Kenneth Malton nears the top of the ascent to Ingleborough. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Kenneth Malton nears the top of the ascent to Ingleborough. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The record for the gruelling ‘marathon with mountains’ in the Yorkshire Dales remained unbroken after the winner finished just three minutes outside the existing fastest time.

Tom Owens took first place in the Three Peaks Race, beating last year’s victor Murray Strain into second place.

Cumbrian firefighter Ricky Lightfoot came home in third place.

Tom Owens heads for victory on Ingleborough. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Tom Owens heads for victory on Ingleborough. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Victoria Wilkinson repeated her 2017 victory in the women’s trophy, but failed to beat her record-breaking time set last year.

A field of 769 runners started from Horton in Ribblesdale, setting out to tackle Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough over the 23.3-mile course, in cool, dry, breezy conditions.

Owens, a member of Shettleston Harriers in Glasgow, finished the race in 2hrs 49mins 8secs, which was 4mins 26secs quicker than his 2011 win.

Murray Strain leaves the Ingleborough summit checkpoint. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Murray Strain leaves the Ingleborough summit checkpoint. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

It also made amends for last year when he was well in the lead until a wrong turning on the descent from Whernside summit to the Hill Inn checkpoint.

His mistake in 2017 gave the race to Murray Strain, from Hunters Bog Trotters in Edinburgh, who now lives near Cambridge. On Saturday their positions were reversed with Owens coming home 3mins 28secs in the lead in a race.

Salomon International runner Owens, 36, said: “I was so relieved to stay on route and finish in first place.

Ricky Lightfoot took third place. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Ricky Lightfoot took third place. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

“After messing up last year I was a bit scared to come back. This year there was a sign and a marshal at the junction where I went wrong, so I knew I was on track. But Murray is such a good runner. I remember glancing back on Whernside and thinking how close he was.

“Then he chased me off Ingleborough. He is super strong.”

Third place runner Ricky Lightfoot of Ellenborough Running Club, a Salomon International Team member, won the race in 2014 and 2015. At the finish, runners toasted his third place in a special edition Three Peaks Race beer from Northern Monk Brewery in Leeds, which had the event’s history on a pull-off label and each can signed by Lightfoot.

Victoria Wilkinson leaves the Ingleborough checkpoint on her way to victory in the women's race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Victoria Wilkinson leaves the Ingleborough checkpoint on her way to victory in the women's race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Runners heading out of the race headquarters at Horton in Ribblesdale, passed an articulated lorry trailer vinyl-wrapped with an image of Victoria Wilkinson, who knocked five minutes off the women’s record to claim a £500 bonus prize in 2017.

The British international runner first claimed the ladies’ title in 2014. On Saturday, the Inov-8 ambassador made it three wins in succession – 2016, 2017 and 2018. Last year, from her home in Sedbergh in Cumbria, Victoria dedicated months of training to beat the record.

But this year the Bingley Harriers’ athlete, who has represented Britain in six running and cycling disciplines, has her mind set on the World Mountain Running Championships in Karpacz, Poland, in June, followed by Sky Races in Italy and Andorra. She has paced her training for the World Mountain goal and knows she was fitter at this point last year.

She said she has focused on her running and shut out other influences, including social media, where followers have kept asking if she was attempting to repeat the Three Peaks record in 2018. Immediately before the race, she looked at the 10ft tall photograph of herself, which will be seen around Britain on the CSH Transport lorry, but shut it from her mind.

“At the start I ran past without seeing it,” she said. “My mind was set on the race. It was not a record-breaking attempt, which was a bit sad in a way, but I achieved what I set out to do.”

Daniel Connolly hits the heights during the race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Daniel Connolly hits the heights during the race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

On Saturday she finished 33rd in 3hrs 22mins 17secs, compared with 13th in 2017 in 3hrs 9mins 19secs.

Second fastest woman was Georgia Tindley of Hunters Bog Trotters, 43rd overall in 3hrs 26mins 2secs, with Beth Pascall, of Belper Harriers, 3rd and 48th overall in 3hrs 28mins 46secs.

In the veterans’ classes, Ken Taylor, 70, of Rossendale Harriers, knocked 12 minutes off the Men’s Over-70 record. His time of 4hrs 32mins 31secs broke the record set by Kieran Carr, of Clayton-le-Moors Harriers, who set 4hrs 44mins 18secs in 2015.

The race, billed as the marathon with mountains, involves 5,279ft of ascent and descent. The race record of 2hrs 46mins 3secs over the current course was set by Andy Peace of Bingley Harriers, in 1996.

This year the Three Peaks was the selection race for the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships.

Full results are on the Three Peaks Race website.

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