Runners head up Pen-y-ghent in the Three Peaks Race

Runners head up Pen-y-ghent in the Three Peaks Race

Runners in a historic long-distance fell race face battling with snow for the first time in memory.

Organisers of the Three Peaks Race in the Yorkshire Dales said wintry showers have been forecast for the event on Saturday.

Early frost is also likely and snow may still be lying in the gullies on the 37km (23-mile) route, which has 1,609m (5,279ft) of ascent over the summits of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

The lead marshal on Ingleborough, Graham Newby, treasurer of the Three Peaks Race committee, said: “If there is still some snow on the summit for race day it will be a first for me and I have been on Ingleborough summit for every race since 1985.”

The race, which is billed as the marathon with mountains, starts at 10am in Horton-in Ribblesdale, and this year has Salomon as its main sponsor.

The brand has five of its team among an entry field of nearly 1,000.

Salomon team member Joe Symonds, 29, who won last year’s race in a time of 2hrs 55mins 58secs, is returning in a bid to equal the achievement of his father, Hugh Symonds, of Kendal Athletic Club, who won in 1984, 1985 and 1987.

Other potential challenger include Salomon team members Tom Owens, 31, who won the race in 2011, and Ricky Lightfoot, 28, a firefighter from Maryport in Cumbria, who was second in 2009 and fourth last year.

A newcomer to the Three Peaks, which has a current course record of 2hrs 46mins 3secs, is a distinguished fourth member of the Salomon team Tofol Castanyer. The Spaniard is expected to be a runner to watch on Saturday.

Last year Castanyer, 40, won the 100km Courmayeur Champex Chamonix over the Grande Randonnée du Tour du Mont-Blanc – regarded as one of the toughest races in the world. He was also first in the 2012 Spanish Cup and second in the 2012 Chamonix Marathon.

Two runners who impressed in 2012 on their first attempt at the Three Peaks will also start this year’s race. Carl Bell, 30, of Keswick Athletic Club, finished second and Rob Baker, 35, of Dark Peak Fell Runners, was third.

Women to watch include Oihana Kortazar Aranzeta, 28, a Spanish member of the Salomon Team, who is attempting the Three Peaks for the first time. Her recent best long-distance mountain race results include first place in the 2012 K42 race in Patagonia and first in the 2012 three-day 100 kilometre Cruce de los Andes in Argentina.

Previous winner Rob Jebb will take part

Previous winner Rob Jebb will take part

The race record set by Andy Peace, of Bingley Harriers, has not been beaten since 1996, but he is not entered. Among those flying the Bingley Harriers’ flag is Rob Jebb, 38, who won in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

The Three Peaks has attracted 966 entrants. They include Mark Hinder from Australia, Tomas Mildorf from the Czech Republic, Brian Mullins and Steve Sweeney from the Republic of Ireland and Andoni Arriazu from Spain.

Jean-Marc Lawton, from Stornoway, completed his 21st Three Peaks in 2012. He is writing a history of the race, which had six competitors when it was first run from the Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale in 1954.

The oldest female and male entrants are both members of the race committee. Wendy Dodds, 62, of Clayton-le-Moor Harriers, the joint ladies’ winner in 1983, beat all the male over-60 entrants last year. Bill Wade, of Holmfirth Harriers, was the youngest competitor when he first ran in 1962. When he starts his 47th race he will be 71 years and 11 months.

The youngest are both 19. Craig Boggon, runs for Holmfirth Harriers and Hannah Rhodes-Patterson is unattached.

The race starts in Horton-in-Ribblesdale at 10am with fast runners expected to take around 25 minutes to reach the 694m (2,277ft) summit of Pen-y-ghent. They should be at Ribblehead by 11.20am. Anyone who does not reach Ribblehead by 12.10pm will be eliminated.

The record time from the start to the 736 m (2,415ft) Whernside summit is 1hr 38mins.

Runners who do not reach the checkpoint near the Hill Inn by 13.30pm will be eliminated. Spectators on Ingleborough summit at 723m (2,372ft) can expect to see competitors from around 12.20pm with the winner returning to Horton by 12.50pm

Organisers warned that this year there will be no parking for Three Peaks spectators at the end of Philpin Lane near the Hill Inn.

A spokesperson said: “Spectators should note that the 61-mile Fellsman starts in Ingleton at 9am on Saturday.

“Its competitors may be on Ingleborough and climbing Whernside as Three Peaks runners travel in the opposite direction.”

Last year’s Fellsman was abandoned mid-way through the early hours of Sunday as sub-zero temperatures and strong winds led to many competitors becoming hypothermic.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Pen-y-ghent walker rescued after slip in winter conditions leads to injury
  2. Marc Lauenstein wins wintry Three Peaks Race by nine seconds
  3. Experts warn Snowdon walkers: be prepared for winter conditions
  4. Runner Joe Symonds chases father’s tally with second Three Peaks Race win
  5. ‘Mission accomplished’ as Victoria Wilkinson breaks women’s Three Peaks record