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 in 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 2 hours 46 minutes 3 seconds over the current course, which has ascent and decent of 5,279 feet, 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 – running 2 hours 48 minutes 58 seconds 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 3 hours 9 minutes 19 seconds in 2018 and claimed the £500 bonus.

Wilkinson’s 13th place overall meant she is the highest female finisher in the race history.

The remedial and sports masseur has competed for Great Britain in six disciplines in running and cycling.

Lightfoot, a Cumbrian firefighter 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 fell running champion, and his wife, Deborah, now run a catered Alpine chalet at Savoie in the French Alps.

Another former winner Colin Robinson, of Rochdale Harriers, who set a time of 2 hours 44 minutes 44 seconds 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 Burnley's 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.

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 27,000 feet of elevation change.

Three Peaks innovations for 2019 include £100 spot prizes for 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.