Registration for the 2018 North Devon AONB Marathon and Half Marathon launched this week - but spaces are set to sell out quickly.

Next year’s North Devon AONB Marathon and Half Marathon was launched this week, with local runners encouraged to snap up their spot now, in a race that attracts national and international competitors.

Organisers and sponsors gathered on Woolacombe beach, which is the start and finish point of the course, to launch the event by creating a giant running shoe out of sand.

But getting sand in their shoes will be the least of concerns for runners taking part on June 24.

While the race takes place over multiple terrains – including sand, coastal paths and fields– it is the punishing hills that make the course so tough.

Race organiser Simon Oliver said: “Marathons and half marathons cover a substantial distance and many races struggle to make the route interesting or challenging.

“Our event does not have that problem, because it covers some of the most beautiful coast and countryside you could wish for.

“There’s never a dull moment as the next spectacular view is only just around the corner.”

Registration is now open for the race and raises funds for North Devon Hospice.

Headline sponsor, Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks, have been involved every year and say that the event is one the whole of North Devon can be proud of.

Rudi Lancaster, owner of Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many people from far afield come to the area for this race.

“To think that such a well-respected event is run purely by volunteers, and to raise money for our local hospice, says a lot about our local community spirit.”

Jess Burford-Redgrove, from the hospice’s fundraising team, said that the funds raised from the North Devon Marathon make a huge difference to the charity.

She said: “This is such a popular event, and every pound raised helps us care for local people going through the toughest of times.

“We care for patients and families affected by cancer and other life-limiting illnesses.

“But we rely on the support of local people to make this possible, and the funds raised from the North Devon Marathon are an important part of that.”

Visit www.northdevonmarathon.co.uk to enter the North Devon AONB Marathon or Half Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, June 24.