Forest runners go the distance

By Mark Elson in Football

FOUR Forest runners took on an ultra-marathon and completed an astonishing 318 kilometres – a couple of miles short of 200 miles – between them.

Caroline Rickards and Sheralyn Turner took on the 53 kilometre (33 miles) challenge while Salli-Anne Millward and Neville Turner went twice as far, covering 106km (66 miles).

The members of the Forest of Dean Athletic Club covered the courses on the Isle of Wight in 10 and 18 hours respectively.

As if the distance wasn’t enough on its own, the races followed a cross country route including eroded costal footpaths, sand and shingle beaches, farm fields, woodlands and, in the case of the 106km runners, a large hill at 90km to climb at near midnight in the face of a cold wind blowing in from the sea.  

Despite such extreme challenges, all four runners completed the challenge with Caroline and Sheralyn finishing the 53 km race in 10 hours and 18 minutes taking 88th and 89th place out of a field of 288 while Salli-Anne and Neville completed the 106 km race in 18 hours and 20 minutes taking 90th and 91st place of 590 runners.

In addition Salli-Anne finished 17th in the women’s competition and that despite having twisted her ankle falling down a rabbit hole in the dark.

While Caroline is a newcomer to such extremes of athletics the other three runners have a history of extreme running with Neville and Sheralyn Turner having completed the London to Brighton 100K challenge in 2012 while Salli-Anne completed the Sahara Challenge in October 2016 – two marathons which have to be completed on consecutive days along the edge of the Sahara desert in Morocco.

Closer to home, the club held its Forest Mile which is a biannual event open to all-comers.

The mile is one of the hardest distances to run as it is beyond the 800 metres where a typical can continue to sprint but it is inside the five kilometres which starts to test endurance.

The home club’s Pete Woodward was the only runner to finish inside five minutes, completing the race in 4mins 54secs while Chloe Wheeler’s time was 5mins 59secs.

Sherryl Hall’s 6mins 38secs was not only fast enough to win the F50 race but also beat the winner in the younger F40 category.

Ten Forest of Dean runners made the short trip over the Wye for the Devauden 10K which takes place on scenic woodland tracks near Chepstow.

Cherry Fowler was first of 50 in the F35-49 class with a time of 47mins 37secs and was second of the 87 female runners overall.

Walter Leach was placed second out of 27 in the M50-plus class with a time of 48mins 58secs while Dan Sandford ran a very fast race to take third in a field of 55 in the M35-49 group in a time of 41mins 30secs.

All the FODAC runners completed this difficult race in under the hour with Mark Matthews finishing in 45mins 13secs, Ian Morgan 48mins 19secs, Debbie Stenner and Victoria Baker both finished in 51mins 10secs, Mark Williamson 53mins 33secs, Chris Munton 54mins 10secs and Sarah Bucknall 58mins 28secs.

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