Sunday, the 8th of October, saw the return of The Chawton House Challenge. Co-organised by Alton Runners with local charities Cardiac Rehab and Chawton House. The event aimed to raise money for both charities and highlight the importance of staying active.
Set in the parklands of Chawton House, families were graced with weather that echoed a summer's day and enjoyed several activities, including a yoga session, a six-mile race route around the gardens and historic house, a well-being walk and a fancy-dress children's race. There was also entertainment from Alton’s Rock Choir and traditional lawn games for families to participate in.
Race director Philip Scrase was kept busy on the day, having organised the run route and a team of volunteers to direct runners and manage parking. One of the most vital jobs was to lead the children around the 2k course, starting in the top park and finishing in front of the house, a challenge accepted happily by second race director Richard Taylor. He commented, “I was hoping to lead the children's race on my electric skateboard – referred to as the ‘hoverboard’ – to save my legs for the adult's race. Unfortunately, due to a flat battery, I had to run ahead instead, only to realise I had some serious competition. Fello running club member Rich’s daughter left me for dust! Fortunately, she had no trouble following the route, so I could check on the other runners and cheer from the sidelines.”
The 10k route took runners from the top park into neighbouring Manor Farm in Farringdon before returning to the grounds through the sheep field and receiving a bespoke medal to celebrate their success. The first male to cross the line was James Perrett, who set a new course record by 21 seconds and completed the race in 39 minutes and 53 seconds. The first female was Keela Forrester, who completed the race in 50 minutes and 53 seconds.
Race Director Philip Scrase said, “We were fortunate with the weather, though it was a bit warm. We have had good feedback from the runners who enjoyed the course and being able to run in areas around Chawton House that are not normally open to the public. I want to thank the volunteers from Alton Runners who helped set up the course and marshal and my co-race director Richard Taylor for all his work on the event.”
Richard seconded this, saying, “ It always impresses me how fun and friendly volunteer-run events are, especially when you’re part of the team. There is a high level of camaraderie, which is immensely satisfying. Furthermore, the outcome of raising funds for two commendable, local good causes, Cardiac Rehab and Chawton House, puts a cherry on the cake.”
All the organisers would like to thank Newbury Building Society, who provided four marshals, Charles Henry Estate Agent and Hoka Shoes for sponsoring the event. We would also like to thank the 3rd Alton Scouts, who marshalled the car park and also the water station at the 5k point.
The Cardiac Rehab Centre provides specialist exercise programmes for people who have had a heart attack and those at high risk of heart disease due to high blood pressure, diabetes, weight, or other factors. The charity, founded 40 years ago by Dr Hugh Bethell MBE, recently began to offer cancer rehabilitation.
Centre Manager Denise Ellis said, “Cardiac Rehab receives no statutory or NHS funding, and therefore, we rely heavily on community support to continue to offer our fantastic service to local people. We want to say a huge thank you to the Alton Runners for supporting our charity with The Chawton House Challenge and to Chawton House for hosting such a fabulous event.”
All proceeds from the event will be split between Chawton House and Cardiac rehab.