The inaugural Guildford Diocesan Running Festival, hosted by St Mary’s in Byfleet, took place recently, drawing entries from around 250 competitors of all ages. Almost £3000 was raised by those completing the race, with donations going towards Community Facility Funds and 15% for the Bishop of Guildford’s Foundation - helping the most disadvantaged in Surrey and North East Hampshire.
A fantastic team of almost 50 volunteers came together to make the event a success, marshalling, registering people and baking cakes. Even Nuffy the Bear took the time to join the runners and ensure that they were suitably warmed up and ready for the race.
A variety of races were available to runners – ranging from 5 – 10K – with 99% of the race being off road using the Wey Navigation and Basingstoke Canal towpaths.
Three vicars from across the Diocese raced, Rev Andrew Knowles, Vicar of St Mary’s Camberley, Rev Nick Sharpe, from St John’s Stoke, Guildford, (who won the Quicker Vicar prize in the 5k) and Byfleet’s John McCabe.
James Ross from Guildford, who took part in the 10k, said, “I had a really good time. A great route, great spirit, and lots of fun! And what beautiful weather!”
Byfleet Rector Revd John McCabe commented,
“Most of the year, the large field we have is relatively underutilised, apart from being a much appreciated open space for dog walkers, and we’re really excited to host an event here which brings so much fun and joy to so many people.”
The festival offered St Mary’s the opportunity to partner with local organisations and to cultivate new and exciting partnerships with the community. A local Christian organisation offered marshals and helpers and numerous companies supported the festival and donated prizes.
After the race briefing, Guildford’s Sports Ambassador and Camberley Youth for Christ’s Oli Deeks blessed all the runners for fun and speed. The competitors were then treated to a fun warm-up courtesy of Nuffield Health and Nuffy the Bear!
A new course record went to Duncan Woolmer in the 10k with a time of 34:30 and for the first time ever the top three in the men’s race finished ahead of the 40 minute mark.
In the women’s race first place finisher Niki Densley also set a course record, completing the race in a time of 40:54. In the 5k, a new course record for the men went to Paul Seuke who finished in 17:30 and the women’s record fell to Laura Robson who won handsomely in 20:38.
But many children also made a big impact with Alex Cobb age 13 running a first-ever timed race and coming home in a super-fast 22:35, and hot on his heels was Violet Beaumont age 11, finishing in the astonishing time of 22:37. The standout performance was that of Martin Sunderland age 13 and 3rd overall in the 5K at 18:45. Krista Lougher completed the event with her daughter Allyssa in a Mum-and-daughter finish at 34:10.
Donations are still being accepted - visit the BT Donate page to make a contribution.