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Yorkshire 3 Peaks vs National 3 Peaks Challenge

Fresh off the Yorkshire 3 Peaks last weekend, I was asked a question that I’ve been asked many times in the past…

“What’s harder, the Yorkshire 3 Peaks or the National 3 Peaks challenge?”

Of course it’s all a matter of subjective experience and there are huge amounts of variables that affect how tough these challenges can be.

That said, having completed both of the challenges countless times and leading 1000s of participants through each challenge, I am well experienced to have a go at answering the question.

On paper, both challenges are of similar walking distance with Yorkshire 3 Peaks at 24 miles and the National 3 Peaks at a little over 25 miles, the latter does require significantly greater amount of ascending with 3500m whilst Yorkshire is less than half at 1585m.

So, if both challenges are equal in distance but the National challenge has double the height, surely the National is harder?

Well, it must be considered that the National 3 Peaks is broken up with two 6-hour minibus rides where participants can rest and recover, whilst their Yorkshire counterparts have minimal opportunity to rest if they stand any chance of completing the challenge within the 12-hour target.

If completing the National 3 Peaks in 24-hour pace, the walking time will account for 13 hours of the 24, making the total walking time of both events very similar.

With similar total distance and similar length of walking time, there is certainly an argument for Yorkshire 3 Peaks being tougher due to the 11-hour “resting” experienced by the National Three Peakers.

However, the final consideration I will throw into the mix is the mental demand placed on the National challengers as they push their sleep-deprived bodies through a full 24 hours endeavour, whilst the Yorkshire Peakers put in a single big effort before hitting the pub and then a bed!  

From my years of experience of completing, leading and supporting both challenges, I think the key factor is how participants on the National Three Peaks are able to cope with the minibus.

Those who are able to “sleep anywhere” clearly have a greater advantage compared to those who are forced to complete the challenge with barely any sleep.

In my opinion, the Yorkshire 3 Peaks provides the greater physical challenge with 12-hours of non stop trekking but the National 3 Peaks is more of a complete challenge with the added mental toughness required to push through the night with little or sometimes no sleep at all.

Ultimately they are two different adventures and both worthy challenges. The best way to find out which one is the toughest is to take them both on yourself.

Happy Trekking