Fell Running at Its Finest
Yorkshire's iconic Three Peaks Race celebrates 60 years
Rob Jebb running the Yorkshire Dales in the Three Peaks Race, one of Britain's greatest trail challenges. Photo by Steve Thomas.
Epitomizing Britain’s rough-cut, northern fell-running culture, Yorkshire’s Three Peaks Race is one of the country’s oldest and toughest trail-running races. 2014 will mark the event’s 60th year.
When people think of England, it’s often London and the “beautiful south” that spring to mind. In truth, that manicured and decorated southern corner of the country is little more than its fine trimming. To get to the guts of England, head for the green and grey, craggy landscapes of the northern counties, of which Yorkshire is the biggest. Mountains you find in Yorkshire—but, here, it’s also used to describe the area’s abundant high grazing pastures. In some form or another, fell running has existed in Britain since before the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Its hard-cut traditions and popularity lie firmly rooted in the fells.
In British terms, Yorkshire is a huge expanse. Had it been its own country, it would have featured well inside the top 10 in the London Olympics medal table, which offers some insight into the sporting heritage and pride of this great “shire.”
Barren moorland and mountains, known as dales and fells, compose a huge part of West Yorkshire. The word “fell” originated from Scandinavia, where it referred to the kind of windswept between West Yorkshire and its neighbor, the Lake District.
The Three Peaks Race officially began in 1954, with just six runners taking part. Today, this classic sees some 700 runners compete annually. A true test of Yorkshire grit, the 23-mile course takes in 5250 feet of climbing over steep, boggy and rocky Dales terrain, ascending the region’s famous three peaks: Pen-y-Ghent (1590 feet), Whernside (1502 feet) and Ingleborough (1553 feet.)