehead

    Towards Ribblehead

  • At Ribblehead

    At Ribblehead

    The Ribblehead Viaduct comes into view as runners file into another checkpoint.

  • At Ribblehead

    At Ribblehead

    This is the first of two points where runners can obtain their drinks and fuel that were transported from the start. I picked up some water and a snack after a frantic search: it had been flung on the floor from its designated bucket.

  • Ribblehead Viaduct

    Ribblehead Viaduct

    For walkers, this is usually the area where one stops and takes in the view but there is no time to waste.

  • Past Ribblehead

    Past Ribblehead

  • Winterscales Beck

    Winterscales Beck

    A short crossing of Winterscales Beck.

  • Ascent of Whernside

    Ascent of Whernside

    The ascent of Whernside starts

  • Ascent of Whernside

    Ascent of Whernside

  • Ascent of Whernside

    Ascent of Whernside

    A bit of bog to trundle through going up.

  • Ascent of Whernside

    Ascent of Whernside

    This was the most torturous section of the race for me. I am a weak climber and the race route croses private land not accessible to the public. Therefore, we simply went straight up, whreas, a regular ascent for the public would be a much easier, gradual climb on well established paths.

  • Ascent of Whernside

    Ascent of Whernside

    The ascent steeps to near vertical.

  • Passing the Old Hill Inn

    Passing the Old Hill Inn

    A small interval of relaxation after passing the checkpoint post Whernside descent. At 3 hours and 30 minutes, this is where the race ends for many. The long descent was an anxious one for me. The descent from Whernside was fun; I enjoy running downhill and I was largely on autopilot but then when I reached the bottom it was all about balancing trying to make the cutoff with still ensuring I had enough left in the tank to complete the race afterwards.

  • Onto Ingleborough

    Onto Ingleborough

    Spoiler alert: I made the cutoff with just over three minutes to spare.

  • Towards Ingleborough

    Towards Ingleborough

    After a short respite, it's straight into the ascent of Ingleborough

  • On towards Ingleborough

    On towards Ingleborough

  • On towards Ingleborough

    On towards Ingleborough

    On a good day these stones might aid walkers and hikers but they were the most tricky part of the race due to their slippery nature.

  • Stepping stones towards Ingleborough

    Stepping stones towards Ingleborough

  • Ascent of Ingleborough

    Ascent of Ingleborough

    The mist continues to come down from the peaks

  • Ascent of Ingleborough

    Ascent of Ingleborough

    It's single file and climbing one stone at a time. Getting up Ingleborough wasn't any easier than Whernside.

  • Ascent of Ingleborough

    Ascent of Ingleborough

    Am I looking up or down?

  • Nearing the peak of Ingleborough

    Nearing the peak of Ingleborough

  • Final push towards Ingleborough

    Final push towards Ingleborough

    White tape directs you towards the checkpoint.

  • The final descent begins

    The final descent begins

    After turning around at the checkpoint it's finally 'all downhill from here'.

  • At the finish

    At the finish

    The final hour of the race - the descent from Ingleborough - was a mix of technical terrain and just putting one foot in front of the other. I managed to keep up a constant output but my legs could not generate power for more than one gear.

  • Live music at the finish

    Live music at the finish

    Live music serenades the finishers while we enjoy a hot meal. I entered this race over two years before it happened but the journey towards it arguably started in April of 2019 when I completed the Manx Mountain Marathon, one of the races I used as a qualifer for entry. My motivations and values have changed significantly since then resulting in fundamental changes to my core physical and mental health practices. The Three Peaks Fell Race can therefore be said to be a firm and definite *end* to this this one particular chapter of my life.

Section Summary

Section Duration (HH:MM:SS) Distance VAM (Vm/h) Avg Pace (min/km) Max Pace Avg HR Max HR Avg Gradient (%)
Pen-y-ghent ascent 00:47:45 5.52 579 08:39 05:28 158 166 9.16
Pen-y-ghent to Ribblehead 01:13:43 12.25 -325 06:00 02:48 160 169 -3.00
Whernside 00:57:09 4.09 442 13:58 04:11 155 161 9.00
Whernside to Philpin Lane 00:29:25 4.22 -887 06:58 03:23 156 165 -12.52
Ingleborough ascent 00:55:20 4.02 478 13:46 06:03 151 156 9.73
Ingleborough to Finish 00:51:58 7.70 -568 06:45 05:17 152 158 -8.14

Race Summary

Duration (HH:MM:SS) Distance (km) Avg Pace (min/km) Avg HR Max HR Avg %Max HR
05:15:20 37.8 08:20 156 169 81.99
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