Tom Owens heads for victory in last year's race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Tom Owens heads for victory in last year's race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Five former winners will be joining the field for this year’s Three Peaks Race at the weekend.

Runners tackling the gruelling ‘Marathon with Mountains’ will be hoping for favourable conditions in their quest to beat the course record and pick up a £500 bonus prize.

The Yorkshire Dales event celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. The overall course record for the 23-mile course, which involves 5,279ft of ascent over Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, was set 23 years ago.

Bingley Harrier Andy Peace set the fastest time of 2hrs 46mins 3secs during the 1996 race. Victoria Wilkinson, who will run again this year, claimed the women’s record in 2017 with a time of 3hrs 9mins 19secs.

Possibile heavy rain has been forecast for Saturday’s event, with temperatures only a few degrees above freezing on the tops for the 914 entrants.

Victoria Wilkinson leaves the Ingleborough checkpoint in 2018. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Victoria Wilkinson leaves the Ingleborough checkpoint in 2018. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Previous victors Ricky Lightfoot, Tom Owens and Victoria Wilkinson in the women’s race will have their eye on a win this year. Wilkinson’s 13th place overall two years ago 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, has competed for Great Britain in six disciplines in running and cycling.

Ricky Lightfoot took third place in last year's race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Ricky Lightfoot took third place in last year's race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

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.

But they are not the only previous winners. Gary Devine, who won in 1990 when he was running for Pudsey and Bramley Harriers, is also competing. Devine, a former English and Great Britain fellrunning champion, and his wife Deborah, now run a catered Alpine chalet at Savoie in the French Alps.

They have joined the Three Peaks sponsors and are offering a week’s accommodation for one person in their Alps Haven chalet in a competition to be drawn during prizegiving. Tickets will be on sale in the race marquee.

Daniel Connolly in action in 2018. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Daniel Connolly in action in 2018. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Another former winner Colin Robinson, of Rochdale Harriers, who set a time of 2hrs 44mins 44secs to win in 1969, over the old route from Chapel-le-Dale, is also returning. He and his wife, Brenda, will present the prizes 50 years after his race success.

Race challengers are expected to include Chris Holdsworth, another inov-8 ambassador, 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. Holdsworth, from Burnley, said he 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.

For the first time this year, £100 spot prizes will be awarded to the fastest male and female runners to reach Pen-y-ghent 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.

The first race in 1954 started from Chapel-le-Dale, between Whernside and Ingleborough, with only three of the six starters completing the event. Women competed for the first time in 1979.

The race starts on Saturday from Horton in Ribblesdale, at 10.30am.

More details are on the Three Peaks Race website.

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