Winner Brennan Townshend. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Winner Brennan Townshend. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Runner Brennan Townshend took victory in the Three Peaks Race, finishing just nine minutes outside the course record.

The Keswick Athletics Club member, the 2018 Skyrunning champion and former professional road-racing cyclist, drew level with leader Billy Cartwright on Whernside and finally overtook him on the ascent to Ingleborough, the final fell in the race.

Townshend arrived at the finish in Horton in Ribblesdale in a time of 2hrs 55mins 34secs, three minutes ahead of Cartwright, with past winner Ricky Lightfoot in third place in 3hrs 51secs.

Sarah McCormack starts her descent from Ingleborough. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Sarah McCormack starts her descent from Ingleborough. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Saturday’s win was the second Three Peaks victory for Townshend, who has worked as an endurance coach for seven years.

Sarah McCormack took the women’s trophy, finishing in 3hrs 23mins 21secs, 14 minutes outside the record set by Victoria Wilkinson in 2017. She said she was inspired to enter the race after watching the Bingley Harrier beat the record five years ago.

The inov-8 ambassador, of Ambleside Athletic Club, who has represented Ireland numerous times, won the mountain-running world cup in 2019. She is an ecologist and running coach. Originally a shorter-distance runner, she has been entering longer races in the past year or two to become comfortable with running for three to four hours. She finished the Three Peaks in 16th place overall.

Billy Cartwright, took second place. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Billy Cartwright, took second place. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Second female was Sharon Taylor, 42, of Helm Hill Runners, Kendal, in 3hrs 30mins 40secs. She joined Bingley Harriers at the aged of 12 and ran her first fell race when she was 16. Third-placed Nichola Jackson, 29, another inov-8 ambassador who was second in the English championships in 2019, finished in 3hrs 31mins 56secs. She ran the Three Peaks in 2018 in 3hrs 26mins.

Though the £500 bonus for new male and female records went unclaimed, two runners did pick up a CSH Transport prize of £100 for the quickest ascent to the 694m summit of Pen-y-ghent, with Cartwright and McCormack pocketing the extra cash.

Victoria Thompson, eighth fastest woman, who finished 56th overall, makes the final push to Ingleborough's summit. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Victoria Thompson, eighth fastest woman, who finished 56th overall, makes the final push to Ingleborough's summit. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Three Peaks Race, which accepts up to 1,000 entries, had 600 this year with 447 starters on the day. Covid-19 uncertainty, and the clash with the English championships race at Guisborough in North Yorkshire, were blamed for holding numbers down. Saturday’s event was the 67th time the event has been held.

The oldest finisher was Jim Maxfield, 72, of Newburgh Nomads, Skelmersdale, who was 381st out of the 416 finishers, in 5hrs 28mins 7secs.

The first over-40 veteran winner was Andy Symonds who was sixth overall in a time of 3hrs 4mins 20secs. He now lives in France and his father Hugh won the race in 1984, 1985 and 1987 with a best time of 2hrs 49mins 13secs. Symonds’s brother Joe also won in 2012 and 2013, but failed to beat his father’s best time.

Ross Bibby suffered a serious leg laceration while competing in the race in October 2021 and the Cave Rescue Organisation recovered him from Ingleborough summit in an operation lasting more than three hours. He was back competing on Saturday to raise funds for CRO in appreciation of their mountain rescue work. He completed the course in 3hrs 43mins 34secs in 38th place.

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