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In and Out of Whitehaven ... and Up and Down Scafell Pike

Rob Howard / 19.06.2017See All Event Posts Follow Event
Moby J runners on Scafell Pike
Moby J runners on Scafell Pike / © Rob Howard

Monday afternoon and evening on the Three Peaks Yacht Race in Whitehaven was busy as almost the whole race fleet arrived and set their runners off for Scafell Pike.

After waiting for the water to rise to sufficient depth in the sea lock Moby J was the second race boat to come into the marina and join leaders White Cloud.  Soon after they were followed by Hare Hill, Ajax and a refloated Wight Rose who had all been waiting to come into the Marina.

All were a bit frustrated at the wait, but glad to be ashore, and on another exceptionally hot day the runners at least avoided the worst of the heat, setting off in late afternoon.  In some ways the timing was ideal as they could tackle Scafell Pike in the last of the daylight.

The runners from Hare Hill, Ajax and Wight Rose were all at the marshal’s caravan to check out at the same time, causing a bit of congestion, and they were all warned to take care thought the busy town as they left.  They all knew their  deadlines to return  by in time to get out of sea lock, and Hare Hill were keen to be able to return and set off again quickly to catch a predicted increase in the wind in the early hours of the morning.  Wight Rose too wanted to avoid any more delays.

I saw all these teams on the cycle ride in Ennerdale, and they all looked strong on the bikes.  All of them passed the returning runners from White Cloud as they approached Ennerdale, and this pair did make it back in good time to sail straight out. Alistair Morris and Phil Scarf set a good time of 7 hours 32 minutes on the longest land stage and White Cloud left on the final sail at 18.55.

On the mountain run it was Alex Pilkington and Pavel Paloncy from Wight Rose who were moving the fastest, trying to catch Muir Morton and Tom Bush from Moby J.  The couldn’t do it but did set a faster time of 6 hours 35 minutes, just 6 minutes faster than their rivals.  After the first two runs there is still only 7 minutes between these two pairs in the battle for the King of Mountains title.  Pilkington told me he’d twisted his ankle on Snowdon, but it does not seem to be slowing him too much!

When I saw Pip Hare on Scafell Pike she was moving steadily but clearly feeling the heat, fatigue and strain of such a long land stage.  Charles Hill was carrying both packs as they made their way up to the rocky summit in the last of daylight.

While these runners were on the mountain the remainder of the boats had arrived in Whitehaven though the afternoon and evening, with Chemsol last in at 20.28.  Mammoths set off on their ride, only to quickly return with a bike which had “fallen to pieces”.  Luckily the White Cloud riders were back by this time and leant them a bike so they could set off and try again!  

It was just before midnight when the Wight Rose runners arrived back and this team has lost a member as Kees de Walle has to return to Holland to attend to a family matter. 

After the runners pulled up the skipper Geoff West greeted them with the words, “Before you ask the answer is no.”  He meant they were too late to get out of the lock gate – but it was very close, they were literally a few minutes too late to try! Alex Pilkington greeted this philosophically. “Oh well, at least we can have a shower!”

All of which leaves 7 teams out on the Scafell Pike stage overnight and many things still to be decided on the next day of this unpredictable race!

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