MORE than 160 runners took part in this year’s 32nd Downland Challenge.
As well as the traditional 10k and 5k trail runs, for the first time in the event’s history a 500m and 1k race for children aged four to nine was also held on October 4.
The 500m boys’ race was won by Ralf Oborn of Medstead Primary School, followed by Cyrus Husain and Curtis Murray. The girls’ race was won by Julia Smykala (Holybourne Primary), with Sophie Prior in second and Isabel Soden third.
The one-kilometre boys’ race was won by Henry Driver (Bentley Primary), with Gus Osborn and Sam Williams in second and third respectively.
While the girls’ race was won by Emma Sinclair (also of Bentley Primary) with Safiya Husain and Florence Burbidge following her home.
Organisers said the new races “appeared to be a great success” and proved a popular addition to the event.
Alton runner Adam Stonehill said: “Sunday began as a typically crisp October morn, but the children’s event kicked off proceedings in fine form with great amounts of enthusiasm from participants and spectators alike, which summoned the sunshine for the main event.”
The 5k and 10k events were started by Alton mayor Pam Jones. Both races started and finished at Anstey Park where the runners received a “great reception” from the nearby rugby fans.
Race co-ordinators said the course conditions were “perfect” after the previous week’s dry spell.
Both the 5k and 10k races were highly competitive with narrow margins separating the leaders. Despite this, last year’s times remained untouched.
The overall winner of the 10k race was Tom Frost of Liss Runners in a time of 39 minutes 57 seconds. Alton’s very own Mr Stonehill was home just after in a time of 40.30, with Michael Richards (Farnham Runners) crossing the line shortly after in third place.
Mr Frost also won the Over 40 Veteran Men category, while Mr Stonehill took the Senior Men’s title. A special mention also went to Alton Runners’ Michael Pearce who was first in the Veteran 70+ Men Category.
The women’s 10k race was won by Charlotte Hanson in a time of 45.59. Second women home was Alton Runners’ Julie Humphries in 47.57 and third place was taken Caroline Chalk.
The 5k race was won by 14-year-old James Porter in a time of 19.23, followed 30 seconds later by Thomas Green.
All finishers were awarded medals and the top three in each category received a trophy from the mayor.
The School Team Trophy was won by Amery Hill.
Organisers Alton Runners and Alton Lions extended a “huge thanks” to Alton Rugby Club for the use of their facilities, St John Ambulance for being on standby, the Scouts who gave out the water at the finish and ran a food stall, as well as all those individuals who marshalled the route and helped in the finishing funnel. This race, they added, relies on the good will of a large number of volunteers.
* Alton Runners train on a Tuesday and Thursday evening from 6.45pm at Alton Sports Centre. All abilities are welcome, and a specialist beginner course to get into running before Christmas is also available. To join or for more details, visit altonrunners.co.uk.