Ricky Lightfoot wins 60th 3 Peaks Race

 ©Mick Kenyon / Racing Snakes

©Mick Kenyon / Racing Snakes

After a number of attempts at glory and a second place finish in 2009, Salomon International runner Ricky Lightfoot eventually added one of fell running ‘monuments’ to his growing list of big wins, as he stormed to victory at the 60th 3 Peaks Race.

Matt Ward, PR for the Salomon Trail Team provides an insight into a classic race.

Understated as ever the Salomon International runner stated:

“I wasn’t expecting much at the 3 Peaks, I thought it would be a good hard training run in preparation for the Maxi Race in Annecy which is in May, I felt I was in good enough shape to get a top 10 finish and I’d have been happy to run somewhere between 3.00-3.10.”

As it turned out his winning time of 2:53:16 was the third fastest time in the last 15 years, and this effort was underlined by second-placer Tom Owens who said:

“Ricky had a very strong run and I was impressed with his finishing time – given the running conditions were not fast with the recent rain which made the course very muddy and then there were the strong winds.”
A compliment indeed from the 2011 winner. Ricky explains how the race unravelled:
“After a troublesome start to 2014 with injuries I hardly imagined that I’d get a chance to have a crack at the 3 Peaks Race this year, but after a late entry I’m happy to say I took the chance and ran it. I was always doubtful that I’d get an entry so late so trained as normal up until Wednesday when I found out I had been given an one, that gave me Thursday and Friday to recover for the race the following day.
“We arrived in Horton on the morning of the race and the weather was pretty horrid, the clag was down and there was shower after shower. I was told that the course would be pretty wet and muddy today and as there was a few other events on the same day the paths would be well trodden. We picked our numbers up and changed, I managed to get a little run up the road to warm up in-between showers and it was almost time to gather on the start. I don’t know where time goes before the race!”
“Another quality field had assembled for the 60th 3 Peaks Race with only 1 or 2 Internationals this year. We toed the start line and the race got under way, I decided to push the pace from the start and led out of the field and onto the road, Salomon GB Team mate Tom Owens followed and we worked together on our way up to Pen Y Ghent, as we approached the summit I began to feel the effects of the fast start and lack of running fast in general, Tom pulled away and I was passed by Thor Ludvigson with Rob Jebb just on my heels as we dibbed the first summit.”
“The run off was wet and the clag was down, I managed to catch Thor and kept Tom in my sights as we reached the path where other runners were coming up (thanks for the shouts). I managed to catch Tom and again we pushed on over to High Birkwith, I felt as though I was hanging on at this point which was a bit worrying but I thought I’d start to fade from the pace around the hour mark.”
“I stuck to Tom along the road and we reached Ribblehead together, Tom stopped to grab his bottle and lost a few seconds while I moved on and picked a Kinetica Gel up off friend Jackie Winn further along the track where Tom caught me again. We could see that we had a gap to 3rd place which was good as we knew Jebby would claw some time back climbing up to Whernside. We reached the top in 1.42 which from previous peaks races I’d ran knew that we were running quick given the underfoot conditions.”
“Tom pulled a few seconds on the Whernside descent but I managed to catch him on the run over to Hill Inn, I took another Kinetica Gel from Jackie at this point as we only had one more summit to climb, Ingleborough. This section seemed to fly by, we reached the bottom of the steep climb with Tom only slightly ahead. Half way up I felt as though a had a little something left so pushed a little harder to the summit, I was surprised to move away from Tom and reach Ingleborough with an advantage. Could I really win the 3 Peaks?”
“I was always conscious of Tom as he’s one of the best descenders around, off the summit I pushed to see whether I could grab a few more seconds, at this point I found myself moving away. There was a strong head wind which made the going feel really slow. I reached Sulber Nick and the finger post which I’d remembered from previous years and took one last glance to see if anyone was catching. At this point I knew there wasn’t far to the finish, looking at my Suunto I knew today it was going to be a PB so pushed a little harder on the run in, I crossed the line in 2.53.16.”
“I’m over the moon at winning my first 3 Peaks Race as it has come so unexpected! Once again the 3 Peaks Race put on an excellent event and is up there with some of the best races around. Thanks to the Jackie Winn, the marshalls and spectators, the shouts of encouragement really do help!”
 ©Mick Kenyon / Racing Snakes

©Mick Kenyon / Racing Snakes

Former winner Owens was also satisfied with his day, especially given his injury issues of 2013, he commented:

“I missed the 3 peaks in 2013 through injury so was delighted to be back at this classic race & knew that I was in pretty good shape. Ricky and myself worked together for much of the race and it was relaxing to be running with a team mate, the pace felt good and we were pulling away from the other runners.
“I was always conscious of the quality of the chasing runners and their ability to make up time- especially Jebby with his climbing ability & pedigree at this race.
“Ricky and I were together through Hill Inn and this is where the race really kicks in -especially this year as the 2nd half of the race was into head winds. On the lower slopes of Ingleborough I still felt okay and started to get away from Ricky on the step sections over the boggy ground but Ricky kept pulling me back! we were also together up the steep section on Ingleborough.
“I had a bad energy blip and Ricky pushed on getting some time on me to the top of Ingleborough. I tried to stay calm and recover as it’s a long slog of a descent to the finish & it is possible to real folk in. I started to descend hard. It was a particularly strong head wind and muddy conditions and try as I might I wasn’t closing the gap! in the end Ricky was pulling away! I took a small tumble which made me cramp and slowed further, so second place it was.”
“Ricky was telling me he’s had injury issues this year but this result shows he’s still in great shape & his ultra running in 2013 has certainly made him resilient. I hope he has a cracking 2014 season.”
“I thought I had a pretty good run and was pleased with the way I was feeling for most of the race – it was certainly exciting to be at the sharp end. Although having won this race once before it’s hard to be happy with second place now! Perhaps I should have started off more conservatively? I also faffed around at the drinking stops finding my water bottles which seemed to zap momentum & I had to work hard to get back…..regardless it’s still very early in the season so onwards and upwards!”
Behind Ricky and Tom, Rob Jebb finished a very strong third, just under 3 hours.
In his first trip the UK for the 3 Peaks race Salomon International’s Thor Ludvigsen finished a highly creditable 6th, and has vowed to return to the event after thoroughly enjoying his day ‘fell running’ and his weekend in Yorkshire!
For further information on any aspect of the Salomon Trail Team and Salomon Avenir athletes, products and racing activity, please contact team PR manager Matt Ward on +44(0)7515558670 or email matt@runcomm.co.uk

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