The second fell race in the 2014 English Championships takes place on the summits above Coniston tomorrow. Once again, our athlete Victoria Wilkinson will be the one to beat in the ladies’ race. In her latest blog, Victoria reflects on her superb win at last weekend’s Three Peaks Race when she posted one of the fastest ever times by a woman over the classic 37km course.
To win the Three Peaks Race was always one of my big targets for 2014. It is both iconic and tough in equal measures – a true test of fitness and strength with no hiding places. Plus, me being a Yorkshire girl, it makes it a really special race.
I felt strong going into the event, knowing that since Christmas I had trained specifically with the Three Peaks in mind. I also carried with me the confidence that came from winning the opening English Fell Championships race at Pendle.
I would be lying if I said I hadn’t looked at previous times and records. In truth, I focus a lot of my own expectations and performances around the times and records of previous female race winners. Although the Three Peaks has been adapted over the years – some faster and some slower bits included – the times posted by the likes of Sarah Rowell and Angela Mudge, plus the record of 3:14:43 set by Anna Pichtrova in 2008, gave me a good guide.
My plan was to run sub 3:30, knowing the key to this was getting the pace right from the start. I set my sights on Bingley Harriers’ teammates Andy Jebb and Andy Brown, thinking they would hit the pace I was looking for.
The first bit of the race – going up Pen-y-ghent lane – was the worst section of the entire 37km for me. I just wanted that bit to be over and done with. I found it hard to get the right pace. Once over the summit of Pen-y-ghent I started to settle down a bit and run with good fluency on long section to Ribblehead.
Next came the slog of a climb up Whernside. I took the opportunity to get some fuel in, knowing there was still a long way to go. Cheered on by my parents, I pushed hard up the climb, dropping Andy Brown by the summit.
I lost time on Andy Jebb on the initial part of the descent but then gained it back again on the section to Hill Inn. ‘If only I hadn’t lost it in the first place!’ I thought to myself.
With my inov-8 x-talon 212 shoes feeling fast and grippy, I really put the hammer down on the bit between Hill Inn and the summit of Ingleborough. Bounding over the steps and boards, I felt great. Then on the steep, rocky section I started passing some of the men in front of me (always a nice feeling!)
Three Peaks is one of those races…..when you reach the third and final summit of Ingleborough you kind of think it’s all over. Far from it – there is still seven miles of running to go back to Horton-in-Ribblesdale! Still alongside Andy Jebb, we toiled into the headwind, counting down the miles, until we finally reached the valley bottom again.
I crossed the finish line in a time of 3:21:32, for first place and 17th overall. I was really happy with my time and performance.
Next up is the Coniston Fell Race tomorrow, the second counter in the English Fell Championships. Bring it on!