Three Shires Fell Race

Last updated

The Three Shires Fell Race is an annual Lake District fell race held in September, starting and finishing at the Three Shires Inn in Little Langdale. After an initial run along the valley, the route climbs steeply to Wetherlam, then down to Prison Band and up to the summit of Swirl How. The course then drops to the Three Shire Stone at the top of the Wrynose Pass, the meeting point of the historic counties of Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland. An ascent of Pike of Blisco follows, then the route drops to Blea Tarn before the final climb to Lingmoor Fell and descent to the finish. [1]


The route is approximately 18 kilometres (11 mi) in length with 1,360 metres (4,460 ft) of ascent. [2]


The inaugural race was held in 1983. The leading organiser was Ian Stephenson of the Three Shires Inn, who was assisted by Selwyn Wright who later became the main organiser. [3]

In 1984, the prizes were presented by Chris Brasher, the gold medallist in the 3000m steeplechase at the 1956 Olympic Games. Brasher also competed in that edition of the Three Shires but did not finish the race. A junior race was added to the event that year. [4] In some later years, the junior races featured as age group championship races and participating runners included Rob Hope, Victoria Wilkinson and Rob Jebb. [5]

The 1990 women's race was won by Mari Todd who was then only seventeen years old. She went on to win the English Fell Running Championships in 1997. [6]

The Three Shires has been one of the counting races in the English Fell Running Championships, including the 1993 edition. [7] In 1997 it was again an English Championships counter as well as a home international with England winning the team race, followed by Scotland and then Wales. [8]

The Three Shires is one of the races in the Lakeland Classics Trophy series which was established in 2002. [9]


The male and female course records were both set in 1997, by Gavin Bland with a time of 1:45:08 and Mari Todd with 2:05:29. The men's record has not been approached since then, but Victoria Wilkinson was within thirty seconds of the women's record in 2016.

Ricky Lightfoot has the greatest number of wins amongst the men, with five between 2007 and 2016. Mari Todd and Vanessa Brindle (now Vanessa Peacock) have won the women's race the most times, with three victories each.

The winners have been as follows. [10]

1983 Billy Bland 1:56:19Linda Lord2:43:19
1984Bob Whitfield1:53:08 Pauline Haworth 2:18:44
1985 Mark Rigby 2:01:10Stephanie Quirk2:54:18
1986Mark Rigby1:54:32Vanessa Brindle2:12:57
1987Bob Whitfield1:49:07Vanessa Brindle2:15:05
1988 Colin Donnelly 1:50:07Ruth Pickvance2:12:49
1989 Keith Anderson 1:45:55Vanessa Brindle2:08:45
1990Mark Fleming1:52:04Mari Todd2:14:00
1991 Gavin Bland 1:51:03Ruth Pickvance2:19:13
1992Jason Bradley2:00:29Mari Todd2:26:44
1993Gavin Bland1:47:59 Carol Greenwood 2:13:58
1994Robin Jamieson1:55:17Glynda Cook2:23:21
1995Andrew Davies1:52:40Glynda Cook2:23:49
1996Jim Davies1:47:33Andrea Priestley2:10:06
1997Gavin Bland1:45:08Mari Todd2:05:29
1998Paul Sheard1:58:28 Yvette Hague 2:12:05
1999Jim Davies1:51:30Nicola Davies2:14:29
2000Andy Kitchen2:03:39 Nicky Lavery 2:35:31
2001Cancelled due to foot-and-mouth outbreak
2002Mark Hayman1:59:43Hilda Bransby2:28:23
2003Tim Austin1:55:23Sue Wood2:19:06
2004Simon Stainer1:57:56Lou Sharp2:18:28
2005Steve Bottomley1:56:29Karen Davison2:17:24
2006Nick Sharp2:03:00 Helene Diamantides 2:20:26
2007 Ricky Lightfoot 1:53:05Jackie Lee2:13:49
2008Ricky Lightfoot1:57:23Janet McIver2:08:49
2009Chris Steele1:57:42Mary Gillie2:28:59
2010Ricky Lightfoot1:55:49 Lauren Jeska [A] 2:13:21
2011Carl Bell2:00:20Hazel Robinson2:29:42
2012Rhys Findlay-Robinson1:59:44 Jasmin Paris 2:16:26
2013Ben Abdelnoor2:05:11Jane Reedy2:29:57
2014Rhys Findlay-Robinson1:54:38Jasmin Paris2:12:11
2015Ricky Lightfoot1:56:44Judith Jepson2:23:39
2016Ricky Lightfoot1:57:22 Victoria Wilkinson 2:05:55
2017Jonny Malley2:01:55Claire Nance2:33:28
2018Jack Wood1:54:30Natalie Beadle2:31:47
2019Garry Greenhow2:00:45Natalie Beadle2:32:06
2020Cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2021Matt Atkinson2:01:20Lizzie Richardson2:38:31
2022Jack Wright1:56:33Majka Kunicka2:26:40
2023Luke Fisher1:51:22Frances Collett2:32:05

A Jeska was a transgender runner who competed as a woman. However, doubts were raised over whether she was eligible to compete as a woman and her results were declared null and void. [11] Jeska excluded, the first woman in the 2010 race was Tracey Greenway in a time of 2:27:02.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fell running</span> Sport of running and racing, off-road, over upland country

Fell running, also sometimes known as hill running, is the sport of running and racing, off-road, over upland country where the gradient climbed is a significant component of the difficulty. The name arises from the origins of the English sport on the fells of northern Britain, especially those in the Lake District. It has elements of trail running, cross country and mountain running, but is also distinct from those disciplines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rob Jebb</span>

Robert Jebb is an English fell runner, skyrunner, and cyclo-cross rider. He has won the annual Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross in the Yorkshire Dales a record twelve times since 2000, is a four-time-winner of the Three Peaks Race in the same region and broke Catalan dominance in the Buff Skyrunner World Series when he became champion in 2005.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ian Holmes (runner)</span>

Ian Holmes is an English fell runner who was the national champion several times in the 1990s and 2000s and represented his country at the World Trophy and European Trophy.

Carol Greenwood is an English former runner who won the World Mountain Running Trophy and was twice a national fell running champion.

Keith Anderson is a male British former runner who was the national fell running champion and competed in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games.

Gavin Bland is a British fell runner who was a British and English champion and represented his country at the World Mountain Running Trophy.

Mark Kinch is an English former runner who was a national fell running champion and represented his country at the World Mountain Running Trophy in the mid-1990s.

Angela Brand-Barker is a British runner who was a national fell running champion and represented her country at the World Mountain Running Trophy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Borrowdale Fell Race</span>

The Borrowdale Fell Race is an annual fell race held in August, starting and finishing in Rosthwaite. It is considered to be one of the "classic" Lakeland races and the route initially heads over Bessyboot before climbing England's highest summit, Scafell Pike. Great Gable is then scaled before a descent to Honister Pass and the final climb up Dale Head. The distance is approximately seventeen miles and the route has around 6,500 feet of ascent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Simon Booth (runner)</span> English runner

Simon Booth is an English runner who was twice the British fell running champion and who has represented his country at the World Mountain Running Trophy.

The Wasdale Fell Race is an annual Lake District fell race held in July, starting and finishing at Brackenclose in Wasdale. The course is approximately twenty-one miles long with around 9,000 feet of ascent and takes in checkpoints at Whin Rigg, Seatallan, Pillar, Great Gable, Esk Hause shelter, Scafell Pike and Lingmell nose wall. The route between Pillar and Lingmell is very rough, with steep technical ground and boulder fields. Among long fell races, Wasdale has one of the highest ratios of feet of ascent per mile, and it is often considered to be the toughest of the British races.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Langdale Horseshoe</span>

The Langdale Horseshoe is an annual Lake District fell race that starts and finishes at the Old Dungeon Ghyll. The course climbs to Stickle Tarn before heading to Thunacar Knott, Esk Hause shelter, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags and Pike of Blisco. The route is approximately 21 kilometres (13 mi) in length with 1,450 metres (4,760 ft) of ascent. It includes much rough and rocky ground. On the descent from Crinkle Crags, many runners negotiate the Bad Step, although it can be avoided depending on route choice. The race often presents navigational difficulties, especially in poor visibility.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jasmin Paris</span> British runner (born 1983)

Jasmin Karina Paris is a British runner who has been a national fell running champion and who has set records for the Bob Graham Round and the Ramsay Round.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ricky Lightfoot</span> British runner (born 1985)

Ricky William Lightfoot is a British runner who has been a world champion in trail running and a medallist in the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Isle of Jura Fell Race</span>

The Isle of Jura Fell Race is an annual fell race held in May, starting and finishing at Craighouse on the Scottish island of Jura. The course loops west and north over several hills including the Paps of Jura. After the last climb to Corra Bheinn, a boggy descent takes the runners down to the tarmac coastal road which is followed for the final three miles to the finish. The route is approximately 17 miles (27 km) in length, with around 2,350 metres (7,710 ft) of ascent. As well as being known for the very difficult rocky and boggy terrain involved, the race is notable for its remoteness. The journey to the start of the race typically involves a ferry journey from the Scottish mainland to Islay, followed by another ferry to Jura and then several miles by bicycle, by bus or on foot to Craighouse.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ennerdale Horseshoe Fell Race</span>

The Ennerdale Horseshoe Fell Race is an annual Lake District fell race held in June, starting and finishing at the Scout Camp near Ennerdale Water. The route is approximately 36.8 kilometres (22.9 mi) in length with 2,290 metres (7,510 ft) of ascent and takes in checkpoints at Great Borne, Red Pike, Blackbeck Tarn, Green Gable, Kirk Fell, Pillar, Haycock, Iron Crag and Crag Fell.

Mark Alan Rigby is a British runner who was a national hill running champion and who represented Scotland in the World Mountain Running Trophy.

The first British Fell Running Championships, then known as Fell Runner of the Year, were held in 1972 and the scoring was based on results in all fell races. In 1976 this was changed to the runner's best ten category A races and further changes took place to the format in later years. Starting with the 1986 season, an English Fell Running Championships series has also taken place, based on results in various races of different lengths over the year.

The Coniston Fell Race is an annual Lake District fell race held in April or May, starting and finishing in the village of Coniston. The route is approximately 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) in length with 1,065 metres (3,494 ft) of ascent and takes in checkpoints on the summits of Wetherlam, Swirl How and the Old Man of Coniston.

Pauline Stuart is a former pioneer female fell runner, being the first woman to win many of the classic fell races in the late 1970s and early 1980s, some as soon as they allowed women to enter.


  1. Selwyn Wright and Elaine Wright, "Race Profile – The Three Shires Race", The Fellrunner Magazine, Oct 2001, 39; Ambleside AC: Three Shires.
  2. Scottish Hill Racing: Three Shires Fell Race.
  3. Steve Chilton, It's a Hill, Get Over It (Dingwall, 2013), 96-97.
  4. The Fell Runner, Jan 1985, 61.
  5. The Fellrunner Magazine, Feb 2005, 40.
  6. Steve Chilton, It's a Hill, Get Over It (Dingwall, 2013), 96-97, 332.
  7. The Fellrunner, Feb 1994, Championship Results section.
  8. The Fellrunner, Feb 1998, Results section, 8.
  9. Lakeland Classics Trophy: History.
  10. Lakeland Classics Trophy: Race Results; Graham Breeze, "Equi ad Circos (Classic Fell Races Part 3)", The Fellrunner Magazine, Feb 2003, 24-26; Bill Smith, "An Early History of the Lakeland Long As: 1968-85"; Clayton-le-Moors Harriers: CLEM News, Dec 1986; Results.
  11. Pidd, Helen (2017-03-17). "Jailed fell runner thought UK Athletics was 'trying to kill her'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-11-13.