On a sunny Sunday (May 20th), 900 runners plus their friends and family came together at South Lane Meadow in Clanfield to race one of the five routes through the South Downs – 1k, 2k, 5k, 12k or 20k. Now in its third year, the Clanfield Challenge has become renowned for its friendly, family orientated event with its beautiful yet challenging routes through the stunning local countryside. The aim for event organisers (Clanfield Joggers, Serenity Digital, AdvanceSRM and Walker Accounting Services), is to promote health and wellbeing for all, whilst raising funds for local community projects.
Starting proceedings this year, and presenting winners with their trophies at the end, was Rebecca Stephens MBE, the first British female to conquer Mount Everest who was celebrating her 25th anniversary of achieving this remarkable feat. Speaking at the event, Ms Stephens said ‘It is just extraordinary to see everyone out and enjoying themselves and it’s a lovely atmosphere. Such good work as well, we all know that mind and body is really important, so this encourages people to work at it and keep fit. I think it’s a wonderful movement, with a lot of effort put in by the organisers.’
First to cross the line for the 5k men’s group was Richard Burch, from Catherington, who was encouraged to take part as both his children were participating too. ‘It was a very good event, tough course and the first mile was a killer! I’m not used to country events so I needed to be careful but I’m very competitive so once I got the chance to move from second to first, I took it. Well done to everyone who took part, especially in the heat.’
Also completing the 5k challenge were 13-year olds Faith Williams and Niamh Foley, who run every Saturday for fun and chose this as their first competitive run. ‘I quite liked going on the downhill bit and enjoyed competing against other people, especially at the end!’ said Faith.'
Neil Williams came first in the men’s 12k. Neil who runs with the Denmead Striders found the race ‘enjoyable, perfect conditions and an epic course’. He said he liked coming to this event, having attended two years ago, as ‘its good for the kids – my three year old ran the 1k without stopping, so is taking after me!’. Neil said he would be ‘back again next year’.
2018 marked the introduction of the new 20k route, to offer a greater ‘challenge’ for the more seasoned runner – first across the finish line for the men was Julian Manning, who won the 12k in the 2017 Clanfield Challenge. Julian runs four or five times a week and comes fresh from the London Marathon. ‘I like this sort of racing, cross country trail races, its my favourite sort of running and I like Butser – I do the Butser Challenge so it’s always fun trying to get up there!’
Crossing the line first for the ladies 20k was Emily Hutchinson, ‘I love it round here, hills are my thing and so anything involving up and down, I’m happy. My grandad lives nearby, I’m in the RAF and based about 20 miles away, any excuse to come down here and run – I love it! I did the local park run yesterday and got the female record for that too, which was great. I’m not a big fan of running through towns, I think its boring, I’d much rather look at the views – I’m a bit of a forest fairy when it comes to running!’ It’s a family affair for Emily as both her uncle and boyfriend also competed, ‘my uncle was right behind me and this is the first time I’ve ever beaten my boyfriend so I think he will be a bit grumpy when we go home! It’s an absolutely brilliant race, brilliant marshals, brilliant course, it’s fantastic.’
As a not-for-profit event, the Clanfield Challenge also raises much needed funds for local good causes. This year saw over £2,800 donated to local groups such as the Clanfield Junior School who were awarded £500 to cover the costs of installing a wheelchair accessible picnic bench for pupils. Juliet King works at the school and is Vice-Chair of the PTA, ‘We’re so grateful for opportunities like this to support our funding. It will be really nice for the children who are using wheelchairs that they are able to sit outside, with their friends and eat lunch just as everyone else can do.’
‘Twenty-six children from Clanfield Junior School took part in the race this year including Connor Moran who came third in the boys 2k. So we’re really proud of that. Its been a really good day and a brilliant community event’
Other beneficiaries included St James Church, Home Start Butser, Petersgate Infant School, Bluebell Wood, Elizabeth Foundation and Clanfield Youth FC.
Race Director, Ken Finlay from the Clanfield Joggers, summed up the day ‘It has been wonderful to see so many people take part in this year’s challenge and to have such a great community atmosphere at the event. It has become like one big annual family outing. I am especially pleased to see so many children running and having fun, and hearing the great comments from those taking part in the new 20k. This event has been designed by the community, for the community and we hope it will continue to grow over the coming years and inspire more people to get outdoors, to enjoy the stunning local scenery and have fun whilst getting fit.’
For more information on the Clanfield Challenge and to see race finish times for the 2018 run, visit www.clanfieldchallenge.co.uk and http://racetimingsolutions.racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16269&RId=899