Having the northbound M6 closed from Lancaster to Junction 36 didn't help much with stress levels prior to arrival at Hodge Close, about 10 minutes before the race was supposed to start. Luckily the race was postponed by 30 minutes, otherwise I envisaged chasing around after an already departed field of runners.
This was my 7th running at the Three Shires. Based on previous results, I was expecting to run around 2:18.
Summary of previous times:
2002 - 2:19:32
2004 - 2:17:07
2005 - 2:16:36
2008 - 2:11:32
2009 - 2:11:49
2011 - 2:23:46
When we finally got away at 11:30am, it was glorious sunshine and pretty much perfect running conditions.
|Race Start - Photos: Pauline Charters|
I chased this group to Swirl Hawse, but on the climb up Prison Band was caught by quite a few runners including Gary Thorpe, Mike Robinson and Richard Mellon. I reached the summit of Swirl How with Chris Reade but he pulled away on the descent. Just before the final drop to Three Shire Stone I was also caught by Dan Duxbury and James Archbold.
The climb up Pike o' Blisco was spent chasing Dan and James. Halfway up the climb I was reeled in by Jasmin Paris. I managed to stay just ahead of her, and we slapped the summit simultaneously before she turned and legged it across the summit rocks far faster than me.
On the fast technical descent to Blea Tarn I was caught by Ross Litherland and Adrian Davis just before the intake wall, and nasty descent through bracken and rocks. I jumped past Ross on this section, but then we ran up to the start of the final climb up Lingmoor together. After faffing around for gels and dropping the contents of my bumbag, and Ross helping me get my act together, he took off in hot pursuit to catch Jasmin.
I was impressed how quickly he opened a gap, and I tried to catch James and Jasmin before the Lingmoor summit cairn. I was couple of paces behind Jasmin, so just relaxed and thought I'd follow her route off, but halfway down she veered off course into bracken, allowing me back in front, so I now had her right on my heels. At the top of the zig-zags I told her it was quicker to batter straight down through the rocks and bracken. Once through the intake gate, I said she might as well go in front since I could tell I was holding her back, but unfortunately she promptly fell straight into the mud and lost a few metre, so I was no back in front as we hit the final track. I knew that after my 1-mile track race on Thursday, I could hammer out a pretty good pace from here to the end. So managed to reach the finish holding position in 2:16:08 for 23rd place.
|Three Shires Race Route|