Three Peaks Yacht Race

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Three Peaks

The Barmouth to Fort William Three Peaks Yacht Race is the greatest adventure challenges in British sport. It combines yachting and mountain running with a little bit of cycling. For information about the race itself see the Three Peaks Yacht Race web site .

The Merioneth Yacht Club hosts the start of the race.

Mary Howell relates her experiences in 2007.

There were new faces in the yacht club. Wendy seemed to know them all. Some she greeted as old friends, after thirty years involvement there must be many, some she greeted as new friends, welcoming them to the race. New, large boats, moored on the far side of the harbour in strong tide where trots had been laid specially for them. There is only room for just over twenty five boats so the event can't ever be too enormous. Perhaps by its very nature the race is self limiting. The physical endurance required to run up three mountains after battling with the elements at sea only to be wondered at. Perhaps that is also its attraction; the extreme physical challenge.

The air of excitement in the yacht club in the lead up to the race was almost tangible. There is always a dinner as a send off for the sailors and their back up crews. It is more of a banquet with wonderful home made dishes and puddings donated all lovingly prepared by a stream of willing hands. Everyone can fill their boots in preparation for the journey. The meal in itself is a mastermind of organisation. A hundred and fifty people are served in the space of two hours, so many faces rosy with wine and good cheer, making their last minute strategies.

I have never helped before. I may have handed in a salad or a pud, but I had not peeled spuds, made coffee, served meals, taken money, been in the thick of things. It was fun, hard work but decidedly good natured and fun. It soon became apparent that the race is a huge machine whose cogs, oiled by competent hands, never cease to turn. The meal and the bacon butty breakfast served before the off, a mere token of the total effort.

After the boats leave Barmouth, marshals and officials and back up crews scatter up the coast in pursuit, eager to catch a glimpse of them as they glide by, and intent on arriving at their posts before the boats arrive; Caernarfon, Whitehaven and Fort William, and the club parties on then quietens, breathing easily ready for the next event.

Denis was asked if he would marshal at Ennerdale, they were a man down. Boats arrive in Whitehaven and then the runners have to cycle 15 miles to Ennerdale, a quiet outpost, where bikes can be stowed while the athletes make their ascent and descent of Sca Fell. I was not exactly part of the deal, but there was no way I wanted to sit at home while the adventure was on. Four hour watches through the night, mosquito nets to ward off plagues of midges, communal living in a semi derelict, semi restored barn and bunk house, a Spartan shower/toilet/ kitchen/ wood burning stove to add to the charm. Who could resist?

It was an adventure too, seeing the runners before and after their endurance, listening to tales of gales and blisters and aching limbs. Some so tired they could barely stand, some still fresh and competitive, in with a chance of winning. It was a pleasure to feel the team spirit, the marshals supportive and helpful, the competitors willing to see each other right with offers of advice and spare parts and POWER BARS.

Will I be there next year? If asked, you bet.

Ready to start in 2008
Ready to start in 2007
The army cadets selling programs 2007
Marshal trying anti-midge headgear in 2007
BATALA Bermo playing the yachts out in 2006
The Lifeboat leading the Yachts out in 2005 as seen from a B&B window in 2005
As seen from the beach in 2005
The Lifeboat leading the Yachts out in 2004

Comments to Paul Rendell