FOREST of Dean Athletic Club’s Marcus Bennetto was the first local runner home in this year’s Spring Trails Half Marathon on Sunday (March 24).

Some 940 competitors left the Speech House on a route slightly amended at the request of Forestry England because of wildlife concerns.

The route around the seven mile mark at Serridge was changed to take on a section of the Wysis Way.

The race, organised annually by the Rotary Club of the Royal Forest of Dean, is run under UK Athletics' rules and is intended for serious competition runners as well as recreational runners. The Trail Running Association have adopted this race to be the British Trail Running Championships Short Distance event.

Marcus Bennetto’s time of 1:19:55 put him 11th overall and 9:51 behind winner Lee Gratton of Rugeley Runners who made it two wins in succession in the Forest.

The Staffordshire runner’s time of 1hr 10mins 4secs also beat his own course record and put him 37 seconds ahead of second placed Jacob Tasker of Ogmore Phoenix of South Wales and Ben Robinson of Bristol and West in third.

The first Forest of Dean woman to cross the finish line was Katie Waller in a time of 1:33:18 which was 10th in the female race and 55th overall.

Scout Adkin of Ambleside Athletic Club in Cumbria was the first woman across the line in 1:19:01.

In team competition, which is determined using the finishing positions of each club’s top three competitors, Forest of Dean Athletic were second behind Lliswerry Runners from Newport.

The two other Forest runners whose places contributed to the ranking were Jake Parsons who was 27th in the men’s category 1:27:23 and Philip Pichon whose time of 1:35:24 put him in 56th.

The women’s team of Amy Freeman, Joni Tingle and Annette Canning were fifth. Amy was 16th in 1:38:34, Joni was 51st in 1:52:20 and Annette 59th in 1:55:18.

A spokesman for the Rotary Club of the Forest of Dean said: The Spring Trails Half Marathon this year had 940 registered competitors enjoying our forest trails. 

“The course was muddy, but not too muddy, and the conditions were perfect for running.

“A slightly modified course this year at the request of Forestry England worked well. “Starting at 10:00 sharp, the first mile ran along the road towards the Barracks until turning right into the forest and down to the Cannop valley. The rest of the 13.11-mile half marathon course was entirely on forest trails, finishing on Speech House field. “In addition to winners' trophies, the Rotary Club of the Royal Forest of Dean, who organised the event, awarded medals to all finishers. 

“The Trail Running Association also provided their first, second and third place medals for both male and female categories. The funds raised by this race go to support many local charities, while many runners are running for their own charities, too. 

“The Club is proud to be able to support the Forest community and the funds raised by the Rotary Forest of Dean Half Marathon enables it to do so with real purpose.  “The Club would like to congratulate all those who ran, helped towards the event and those who made the day a success. “We can now look forward to the next event: the Autumn half marathon and 5k run on Sunday 29th September 2024.”

Other local finishers included: Max Eckert (1:28:36), Robert Freeman (1:43:07), Colin Parry (1:46:24), Julian Boon (1:47:29), Owen McLaughlin (1:49:48), Vince Edwards (1:55:43), Jim Storrar (1:56:19), Glen Meek (2:03:41), Debbie Jefferies (2:04:31), Anna Freeman (2:07:37) Paul Dekkers (2:13:19), Melinda Ruck (2:13:51), Lynn Moore (2:25:45), Debbie Green (2:30:34), Joel Freeman (2:34:46).