Runners young and old line up for 2021 New Forest Marathon races at St Giles House in Wimborne
RUNNERS of all ages and abilities lined up for various distance races at this year's relocated New Forest Marathon.
Although the race organisers have said the marathon will return to the New Forest Park Showground in Brockenhurst next year, the race was held in Dorset for the second consecutive time after Covid restrictions forced its relocation.
All routes started and finished at St Giles House in Wimborne and traversed the heart of the 6,000-acre estate. The multi-terrain courses offered a wonderfully scenic running experience, with a blend of compact gravel, woodland trail sections, farm tracks, grass and tarmac.
The highest-placed local runners in the marathon were a father-and-daughter pair from Hardley Runners, Matthew and Poppy Tanner. Poppy crossed the line as the third-placed woman in a time of 3:47:34, while Matthew finished eighth in 3:33:32.
Nicholas Latty won the overall marathon by more than 28 minutes with a time of 2:54:51. Freddie Line took second with Paul Withyman in third.
The rest of the women's podium included winner Hannah Bliss, who finished almost two minutes ahead of Ellie Duncalfe in 3:46:53.
This year, athletes lined up at the start line in groups of 50 for races ranging from a woodland walk, junior 200m and mile races, and 5k, 10k, half and full marathon.
Many runners used the event to raise money for selected charities, especially pertinent this year with many struggling for funding following the cancellation of various fundraisers.
Julian Smith, who plays for New Milton Eagles, went the extra mile this year and signed up for the 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon. After the gruelling effort, he said: "Well, I did it! I'm not sure how, but I did.
"I felt relaxed about the first day with the 5k and marathon and was more nervous about day two with the 10k and half-marathon.
"I had planned to run the 5k in 30-35 minutes, so I hoped I hadn't gone too early when I finished in 26:46.
"A running friend, Stuart French, joined me for the marathon. However, I genuinely struggled as my legs got progressively more painful as the run went on. However, Stuart and I chatted all the way around, the views were awesome, and the race marshalls and volunteers were fantastic."
Smith, who raised £200 for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Southampton Hospital with a guess-the-time sweepstake, is also raising money for Oakhaven Hospice and Supershoes. So far, he has raised £396.20. His employer, HSBC, has pledged to match the donations up to £500 – to help him reach his target, visit virginmoneygiving.com/JulianSmith
Smith added: "I promised myself that I would run on the flat and downhill sections of the Sunday races and walk all the hills. I stuck to that plan in the 10k and got round in 1:10:15.
"I was joined by Jo Squibb, her sister Julie, plus friends Hannah and Marcia, for the half-marathon. And just before we set off, Tom and Hazel – two of the people I am fundraising for – arrived to cheer me on. I had no idea they were coming, but I knew that I would finish the race as soon as I saw them.
"I wanted to thank organisers Chris Farr and Andy Daish for making me feel so special for attempting this challenge. They talked about it all weekend, and it was great to see people's reactions to the challenge.
"I cannot thank South Coast RX Physiotherapy enough for the massages after every race."
BBC Radio Solent's Pat Sissons signalled the start for the 10k and half marathon races.