Now that the dust has settled on the weekend and I am able to walk again without wincing from the significant pain in my sorry feet. The Yorkshire three peaks was certainly a challenge.
I was confident that I could handle the distance, the elevation was going to be “interesting” but I was pretty sure I’d be fine. The only issues I could see would be the weather or more importantly fatigue because we were leaving London @1800 Friday evening and starting the challenge at 02:00 Saturday morning.
We said our goodbyes, got some diesel and hit the road, the M25 didn’t disappoint, accidents, roadworks and the normal ridiculousness from the UK’s longest car park. I won’t bore you with the details of the 8 hours and 30-minute journey, but just to let you know the KFC was so very welcomed!
Right, it’s 02:30 and cold, as the M1 hated us also we were already 30 minutes late meeting the rest of the team. 8 hours before I made the decision to not drive in my running kit, so I throw on my DryRobe and change at the side of the road. I didn’t actually want to take the thing off as it was so nice and warm. Now “ready” I ditch the DryRobe in the back of the Disco and I’m ready. Team vest, team shorts and Compressport shorts and of course my Vibram FiveFingers V-Trails. I was underdressed, to say the least, on with the Camelbak that had my favourite Tailwind Raspberry buzz endurance fuel. We post our names etc through the door of the Horton in Ribblesdale Cafe, this is for safety and so we get official times, head-torch on and we are off.
Did I mention it was cold? I was shivering, but I think that was more from excitement than anything. We set out at around a 22:30 min/mile pace. I was aiming to stay under 23 min/mile pace as this is the pace we need to keep for our 100K race coming up in late July. 45 minutes in, we hit the climb to the summit of Pen-Y-Ghent. We went from 570m to 692m in circa 2 mins. The climb wasn’t difficult but it was dark, cold and the wind was howling. Even at that time in the morning visibility was good and the views of the surrounding area were awesome, we could see clouds blowing around and the light effects were stunning.
Some views #nofilter
Filled with excitement from safely getting to the top in a decent time of 48 minutes, we race off and head towards the next peak. In the wrong direction 😦
Although we were sort of lost, not that we knew it at the time it was a beautiful diversion. I think the main thing that alerted us to the fact we were going the wrong was that the sheep seemed confused that we were tabbing through their field.
The sheep although looking confused weren’t too bothered by our 2-mile detour into their realm. The way down into the field was very steep, strewn with sharp rocks that weren’t fun to amble across. You’ll note the stone wall on our left. Well after our little mishap, we had to find a way to get across that wall and back on “track”, all the way across and past the hill in the foreground.
Back on Track
Next Peak on the List, Whernside
Our friendly neighbourhood sheep showed us the way we should go, so off we went. We had wasted some time but everything was fine and we weren’t too far behind schedule.
We found this pretty little bridge crossing, an almost dried up river about 2 hours 47 in. There were so many beautiful country scenes along the route, I wondered why I hadn’t done something like this before. Maybe the 8-hour journey has something to do it…
Different Kind of Bridge
Big ol’ trains I think!
Clouds messing with our walk
The ascent to the second peak was slow and steady, with no difficult climbs or even drastic elevation to deal with. What we did have to contend with was the wind whipping in from all angles and depositing a decent amount of water vapour on us. This was a weird sensation. I was cold from the wind, hot from the sun and the climb and wet from the cloud being blown at me.
Infinity Pool would be nice but this was still pretty outstanding.
And finally, we get to the top.
What goes up must come down, so we did.
A road to nowhere? It was actually the trail to the next peak, Ingleborough. Not that we could see the way we were going to find the top. We didn’t find that until we reached the bottom.
The trail to the summit was tricky, not just because it was made up of stones and slabs less than a metre wide but because people were going in both directions on it. It was interesting to note the number of people that felt compelled to comment on our footwear. “Wow, your shoes are interesting”, “how do you walk with toes like that” or the best one “you’ve got toes”! I’m not sure what I’m supposed to have on my feet!! I thought it should be toes, but anyway. There was no “toe people” lynching, so everything was ok.
Third Summit, Ingleborough
After the climb up the almost sheer face and negotiating the bi-directional flow of people, the ground was really very stony on my now delicate feet. It was such a relief to have made it to the top. I was really enjoying the day, the challenge and the amazing scenery but my feet were done. I was looking forward to finishing the final 10k in quick time and rest my feet.
Cliched celebratory toe people pics
The quick 10k to the finishing signpost never happened, it was an arduous trek across stones, stones and more stones!!
According to my Fenix 5X, we completed the 3 peaks challenge in a little over 8 and a quarter hours. I was exhausted, the heat and lack of sleep were game opponents. But my feet was where I struggled the most. The little and big stones battered my feet from start to finish, this was the furthest I’ve ever walked in Vibram Five Fingers, and I have to say it’s unlikely I’ll walk this far again in them. It’s interesting to note the difference running reasonably long distances in VFF and walking in them. It was only 2 weeks ago that we ran 2 full Tough Mudder laps on the Saturday and a full lap on the Sunday so circa 30 miles, and my feet were fine. It would appear that I can toe strike effectively when running but fail miserably when walking. I responded to one of our Instagram followers a few weeks ago that I never have problems running over sticks and stones and I was only concerned about pointy metal, this is now not the case. The final walk down to the finish was probably two miles, a nice slow gradient and I’ll be honest it was the longest most painful 2 miles I have endured. Every step made me wince and I was actually thinking I’d rather be at the halfway point of the Fan Dance carrying my 20kg Bergen with my twisted ankle than walking these last two miles on this terrain. Even when the stones turned to grass for the last few hundred meters, every step was uncomfortable.
Once we had reached the sign in the above picture, I’d like to say that I was thrilled to have completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge, but I wasn’t. I just wanted to get back to the car and sit down. Interestingly as soon as we reached the Cafe to register our times. I was hit by hayfever, eyes swollen, sneezing etc. Very weird.
So anyway, weird hayfever, sore nose, very sore feet, the most hideous running vest tan and we were done. I crawled onto the tailgate of the Disco, necked an antihistamine, and kicked off my shoes. As my brother always says “I didn’t know if I needed a sh!t or a haircut”. What I did know was that I needed to put my full leg Compressport compression leggings on, as I now had an 8-hour drive home and cramp at 70MPH on the motorway is not fun.
Be good, if you cant be, good be, sensational!