3x3 Peaks – 75 Mile Challenge

3 x 3 Peaks - 3 Peaks, 3 times!

The 3 Peaks in the Yorkshire Dales is a 25 miles circular course over rugged Yorkshire terrain, knee deep bogs and streams, which takes in the fells of Penyghent (694m), Whernside (736m) and Ingleborough (723m).

The course is generally attempted as a test of endurance to be completed once within a 12 hour period.

In April 2007 Ben attempted to complete the 25 miles circuit, 3 times back to back within 24 hours – a total distance of 75 miles with an ascent and descent of nearly 6500m.

“I’ve run the course over 15 times and in both directions as part of my training for other events, and just for fun, so I know the course well and I know how difficult it can be. The climbs are really steep in places and there are places in between where you can find yourself waist deep in a bog”.

Ben set off unsupported at 10:20 am on the 6th of April from Horton in Ribblesdale, planning to take around 7 hours for the first lap, 8 for the second and 9 for the third, bringing him in 24 hours.

“I’ve been running consistently under 5 hours for the course in both directions so I knew that pacing for 24 hours over 75 miles wouldn’t be too difficult”

On a day that the temperature was higher than in Athens Ben was running well and completed the first leg in 5 and half hours.

“Physically I felt great, I was running well and felt relaxed, having to set off again on the second lap was the most mentally challenging part of the day, but once I got going again my spirits lifted”.

Ben was making good time on the second leg and adapted his plans to suit.

“I decided to push hard on the second leg so that it would leave me 12 hours to complete the last leg, which would be relatively easy.”

Ben completed the second leg, in 5 and three quarter hours, a total time for the first 50 miles, and 4300m of ascent and descent, of just 11 and a quarter hours.

“Although it was getting late in the day I was feeling strong and upbeat coming down from Ingleborough for the second time, but the sun had set and it was making running particularly treacherous. I had always planned to continue through the night and had expected there to be an amount of ambient light to help light the way, but this was pitch black and my head torch just wasn’t bright enough for me to see more than a yard in front of me, and when you are running on rough terrain you need to see what's in front of you.”

"When I finished the second lap I knew I had over 12 hours to do the last 25 miles and I quickly got straight back out on the third and final lap not wanting to stop and waist time, or to seize up. I was still feeling strong and actually felt comfortable going up Penyghent for the third time. However, it soon became apparent that with no support and already having run the equivalent of around 60+ miles on the flat, continuing in the pitch black was too dangerous and I had to make the tough decision to turn back to Horton.

It sounds like a contradiction but I know the course well enough to know that in that situation I would have got lost, and I would needlessly have risked a serious injury which would have meant missing my up coming expedition to Denali."

"It's the first time I've had to make a decision like that and I'm proud to say I made the right one, I didn't let my ego get in the way despite being in touching distance of the 3 x 3 Peaks, and having already done the hard work and still feeling strong."

"When you do things like I do, long term success is about making the right decisions at the right time, and with the ability to do that comes longevity. I'll definitely go back to capitalise on my experience - THIS IS NOT OVER, watch this space!"