15 October 2013

Runners endure Spartan trials for wildlife charity

Bev Jacobs, representing GWCT Berkshire, jumps over fire as part of the gruelling 5km Spartan raceOne of the UK's most respected wildlife charities is hoping to receive a boost in funding after competing in the world-famous Spartan Challenge this September.

Out of an estimated 1500 runners, 24 competed on behalf of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) at the West Midlands Water Ski Centre in Warwickshire over the weekend of 21 and 22 September. Most took part in the 5km race on the Sunday, a gruelling ordeal that involved obstacles such as jumping over fire, wading through rivers and crawling under barbed wire on top of the lengthy run. However, four brave competitors from Buckinghamshire and Suffolk volunteered for the evening more exacting "Spartan Beast" - the 12km challenge that took place on Saturday 21.

Between them the GWCT team represented 8 different counties, each competing to see which could raise the most sponsorship money for the Trust. Sponsorship remains open until Thursday 31 October 2013, and the GWCT hopes to raise at least £11,000 from the race - almost double what they achieved in the 2012 Spartan race. The county team that raises the most sponsorship will win an elite sporting prize for their county.

Originally GWCT national events organiser Mel Dellow had hoped that up to 36 runners would take part, but the numbers fell dramatically in the week leading up to the race, a fact she attributes to the Spartan challenge's daunting reputation. Mel said, "The Spartan challenge is one of those tests that rapidly sorts the men from the boys!"

Among the notable GWCT competitors were Hertfordshire's Jason Noy, who completed the 5km race just 9 minutes after the overall winner! Mel herself represented Suffolk alongside GWCT fundraiser Lizzie Herring, who took part in the Elite heat on the Sunday morning alongside the most experienced and competitive racers and completed the course in 1 hour and 36 minutes. However, there was disappointment for local entrant Daisy Kendry, who intended to run for Warwickshire but was unable to compete due to injury.

Thomas Hoblyn, who ran in the Spartan Beast for the Hertfordshire team, summed up the competitors' feelings when he said, "It was a privilege to do the run for such a worthy cause and I would happily do it again - once the scars have healed."

The GWCT Spartans were cheered on by supporters from all around the country, including a number of younger runners who took part in the special children's race on Sunday 22.

To sponsor a GWCT Spartan please visit www.gwct.org.uk/spartan, where payments can be made online or sponsorship forms downloaded, by Thursday 31 October. For more information about the Spartan race, please contact Mel Dellow by email at mdellow@gwct.org.uk or call 07738 320339.


Photocaption: Bev Jacobs, representing GWCT Berkshire, jumps over fire as part of the gruelling 5km Spartan race.

Photocredit: Jon Farmer Photography.

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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