10 Step Evolution Of A First Time Three Peaker

Ribblehead

1. Where’s Ben Nevis?
– if you’re thinking national summits, night time driving or even sailing up the west coast then tack away aff, my salty seadog…this be the three Yorkshire peaks, lad…

2. Acting on impulse
– you’ve decided to take on the challenge probably having already completed a range of shorter fell or hill races, maybe even including at least one long ‘un.  More likely, you’ve heard other club mates have recently entered (even superslow Mr. Shufflefeet) and you don’t want to miss out…

3. Quality control
– bugger!  You suddenly realise that there is some baffling qualifying criteria, apparently to ensure that you won’t be making a complete tit of yourself or unnecessarily wasting the time of volunteer marshals…

4. Diary management
– the FRA fixture diary is immediately thumbed opened and ALL available AL and BL races are circled with a black marker pen.  At this point your partner (or perhaps a smug club mate) rather unhelpfully points out that a super fast road marathon might be good enough?  Great, thanks.  You also establish that there aren’t that many suitable races during February-April that meet the entry requirements: you’ve already missed Trigger, your partner doesn’t fancy a blustery February weekend returning the ring to Mordor on the Isle of Man, so you’re left with the prospect of at least one that is nicknamed ‘the Beast’…

5. Crossroads
– despite the lack of the necessary entry requirements you perform a weird, silent deal with the devil, where you start to hill train like a bastard and, in return, he’ll make sure you’ll be all ticketyboo at your selected qualifying races.  If your surname is Johnson then fate will have it that you’ll already be acquainted. NB carrying a battered acoustic guitar OR displaying an ability to play the blues isn’t pivotal

6. Flat out
– slightly scuppering your wall-mounted schedule is the inescapable fact that (a) you live nowhere near any decent hills, while (b) the devil confuses your superhero plans as he reckons you’d be better placed to focus on tempo running.  You opt for a familiar mix of speedwork and efforts…

7. Bonked
– you abruptly discover at the Trog that your applied tempo running really wasn’t conducive to the sodden bogs and challenging tussocks of the Pennines. “Feckin’ devil!“, you mutter as you crawl with yet more cramp to a stop at the cricket ground finish.  Still, as you struggle to change from your wet clothes, club mates massage your busted confidence by suggesting that the ‘Peaks’ will be much easier: for starters there’s hardly any squelchy stuff and in the main the route is hard ground that weather-permitting you can probably do in road shoes.  Bad luck that you’ve just used the pricey Inov8 Bog-Dog-Bs that you bought on recommendation by Ben Mounsey.

8. Go long or go home… in shame
– after successfully completing your second qualifying event you start to up the miles.  You join club mates on a recce run up to Pen-y-Ghent followed by the swift sweep across to Ribblehead.   In glorious April sunshine your mates laugh and joke all the way round, including some abstract sniggers about a minibus or summat or other.  All briskly head straight to the Railway Inn for a pint and some pork scratchings.  With little energy left, and almost in tears, you slink off to the toilet wondering how the hell you will manage another two peaks…

9. Panic attack
– a week before race day you awake from a fitful sleep during which the devil was pissing himself with laughter because he’d convinced you that almost zero hill training would be fine.  You proceed to cram in as much hill work as possible, largely on THAT incline leading out of the village plus each day climbing the stairs to the office (sometimes two at a time) instead of taking the lift up the 6 levels.  You sit at your desk, sweating, ignoring your colleagues’ laughter and waiting for the devil to agree that the chuckling is just envy…

10. Uncertainty
– race day: you shelter from yet another wintry shower wondering how did it come to this – you have little idea what the race will be like?  In something of a trance you find yourself placing pre-labelled bottles into plastic tubs, each marked for seemingly mythical places, but they’re actually only Ribblehead and Hill Inn.  Inside the big white tent bile rises in your throat as an electronic dibber is fixed to your wrist amidst the fog of deep heat and grilled bacon.  Adrenaline reaches eruption levels as your kit is checked by diligent officials, establishing if you’ve done this before?  Then you march towards the start pen, somewhat bizarrely facing away from the first peak that (like the other two) you know is covered in a dusting of snow.  Nearby your club mates fist pump and holler away, proclaiming statements to each other, like “…it’s going to be bloody epic!”  The devil has long since buggered off.  He’ll reappear though, likely when you least want it: to suggest that you’ve not done enough training, a reminder perhaps that the knee niggle is back, or alarming you with nightmares of expected cramp and pending doom.  He’ll definitely be there while you’re on all fours, in a hail storm, going up THAT grassy bank towards Whernside.

Braveshorts

(Coach FRB)

Photo rights: Jim Tyson

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