Marc Lauenstein on his way to victory in his first Three Peaks Race

Marc Lauenstein on his way to victory in his first Three Peaks Race

A Swiss dentist was crowned king of the peaks in his first visit to one of the Yorkshire Dales’ toughest fell races.

Neuchatel-based Marc Lauenstein’s victory in the Three Peaks Race came in tough wintry conditions after four days of snow and ice lashed the fells of the Dales.

Marshals who usually temporarily remove one of the gates on Whernside found it partly buried in snow, and all three peaks were capped in snow and ice for the race on Saturday.

Tom Owens claimed third place

Tom Owens claimed third place

The 35-year-old’s victory came as he held off a strong challenge from Maryport firefighter Ricky Lightfoot, who had won the previous two years’ events. The front three runners, all members of Team Salomon, swapped places round the 37km (23-mile) course over Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, before Lauenstein took the lead heading up the final fell and resisted a close challenge from Lightfoot near the end, crossing the line in Horton in Ribblesdale just nine seconds ahead of the Cumbria.

Tom Owens, the 2011 winner, was third.

Ricky Lightfoot couldn't repeat his previous two victories

Ricky Lightfoot couldn't repeat his previous two victories

Lauenstein finished in 2hrs 48mins 58secs, almost three minutes slower than the record over the current course set by Andy Peace, of Bingley Harriers, in 1996.

Lauenstein reached the 694m (2,277ft) summit of Pen-y-ghent from Horton in Ribblesdale in 28mins 19secs, three seconds ahead of Lightfoot, who then edged into the lead as it turned into a race with their Salomon team-mate Tom Owens, 34, closely involved.

At High Birkwith only 42 seconds separated them with Lightfoot in the lead, Owens 14 seconds behind and Lauenstein 42 seconds in arrears. Lightfoot reached Ribblehead in hr 12mins 13 secs with Lauenstein, winner of the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2014 and the Marathon du Mont Blanc in 2015, third.

But Lauenstein dug deep on the steep ascent to Whernside’s 736m (2,415ft) summit in freezing conditions.

All three peaks had a covering of snow

All three peaks had a covering of snow

Lightfoot, 31, knew the tricky descent down the natural rock steps to Bruntscar and reached the valley bottom Hill Inn checkpoint two seconds ahead of Lauenstein with Owens now just over a minute behind.

But on the ascent of Ingleborough the Swiss runner overtook his team-mate. Lauenstein reached the 723m (2,372ft) summit 1min 4secs ahead of Lightfoot, but the race was far from over and he and Lightfoot gave spectators at Horton a thrilling finish after an 8km (5-mile) run for home.

Lauenstein said: “Actually it is my first fell race. Really I am an orienteer which is why I had some trouble running the section up to Ribblehead, but running up Whernside, it was my terrain.

Victoria Wilkinson posted the fastest women's time

Victoria Wilkinson posted the fastest women's time

“On the way up Ingleborough I was able to get away from Ricky, but on the way down he was so fast. He is such an incredible runner. I really did have to push hard. When he was getting close I was swearing.

“I used to think fell running was the thing to do and I always wished I could do it. Today was the day.”

Victoria Wilkinson of Bingley Harriers claimed the women’s prize and 35th place overall to beat ultrarunner Mira Rai from Nepal, but was outside Czech runner Anna Pichrtova’s record of 3hrs 14mins 43secs set when the Three Peaks hosted the World Mountain Running Championship in 2008. Wilkinson finished in 3hrs 26mins 47secs with Rai 9mins 8secs behind.

Gayle Sugden and Craig Stansfield make the climb up Swine Tail on to Ingleborough's summit

Gayle Sugden and Craig Stansfield make the climb up Swine Tail on to Ingleborough's summit

Rai, who won the women’s prize in the 50k race at the Himalayan Outdoor Festival in 2014 and 2015 and set a new record in the 2015 Mont Blanc 80k race, finished 65th overall in the Three Peaks Race. Helen Berry, of Holmfirth Harriers, was in third place and 71st overall in 3hrs 37mins 20secs.

Two runners other than the first trio finished in less than three hours: Karl Gray of Calder Valley Fell runners in 2hrs 57mins 13secs and Robert Hope of Pudsey and Bramley Athletics Club in in 2hrs 58mins 14secs.

The team trophy was won by Hunters’ Bog Trotters, Murray Strain, Duncan Coombs, Douglas Tuley and Colin Doig. Bingley Harriers and AC picked up the women’s team prize, with members Victoria Wilkinson, Ruth Whitehead and Lesley Watson.

Runners on the summit plateau of Ingleborough, with Pen-y-ghent in the distance

Runners on the summit plateau of Ingleborough, with Pen-y-ghent in the distance

Helm Hill Runners Nigel Wood, Kieran Hodgson and Craig Burrow won the men’s over 40s veterans’ award, with Keighley and Craven AC, Shaun Wilkinson, Simon Farrar and David Copping running off with the over 50s men’s veteran trophy.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Three Peaks Race runners face snow again in pursuit of Dales event’s records
  2. Runner Joe Symonds chases father’s tally with second Three Peaks Race win
  3. Neil Talbott wins gruelling 60-mile Fellsman race at first attempt
  4. ‘Mission accomplished’ as Victoria Wilkinson breaks women’s Three Peaks record