Hopes for New Forest Marathon 2022 homecoming as Covid restrictions force relocation to St Giles House in Wimborne for second year running
THE New Forest Marathon’s organisers vowed it will return to the national park in 2022 as ongoing coronavirus restrictions again force its relocation.
For the second consecutive year, the popular event will be staged on the private estate at St Giles House in Wimborne over the weekend of Friday to Sunday 24th-26th September.
But Chris Farr and Andy Daish, directors at organiser ORA Events, are hopeful it could return to its usual venue of New Park showground in Brockenhurst next year.
Coincidentally, the distance between the two venues by road is 26.2 miles – the length of a marathon.
Concerns over increased visitor pressure on facilities, resources and natural habitat had prompted Forestry England’s national decision to not consider event applications for its national parks until August at the earliest.
Mr Farr and Mr Daish explained this date would not have allowed enough time to organise the marathon, resulting in continued uncertainty.
However, depending on government guidance by then, it is hoped that unlike last September spectators will be welcomed back to cheer on runners at the 6,000-acre estate.
As reported in the A&T, none were allowed to attend in 2020 to aid social distancing as more than 1,000 runners took part on-site, with another 71 completing their own virtual routes.
Despite the restrictions, the event was hailed a success, with widespread praise for Covid-secure measures which also included a socially distanced start.
Mr Farr said: “The decision to relocate for another year is the best solution in what are still very challenging times.
“It provides certainty to all our partners, runners and charities whilst protecting the very special environment that is the New Forest.
“Forestry England have been fully supportive with the decision for the return of the event in 2022 when it is hoped the Covid situation will have eased along with the pressures they’re currently facing.”
This year’s event will also feature food and drink traders, live music, camping, paddle boarding and children’s activities.
Mr Daish added: “The return of spectators, a full event village will bring that special New Forest Marathon atmosphere back for all those attending.
“We feel confident that we’ve structured the event in such a way that all necessary adaptions to adhere to government guidelines can be met creating another amazing event again this year.”