Runners and walkers prepare for the Belvoir Challenge

This month sees the return of The Belvoir Challenge in its familiar and traditional one day format after the COVID hiatus of 2021.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 9:40 am
Participants start out in the Belvoir Challenge EMN-210525-092912001

The event, which has been running for more than 30 years, attracts participants from all over the world and there will be a big turnout on Saturday, February 26.

The first Challenge took place in 1990 and since then it’s gone from strength to strength; in 2019 The Belvoir Challenge was listed by Red Bull as the 7th best marathon in the whole of the UK.

It’s a valuable fundraiser for Harby Primary School, with participants starting and finishing from the nearby village hall, whether they are completing the 15 mile or the 26 mile routes.

Organised by the Friends of Harby School, preparations started back in September 2021 for an event which is a huge logistical challenge for a small village primary school.

The runners and walkers can look forward to plentiful homemade cakes, traybakes, sandwiches, sweets and even local Stilton at the checkpoints dotted around the route.

When they pass over the finishing line they will be treated to hot soup and a bread roll, followed by homemade puddings such as apple crumble, bread and butter pudding, all served with lashings of hot custard.

It’s a big ask for the parents of the school as it requires 2400 portions of cake, 1500 sandwiches and 800 portions of pudding and custard.

The route will pass along footpaths, byways, tracks and minor roads throughout the Vale of Belvoir, and with the permission of the Duke of Rutland, on land through the Belvoir Estate.

So far over 1000 people are taking on the Challenge; there are still a few places available so check to reserve your place quickly before it sells out.

This year sees some changes to ensure all participants are kept as safe as possible.

Marquees have been hired to help with social distancing both before and after the event.

Everyone will be asked to lateral flow before they go. There is a complimentary park and ride service from just outside the village and face masks should be worn on the buses.

The Challenge raises much needed funds for the children of Harby Primary School. It pays for educational resources such as books, tablet computers, outdoor play equipment and subsidises school trips, plus lots more.

Head teacher Bridget Bye said: “It’s a really big community event and the children are very passionate about it. The school children play their part and create posters to cheer everyone on and design certificates for the finishers.”

Louisa Buck, Chair of The Friends of the School and parent commented: “It’s brilliant that we’re able to put on the Challenge in 2022 after a two-year break. We’re all really looking forward to another great day.”

Sarah Jackson, Secretary of The Friends of Harby School and parent said: “The cakes should be even better this year, as the lockdowns have given parents the opportunity to perfect their banana bread recipes! We’re hoping for plenty of mud this year. It’s what the Challengers seem to talk about the most.”

Over 1,000 walkers and runners will take part this year with school parents, grandparents, former pupils and parents, Harby villagers and local runners to help set up and staff registration, check points, car parks and marshal along the route.

The field sets off at 9am from Harby village hall. Local roads in and around the village will be busier than usual between 07:30 and 09:00.