More than 500 runners take up big challenge for charity

Paul Sargent, marathon winner
Paul Sargent, marathon winner

Sunday May 5 saw the annual Three Forts Challenge, a marathon running event organised by local Rotary clubs with 536 runners participating. The event is the combined work of several Rotary clubs: Worthing Steyne, Worthing, West Worthing and Steyning & Henfield. Money is raised for the Ferring Country Centre.

The Three Forts Challenge is one of the most gruelling of Marathon Races. Slightly longer than the standard marathon, it is routed around the old Iron Age forts of Cissbury, Chanctonbury and Devil’s Dyke, involving several steep climbs which make it doubly punishing.

For those who find that daunting, there is a shorter but still exceptionally challenging half marathon route. Equal numbers of 268 runners participated in each race.

BBC weather girl Kaddy Lee-Preston was also a participant and walked the half marathon in 4 hours and 15 minutes in training for her next challenge, to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for education in the nearby villages.

The marathon started at 10.00 am and the half marathon at 10.30 am. Conditions were ideal for the runners with a dry cool day, overcast for much of the time.

The Mayor of Worthing Cllr Charles James and the Mayoress Pauline James were on hand to greet the returning runners and award the trophies. The winners of the marathon were - Paul Sargent who took the men’s shield in 3 hours 17mins and Edwina Sutton who took the women’s shield in 3 hours 38mins.

The half marathon was won by John Bess who took the men’s shield in 1 hour 26mins and Sally Norris took the women’s shield in 1 hour and 43mins.

Race director Mike Airey said: “We are delighted to see so many participants who subject themselves to this cross-country challenge, some doing it year after year. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the many Rotarians, the helpers from Ferring Country Centre and the members of the local Running Clubs who gave up their day to help marshal and administer the event.”

Committee chairman Allen Green added: “Thanks should also go to the many organisations who donated refreshments for the runners and other goods and the volunteers who provided the after race massage facilities for the runners.

“We expect to be able to make a donation in the region of £7,000 to the Ferring Country Centre. The centre is a local independent charity that provides meaningful training and work experience for people with learning difficulties. Their clients develop work and social skills by assisting us with the operation of a Garden Centre, a Riding Therapy Unit, the Café and a small animals farm.”