Haslemere Border Athletic Club members take on challenges across the country

The South Downs Way came alive with the sight of the Haslemere Border Runners who, if not running, could be spotted gathering and looking out in the glorious June sunshine.

For two athletes in particular, their morning on Saturday June 11 had already started in the very early hours in Winchester as they were both competing in the Centurion SDW 100.

It crosses the South Downs Way, only in the opposite direction to those running in the South Down Trail events.

Tom Millns and Luke Brocks had taken on the inaugural challenge, which crosses the Chalk Rideway just outside Winchester – the capital of Saxon England – before heading east to the finish in Eastbourne.

During the race, riders not only tackle just 100 miles – and 12,700 feet of elevation – but they’re also tasked with a total of 95 gates and/or uprights to open and climb along the way!

There is a 30 hour limit to complete the race. Both runners finished victorious in 22:43.16 and received their prestigious Centurion Medal for their effort.

On the same day, and at the same location, a number of runners were competing in the South Downs Trail Half Marathon and 10K event.

Both races started in the beautiful setting of Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Petersfield and took runners to join the South Downs Way on a network of bridleways through the stunning rolling hills and wooded countryside.

The 10k runners then separated on the Staunton Way and raced to join the South Downs Way at Buriton Gate before returning to Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

Hesta Gillham rode a superb run to pick up the second lady in 52.09.

She was followed by her regular running buddy Gemma Reeder who also ran very well with a time of 1:02.24, an excellent time on a tough course.

The half marathon was a grueling challenge, through the Surrey Hills in scorching heat, but that didn’t deter Susie Adams with a time of 1:58.24.

The following day saw new HBAC activity, and kicking off the day was Paul Seymour, who had taken on not one challenge but three separate disciplines, competing in the Mid Sussex Triathlon.

The morning started with a 400m swim, followed by a 30km bike ride and a 5km run, all while being timed with each change, changing shoes and adjusting the helmet!

Paul completed each activity in impressive times – swim (5.50), bike (44.40) and run (20.17, PB) – which also earned him third place overall and a victory in the age group…as well as a recipient of a hand- made wooden medal.

A little further on, another HBAC runner launched yet another ultra challenge by participating in the Big Sea 50 on the beautiful Isle of Purbeck in the heart of Dorset.

The race is part of the Classic Element: Air, Fire, Water and Earth series and this event was all about ‘water’ with runners starting and finishing their race on the soft sandy beaches of Knoll in Studland.

Dean Kellaway was all set in his trusty sun hat and up for the challenge, which took runners up the Purbeck Hills, passing some of Dorset’s finest landmarks and historic buildings – including the village of Corfe Castle – before returning to the beach for the finish.

What a day by the sea! With glorious sunshine – albeit a rather warm temperature for running – Dean rode a superb race in a time of six hours, finishing in the top ten.

Also on Sunday morning, HBAC runner Steve Loveday was throwing himself into his first-ever ultra race and his challenge was the grueling Race to the Kings 50k, which starts at Glorious Goodwood.

The runners left the prestigious show ground for the charming village of Arundel, with a view of the historic castle that towers above. Then it was into the hills of the South Downs, enjoying the picturesque views on what was truly a beautiful summer’s day, before heading back to Goodwood for the finish.

Steve rode a fantastic race and finished with an impressive time of 8:34.36.

HBAC runners also love to socialize – and what better than a visit to the pub, which is exactly what a group of over 30 runners did for the second Trail Adventure.

It was plotted and directed by Dean Kellaway, starting and ending at the Rising Sun pub in Milland.

The route was about five miles long and featured not one, not even two, but 15 uprights, as well as various animals including llamas, sheep, a rather frisky horse or two, and a few cows.

This was followed by a drink, a meal and a conversation to end a fabulous evening!

The following day saw the return of the popular Elstead Marathon, now in its 110th edition.

The annual fundraising event for Elstead Scouts took runners along a challenging five-mile course, through woodland, moorland and farmland, and ended with the infamous crossing of the river.

Club member Steve King organized a team of HBAC runners to compete in the event, which saw club coach Daniel Allaway bring the team home in 33.45, followed by Josh Wreford (34.47 ), Sarah Smith (39.38), Lawrie Baker (39.50), Katie Simmonds (42.05), Stephen Sutton (44.45), Paul Fleming (45.37), John W Dickinson (46.40), Dudley Walker (47.26), Steve King (47.29), Dave Bateman (49.27), Louise Bampton (52.16), Tom Bampton (52.16), Steph Moss (52.40), Lauren Blatherwick (52.41), Karen Sinclair (56.14), Sam Walker (58.14), Lorraine Herring ( 1:02.59), Ann Varnes (1:03.03), Helen Crainey (1:03.26), Yve Gilding (1:04.07) and Dave Card (1:09.34).

Despite the river crossing, everyone enjoyed the run, with many enjoying barbecue and liquid refreshments afterwards at the local hostelry.

The weekend also saw others take part in a number of challenging events.

The Cotswold Way served as the setting for the Race to the Tower, a 52.4 mile course along the Cotswold Way.

It’s a mix of wooded trails, grassland and gravel tracks and plenty of kissing gates, stiles and swing gates to tackle on the course and the final climb to the finish line at the Broadway Tower.

James Turner, who was taking part in his first ultra, finished the course with his elevation gain of 2,423 m in an incredible time of 11:33.39.

As James competed in the Cotswolds, Karen Sinclair and Steve Taylor headed to Dorset and the charming village of Sydling St Nicholas, a stone’s throw from the famous Cerne Abbas giant.

The race itself was Giant’s Head’s inaugural half marathon – to complement the long-established full marathon – which made it even more special for the runners who participated.

And they were indeed treated to a tough race, with spectacular views and weather.

Steve finished in 2:01 and Karen in 2:47, and both were rewarded with a unique medal and a matching t-shirt depicting the famous ‘giant’.

Runners were also invited to a Sunday roast and an evening barn dance – if they still had energy in their legs!

Despite the tough hills, Karen said she would definitely return to take on the Cerne Abbas giant.

The Eton Dorney Olympic venue served as the setting for Polly Rogers Dixon as she competed in the sprint triathlon.

The site offered an idyllic triathlon environment with clean, clear water and flat, gated courses.

The sprint triathlon involved a 750m swim, a 19.2km run and a 5km run, and Polly finished the events in an excellent overall time of 1:20:54, with 17.38.2 swim splits , T1 1.36, cycle 36.50.2, T2 57.5 and run 23.51.8.

The excellent time ensured Polly the sixth lady overall and first place in her category, an incredible 12 minutes ahead of the second lady.

Philomel Bennett and Ann Varnes

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