MORE than 300 runners of all ages assembled in Alice Holt Forest to compete in the 2018 Alice Holt Forest races, organised by Farnham Runners.

The distances ranged from 10k for adults to 1k for juniors aged five to eight and enthusiastic support from their families made it a great day out, despite the gloomy morning that later gave way to steady rain.

Race director Craig Tate-Grimes worked tirelessly over many months to organise the event for the fifth time, along with the invaluable support of a large number of Farnham Runners members and supporters. Many gave up their own chance of running to marshal or officiate on the day. It was a huge club effort and all the work was rewarded as everything went according to plan.

The events could not go ahead without the support of sponsors.

This year, for the first time, Catch Resource Management, an IT recruitment company, sponsored the 5k and 10k races, while Trueman Letting Company were back after a few year’s break to sponsor the 3k and 1k races, in addition to the race numbers.

Philip Barker, founder of Catch Resource Management, is a Farnham Runners member and ran the 10k race along with three members of his family. Helping to present the prizes, he said: “The Farnham Runners’ Alice Holt races were fantastic. It’s a great course and was very well marshalled. There was a really strong turnout and it looked like everybody enjoyed themselves. I very much hope that this will encourage more people to start running on a regular basis.”

Geoff Brown was the race compere for the day.

A large proportion of entrants and prize winners were from local clubs, but some came from much further afield. The course had been set out on Friday night by Craig Tate-Grimes, Geoff Brown, Mike Dunkley, Ali Hardaway and Linda Tyler, and Mr Tate-Grimes got them on their way.

James Bracey took on the vital role of lead cyclist for all of the races, while Emma Dawson, Pauline Hamilton and Kate Townsend repeated their feat of last year by covering 14k by acting as “tail runners”.

Goody bags for the adult races included a colourful “buff” and some nutritional items donated by Cotswold Fayre. All the bags and some electrolyte tablets were provided by Alton Sports.

Fleet and Crookham AC (Douglas Smith, Jeffrey O’Connor and Dom Lobo) won the men’s team prize, while Farnham Runners secured the ladies’ (Sarah Hill, Emma Pearson and Kayleigh Copeland).

First to cross the line in the 10k race was Douglas Smith from Fleet and Crookham AC in 37 minutes 48 seconds. Not far back was Richard Singleton (Viceroys TC), who was the first in the M40 category in 37.57. Next was another local runner, Christopher Tizzard, from Blackwater Valley Runners in 38.06.

First lady home, by one minute, was Farnham Runners’ Sarah Hill, who finished fourth overall in an excellent 38.37, with Lesley Locks second lady and first F35 in 39.38. Third lady, all the way from Gloucestershire, was Fiona Blackmore in 42.21 (second F35).

Other category winners were Tom Frost (M50, 41.26), Andrew James (M60, 45.13), both from Liss Runners, and Terry Steadman (M70, 51.30, Farnham Runners).

Kay Copeland, of Farnham Runners, secured the F55 prize in 54.03.

Luke van Oudtshoorn won the 5k race by more than a minute in 15 minutes 22 seconds. Ten years ago, aged just six, he won the Alice Holt 1k, the first event where he showed potential. He has since gone on to represent England at cross-country and GB in triathlon.

Alastair Rushforth was first junior (13-15) in 18.16.

Overall ladies’ 5k winner, going one better than last year, was junior Genevieve Long, from Farnham, who recorded an excellent time of 21.10. Anna Culverwell was first in the senior category in 22.28.

There were some splendid times in the junior races and some previous winners were in action again. Olly and Aaron Webb repeated their one-two positions of 2017 in the 3k for eight to 12 year olds, Olly in 12.05 and Aaron on his heels in 12.16.

Last year’s female winner, Emmelaine Orbell (12.31), won again, and placed fourth overall, while Daniel Orbell won the 1k race in 4.13 with Julia Smykala repeating her victory of 2017 in 4.32, for fourth place overall.