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wilkinson and strain take three peaks titles

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Victoria Wilkinson
1 May 2017 


On Saturday, the annual Three Peaks race played host to the trials event for the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships which will take place in August this year in Premana, Italy.

The race starting in Horton in Ribblesdale, takes in Pen-y-ghent, before a long stretch to the second peak of Whernside before a trip up to Ingleborough before the long run for home. The races takes in a distance of 23.3 miles with a total ascent/descent of 1608m (5279 feet) so is a test of human endurance for all those who take part.

There was a course record for Bingley’s Victoria Wilkinson as she won her third Three Peaks title in style. After wins in 2014 and 2016, she won in a record time of 3:09.19 to place 13th in the overall race. Wilkinson, who finished 14th at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships last year, was gunning for a place in the British squad at the 2017 edition, and a masterclass across the hills saw her take a giant step to confirming that place.

She spoke afterwards: “That was hard work but very good.  I had amazing support before and throughout the race and I'm really thankful for that; all the hard work paid off.  I'm delighted to get the record.  I've done a lot of reccying to achieve that time so it's great to bring the record back to Yorkshire.”

She was followed by Preston’s Nichola Jackson in a time of 3:26:17 and Charlotte Morgan from Carnethy was the third female finisher in 3:33.19.

Jackson, who was racing the Three Peaks for the first time added: “I've not done this race before and it's my first long race. I wasn't sure what pace to go so I tucked in behind Julie Briscoe and got her coming off Pen-y-Ghent and then just tucked in with a group of men.  Surprisingly I was passing people going up Ingleborough and then I just took it easy coming down because I have a tendency to fall. The support out on the course was amazing. The crowds kept telling me I was first lady but I knew that Vic was streaks ahead.

The men’s race saw a surprise winner in Murray Strain who took advantage of a mishap with navigation from Tom Owens, who was leading after the first two peaks but a wrong turn at the bottom of Whernside saw Strain take advantage. In the end, he won by over four minutes to take the race win on his second attempt after finishing seventh last year; his time was 2:49.38.

Hunter Bog Trotter, Strain commented after his victory: “I can't believe I've taken the win. Tom (Owens) took a wrong turn off Whernside so I didn't even know I was in the lead until people were telling me 'you're clear'. It's a really nice race; there was great support out on the course.”

A despondent Tom Owens, who was fourth at the World Championships in 2016, summarised: “I’m totally gutted really, I know that second place is brilliant in such a prestigious race, but when you're leading and feeling good and then mess up and it's all your own fault and you might not have that opportunity again (to go for the record), well...it's a blow.”

Clayton-le-Moor’s Christopher Holdsworth finished third in 2:54.49 with veteran Calder Valley’s Karl Gray fourth on 2:56.37 who was 11th at last year’s World Championships in Slovenia.

Full results and a more in-depth report can be found here: http://www.threepeaksrace.org.uk/index.html

*Photo credit: Dave Woodhead – Woodentops