SOUTH DORSET CROSS COUNTRY MARATHON

Challenge 2012 Marathon

The inaugural Hanger’s Heroes ‘Challenge’ Cross Country full & half Marathon took place in near-perfect still and clear weather conditions on Sat 16 Sept.  The event started and finished at West Fleet Farm in Chickerell – Weymouth.  The undulating course is exclusively off-road and predominantly follows national trails and bridal paths, whilst incorporating over 2300 feet of climbs.  The key difference about this particular full and half marathon was the requirement to self-navigate the route, although some markers are positioned throughout the course to assist the runners.

The combined small and hardy field of competitors headed out simultaneously on the first leg along the famous Fleet towards Abbotsbury Swannery, monastery and St Katharines Chapel.  The runners were quickly exposed to fabulous scenery and, once settled into their rythym, soon started to stretch out.

The second leg includes a lovely loop around the outskirts of Abbotsbury, a short stint over shale on The Fleet and a particularly tough, thigh burning short climb out of the village onto the ridgeline toward the half marathon finishing point, and full marathon refreshment stop, at Hardy’s Monument.  This is the highest point on the course at 772 ft.  First to the top and men’s half marathon race winner was Chris Penny in a time of 2:20 hrs.  The ladies half was won by Michelle Caines in 2:29 hrs.  On arrival at the checkpoint all half marathon runners were soon treated to a well earned, hearty lunch and delicious home-made cakes.

Unfortunately for the rest their work was only half done and they had to plod on.  Although I’m sure that a few chose to grab a little something on the way through.  By now Jase Douglas, the race organiser, had clocked up a healthy lead, passing through the halfway point in 2:08 hrs, quickly followed by Tony Flattery (2:12 hrs) and Jeremy Taylor and Bernard Genge (2:13 hrs).  The first ladies through were Sharon Sullivan (2:28 hrs), followed by Helen Ryder, Lisa Hewitt and Ellen Cottom (3:07 hrs).

From here the field followed the easterly rolling ridge-line before dropping down the valley to the Wishing Well at Upwey (18 miles). By now legs were beginning to tire but there was some escape at the site of the ‘Challenge’ Walk entrants, a concurrent sister event which heads in the opposite direction over a slightly modified and shorter route.

From Upwey, another short, steep climb back up out of the valley onto the opposite, westerly ridge-line took the runners out to Corton Gap.  This is the third and final course check-point and water stop at the 21 miles point with no change in the men’s and women’s race standings.

The final push to the finish at West Fleet Farm took the runners through Buckland Ripers and on to the outskirts of Chickerell.  A last loop around the Fleet led the field to the final ascent of the day, a steady mile long climb up to the finish and the opportunity to enjoy a well earned hot meal at the Farm having climbed a mightily impressive total of 2425 feet. First over the line was Jase Douglas (4:30 hrs) followed by Tony Flattery (4:46 hrs) and Jeremy Taylor and Bernard Genge (4:53 hrs).  Sharon Sullivan was the ladies race winner (6:29 hrs) with Helen Ryder, Lisa Hewitt and Ellen Cottom all finishing the race together (6:48 hrs).

A special mention goes to Barry Light who, in a bid to raise serious money for a number of charities, is aiming to complete 60 marathons in 60 weeks at the age of 60!  The ‘Challenge’ Marathon was, incredibly, his 37th event and we at Hanger Heroes wish him the very best of luck in achieving this hugely impressive goal.  Finishing in 6:48 hrs, Barry was soon preparing for his next race, the Purbeck Marathon the following day!!

Congratulations and thank you to all of those who took part.  We look forward to seeing you all at next year’s event.

Leave a Reply