HEBDEN'S Victoria Wilkinson is hoping to take the ladies title for the second time in three years on Saturday.

The England Fell Running champion and former Great Britain champion won in 2014 and hopes to impress as the race is a trial for the Great Britain team for the World Long Distance Running Championship.

A £500 record bonus prize is also on offer to the female runner who can beat 3hrs 14mins 43secs set by Czech Republic runner Anna Pichrtova when the Three Peaks hosted the World Mountain Running Challenge in 2008.

On paper, Mira Rai, 27, who is running for the first time in the Three Peaks, has the potential to be a female winner. The Salomon international runner is from Bholpur in Nepal, where she grew up in a remote village, using rough trails to collect food for animals and wood for cooking.

Rai has an impressive record as first female finisher. These include the 50K race at the Himalayan Outdoor Festival in 2014 and 2015, the 2015 Mont Blanc 80K race where she set a new record, the North Face Kathmandu Ultra in 2015, the Asia Skyrunning Championship in Sai Kung and the Italian Skyrunning Championship in the Dolomites where she completed the 56.9K with 3,700 metres of ascent and decent in 6hrs 36mins 30secs.

But year after year local knowledge has proved to be the key to running over the Three Peaks’ slippery limestone. UK female runners to watch include Helen Bonsor, of Carnethy Hill Running Club, who was first lady home last year, Wilkinson, of Bingley Harriers, and Shona Robertson, of Shettlestone Harriers.

Jasmin Paris, 32, of the Carnethy Hill Running Club, is another lady who can impress. She is reported as having set a time of 15hrs 23mins in the 66-mile circuit of the Bob Graham Round with 27,000ft of ascent over 42 Lake District fells. If the Edinburgh runner’s time is confirmed it will be two and a half hours quicker than Nicky Spinks, who set the previous fastest women’s time in 2015.

Firefighter Ricky Lightfoot is returning to the 2016 Three Peaks Race with the aim of making it three wins in succession and possibly beating a 20-year-old record.

If conditions in the Yorkshire Dales are perfect and Lightfoot is at the top of his form, he has the chance to claim the £500 bonus prize on offer for the fell runner who finishes in under 2hrs 46mins 3secs.

Last year he came the closest anyone has been to Bingley Harriers’ runner Andy Peace’s 1996 record with 2hrs 51mins 42secs – knocking 1min 34secs off his 2014 time.

The Three Peaks starts in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, near Settle, at 10.30am on Saturday. First runners should be on Penyghent summit from 10.55. Leaders should reach Ribblehead at 11.40, Whernside summit from12.10, Hill Inn at 12.25 and Ingleborough summit from 12.50. Leaders are expected back at Horton from 13.15. Parking is restricted at Ribblehead and the Hill Inn.