Winner Ricky Lightfoot approaches Whernside summit

Winner Ricky Lightfoot approaches Whernside summit

The winner of a gruelling long-distance fell race triumphed after travelling to the Yorkshire Dales after a night shift working as a firefighter.

Cumbrian Ricky Lightfoot took a few hours out of his working life to post an impressive win in the Three Peaks Race, before heading back north to start another shift fighting fires.

The Salomon International Team racer arrived back at Horton in Ribblesdale in a time of 2hrs 51mins 42secs, just over a minute and half faster than his winning time in 2014, despite running in heavy rain, sleet and cold conditions in the race, dubbed the ‘marathon with mountains’.

Second-placed runner Andrew Davies approaches Whernside summit

Second-placed runner Andrew Davies approaches Whernside summit

The 30-year-ol Maryport-based runner apologised to race organisers for not being able to stay for the prize presentation as he had to return to Cumbria for another night’s work.

He claimed a £200 first prize and a Suunto watch in the 61st race, but missed out on a £500 bonus by failing to beat Andy Peace’s record time of 2hrs 46mins 3secs set 19 years ago.

Second place went to Welshman Andrew Davies, of Mercia Fell Running Club, a former semi-professional footballer in the Welsh Premier League, who was World Long Distance Mountain Running Championship silver medallist in 2013.
Davies, who qualified to represent Wales in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year, set a time of 2hrs 53mins 53secs after snapping at the heels of Lightfoot around the 23-mile course over Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, which includes 1,609m (5,279ft) of ascent.

After a relatively dry week, there was heavy overnight rain, which turned to snow as the later runners reached the summits of Whernside and Ingleborough where race marshals, electronic timing kit operators and radio teams were in place for up to six hours.

Lightfoot, who won the International Athletics Union Trail World Championships held in Wales in 2013, reached the summit of Pen-y-ghent in 28mins 11 secs – only seven seconds faster than Davies. There was an 11 seconds gap on Whernside, but Lightfoot stretched his lead to one minute six seconds on Ingleborough.

Last year's joint Fellsman winner Kim Collison makes the ascent to Whernside's summit, this time in the Three Peaks Race

Last year's joint Fellsman winner Kim Collison makes the ascent to Whernside's summit, this time in the Three Peaks Race

Third place was claimed by Andrew Fallas, of Carnethy Hill Running Club, in a time of 2hrs 57mins 51, pushing four-times Three Peaks winner Rob Jebb, of Bingley Harriers, into fourth place. Jebb, 40, who was third last year, finished in 2hrs 59mins 32secs. His time beat Karl Gray’s veterans’ over-40 record by 18 seconds.

Joe Symonds, another Salomon International runner, was returning to the Three Peaks after a year’s absence in the hope of equalling his father, Hugh, of Kendal Athletics Club, who won in 1984, 1985 and 1987. But the paediatrician from Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, the winner in 2012 and 2013, will have to come back another year after finishing in 12th place with a time of 3hrs 9mins 57secs.

A £500 bonus prize was also on offer to a ladies’ race winner who beat the female record of 3hrs 14mins 43secs set by Anna Pichrtova when the Three Peaks hosted the World Mountain Running Challenge in 2008. But it was not claimed as Helen Bonsor, of Carnethy Hill Running Club, finished in 44th place overall in 3hrs 27mins 24secs.
Anna Lupton, of Black Combe Runners, was second female in 3hrs 34mins 46ses, and Caitlin Rice, of Glossopdale Harriers, was third fastest lady in 3hrs 39mins 3secs.

Fastest woman Helen Bonsor, of Carnethy Hill Running Club, who finished in 44th place overall, in the murk and rain on top of Whernside

Fastest woman Helen Bonsor, of Carnethy Hill Running Club, who finished in 44th place overall, in the murk and rain on top of Whernside

A surprise presentation was made to Dave Scott, who completed his 48th Three Peaks in a time of 5hrs 45mins 50secs. The Clayton-le-Moors Harrier, who will be 74 on Tuesday, was the first recipient of a new trophy to be presented annually to the oldest person to finish the race. It was arranged by email by Dave’s daughter Justine, of Denver, Colorado, and will be known as the Dave Scott Trophy.

The prizegiving also saw race director Paul Dennison presented with an inscribed glass tankard to mark his 40 years involvement with the Three Peaks Race. He began as a summit marshal on Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent before marshalling at Ribblehead checkpoint and being promoted to race director 32 years ago.

The race had a maximum entry of 1,000 and 802 runners started. There were 701 finishers.

  • Three runners were helped by rescuers after coming to grief in the race.

The Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation, which provided cover during the race, helped a woman who had fallen and broken her jaw near Birkwith.

Team members also treated a 40-year-old man who tripped while running down Pen-y-ghent, suffering a serious gash to a knee and serious abrasions to both hands and his other knee. He was treated at the scene and helped to a CRO vehicle which took him to the race control, along with another woman who had to retire from the race with cramp.

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