The Three Peaks Race takes in the the mountains of Phen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. 23.3 miles with 5279 feet of climb. This was my first time running. 
In the marquee before the race I tried to get my tactics straight in my head. Everyone I had talked to said that you can get in to real trouble if you set off too fast (and your race can end at Whernside), but I didn't really know how fast was too fast and how slow was too slow. I decided to follow Rob Baker initially, one thing I have learnt racing him over the last few years is that he always goes off sensibly so when the guns were fired and a few runners sprinted to the front I dropped in to the pocket with Rob. We chatted a little through Horton about the hills that awaited us. The first (Phen-y-Ghent), Rob told me, was the highest climb of the three.  

After a few minutes up the track that snakes up the first peak the race took on a Tour de France feel. Carl Bell had got a lead on the peleton which contained, from what I could see, all the main contenders. We weaved our way up the hill everyone trying to get in to the middle of the bunch to duck out of the strong wind to save some energy for later. As the climb got steeper we caught the break away but soon after the bunch fragmented. I let the lead pack, including Rob, go and stuck with Karl Grey who had also dropped back a little. I took a few glimpses of the great panarorama to our right before summiting. 

I took the descent really steady. I knew this was where you could wreck your legs for later and saw Carl Bell and Graham Pearce overtake me. I ran the long run across to Whernside alone. I tried to keep the pace honest and gauge it on the runners I could see ahead. When the race route climbed a small hill to the road I was worried that I had overcooked it. My legs were already starting to feel some tiredness an i'd only just gone over one hour of running. The big crowd at Ribblehead helped. I saw my mum who gave my a drinks bottle and some food which I tried willfully to eat on the go. 

I could still see a pack of runners ahead and as i climbed Whernside I expereienced some OMM deja vu. I could see all the front 9 now and the back few of that 9 were struggling. I caught Pearce and almost caught Tom Owens, punching the top 10 seconds later. I again took the descent steady and watched him disappear.

As I reached the bottom of the valley and started the final climb my legs were starting to feel it, despite this though I reeled in Owens again and could see Karl Grey not too far ahead. On the only out and back part of the course I saw everyone ahead apart from Joe Symonds. I gave Rob a shout of encouragement as he passed on the shoulder of Carl Bell (unfortunately he was in too much of a race blur to hear me). 
The wind had been strong all day but turning back off the top of Ingleborough was tough. Down the steep rocky section I started cramping up, not badly but enough to get me worried. I decided to try and get some more dextrose tablets down me but struggled and managed to fall. No damage done. I tried to run as quick as I could but I was really starting to feel it. Owens ran past saying "well run Oli" or something to that effect. I could see he was feeling it too though and there was a rather comedy moment across a long flat stretch where I could see we were both trying ridiculously hard to move fast but our bodies and the wind were just not letting it happen and we were confined to a slow trudge. Fortunately for both of us it really wasn't too far now and I got in to the finish in 9th place after several anxious looks behind me to finish in a time of 3.05.48.

It was an incredible race. The support on the hills was immense and so many people offered us water and food on the way round - a lot of thanks goes to them. Dark Peak claimed the team prize (Rob, Myself, Oli, Jon). The event was sponsored by Solomon who gave out some cool stuff to the winners. Props to them. This video produced by Solomon makes me want to do more of this kind of racing in the future.