ONE of the United Kingdom’s most iconic fell races celebrates its 65th anniversary in the Yorkshire Dales on Saturday.

The Three Peaks Race – billed as the “Marathon with Mountains” – will start at Horton-in-Ribblesdale, near Settle at 10.30am with 914 entrants tackling the 23-mile route over Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

Among those returning to try to claim the £500 bonus prize for a winner who can break either the male or female records are Ricky Lightfoot, Tom Owens and Victoria Wilkinson.

The men’s record of 2hrs 46mins 3secs over the current course, which has ascent and decent of 5,279ft, was set by Andy Peace, of Bingley Harriers in 1996.

This has never been beaten even though the Three Peaks hosted an international field for the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in 2008.

But, if weather conditions remain unchanged, anything is possible. On his first visit to the Three Peaks in 2016, Swiss dentist Mark Lauenstein came closest to the record – setting 2hrs 48mins 58secs on a course made tricky by four days of snow and ice.

Another Bingley Harrier, Victoria Wilkinson, a four times Three Peaks Ladies’ Champion, who lives in Sedbergh, set the women’s record of 3hrs 9mins 19secs in 2018 and claimed the £500 bonus. Victoria’s 13th place overall meant she is the highest female finisher in the race history.

The remedial and sports masseur, who is an ambassador for the Three Peaks main sponsor inov-8, the all-terrain footwear, clothing and equipment brand, has competed for Great Britain in six disciplines in running and cycling.

Lightfoot, a Cumbrian firefighter and an Ellenborough Running Club member, who competes for the Salomon International Team, won the race in 2014 and 2015. His team-mate Owens, of Shettlestone Harriers in Glasgow, won in 2011 and 2018.

Race challengers are expected to include Chris Holdsworth, who only began competitive running in 2013. His international debut for Great Britain was at the Mountain Running Championships at Premana, Italy, in 2017, finishing 32nd. Chris, from Burnley, has a dream of winning the Three Peaks.

The entrant travelling the longest distance to compete is Thomas Zoehrer, 47, a native of Austria, now living in Superior, Colorado, in the United States. He is more used to long distance endurance events like the Georgia Death Race, the premier USA East Cost ultra-race – more than 70 miles with 27,000ft of elevation change.

Three Peaks innovations for 2019 include £100 spot prizes for the fastest male and female runners to reach Penyghent summit from the start and £50 for the quickest descent from Ingleborough checkpoint to the finish. To be eligible for these awards, runners must complete the race.