15 April 2013

Sixty Spartans sought to sprint for wildlife charity

GWCT runners display their medals and their wounds after the 2012 Spartan Race (l to r: Oliver Hurlock, Ruth Elwood, Mel Dellow, Tom Windett, Kate Chapman and Amy Jones)One of the UK's leading wildlife charities is looking for runners to take part in a gruelling sponsored race to raise funds for its vital scientific research.

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is hoping to exceed its unprecedented success in last year's Spartan Challenge in Staffordshire. The Trust is now looking to recruit 60 volunteers to compete in the 2013 Midlands Spartan Sprint, which will take place on Sunday 22 September 2013. The runners will be split into county teams and the county that raises the most sponsorship for the Trust will win a 40-60 bird day for eight guns at Rotherfield, home of the GWCT's demonstration project in Hampshire.

This is the second year that GWCT teams will have competed in the gruelling Spartan Race, a 5km endurance test with the motto "Are you Spartan tough?" Obstacles on the course include jumping over fires, wading through water and mud, crawling under barbed wire or over ice, and rope-climbing over high walls.

Spartan Challenges have taken place in the UK, US and around the world. It is a measure of the high regard in which the GWCT and its research is held that the runners were willing to endure the trials of a race with such a formidable reputation. The Trust's national events organiser Mel Dellow took part in the 2012 race as part of the Suffolk county team. "2k into the run and trying to scale the fourth muddy climbing wall, I was concerned I might die," she recalls. "After half a mile of wading neck deep in a river, carrying 10kg bags of sand, jumping fire pits and crawling through mud, I rather hoped I would die!"

Daunting though it sounds, the organisers of the Spartan Sprint point out that "99.9% of all people who try this event will finish".

The GWCT's work has put it at the forefront of conservation in the UK. Its recent high-profile projects have included investigations into Salmon population decline, tracking the movements of the elusive woodcock by satellite tagging, and teaming up with French scientists in order to identify the best ways to protect vulnerable natural resources across Europe.

Ruth Elwood, another Suffolk runner, said "For us ‘ladies of a certain age’, it was a major achievement: to conquer the obstacles and combat fitness and strength together, whilst making it across the finish line in relatively good time.  We managed the challenge and had such fun in the process that we have volunteered to do it again this year."

The GWCT organises fundraising days and activities around the country, but the Spartan Race promises to be a highlight of their calendar. For more information or to volunteer please contact Mel Dellow on 0207 290 0110 or 07738 320339 or by email at mdellow@gwct.org.uk.


Photocaption: GWCT runners display their medals and their wounds after the 2012 Spartan Race (l to r: Oliver Hurlock, Ruth Elwood, Mel Dellow, Tom Windett, Kate Chapman and Amy Jones).

Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

ISDN radio broadcast line – at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.

For information, contact:
Kate Williams
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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