Three forts challenge in Worthing is country’s toughest

James Walker receiving his trophy from Ann Barlow
James Walker receiving his trophy from Ann Barlow

RUNNERS were encouraged to “go the extra mile” in one of the toughest physical and mental challenges in the country.

The Three Forts Challenge saw nearly 300 people running 27.2 miles from the Rotary playing field in Worthing, past three Iron Age hill forts, and back to the start – with 3,450 feet of climbs in the middle.

The event, on Sunday (May 6), known infamously as “the tough one”, was arranged by the Rotary clubs of Worthing, Worthing Steyne, Storrington and Steyning and Henfield.

Despite poor weather conditions, 293 people crossed the finish line. The course also offers a half-marathon.

James Walker, of Steyning Athletic Club, won the half marathon with a time of 1hr 23min, and said: “It’s a challenging race, and with the weather we had on Sunday it was one of the muddiest I have ever encountered.

“It really tests the legs. The third mile I did in about 4mins 50sec. I just put my head down and didn’t look back.”

The 38-year-old is manager of the acute medical unit at Worthing Hospital, and added: “I generally run to work, which keeps me fit and ready to run.

“I will do it again next year and, hopefully, I will never stop running.”

Chris Mallinson, of Brighton and Hove City Athletic Club, won the full marathon with a time of 3hrs 19min.

Chairman of the organising committee Allen Green said despite a “few little niggles” the race was a success.

He added: “Everything went excellently. It’s almost nothing but praise on the website. We were absolutely delighted with the way it turned out.

“Given the weather conditions, it was a really good turn-out.”

Allen said the event raised in excess of £10,000, and they hope to give about 75 per cent of this to the Ferring Country Centre in Rife Way, Ferring, providing work experience for adults with learning difficulties.

He said: “Last year, we gave them £5,000 and we predict we’re going to be able to give them a sizeable increase on that.

“There were a few minor niggles. We’re always very conscious that we can’t sit back on our success.

“Overall, it was far better than we have had before.”