Runners wanted for the first North Devon Marathon in two decades

THE first marathon to take place in North Devon for more than 20 years has been launched to help raise money for North Devon Hospice. It is being staged by the North Devon AONB in Woolacombe as part of its 50th anniversary programme and will take place on

THE first marathon to take place in North Devon for more than 20 years has been launched to help raise money for North Devon Hospice.

It is being staged by the North Devon AONB in Woolacombe as part of its 50th anniversary programme and will take place on June 27 with an option of full or half marathons

The start is at Woolacombe Green on the Esplanade and the gruelling figure of eight marathon route will take runners to Saunton and back - twice - while the half marathon requires "only" one lap!

A single lap of the route will involve an ascent of around 1,300 feet and cover a variety of terrain including roads and the coast path.

Race organiser Simon Oliver is seeking a maximum of 350 runners for this first year, with both individuals and teams invited to take part. Local companies are being invited to put forward runners and all are being encouraged to raise funds though sponsorship for the hospice.

"I have always found the coast path exhilarating to run and want to share the experience with more people," he said.

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"I've now put together this exciting course which I hope people will enjoy."

Rose Day, chairman of the AONB said they were delighted to be working with the hospice and also the National Trust - which owns about half the land - to stage the event and celebrate the AONB 50th anniversary.

"The unique beauty of the North Devon coast, together with the challenging nature of the route, will make the North Devon AONB Marathon an inspiring and memorable experience for all participants, and we look forward to it becoming an annual summer event," she said.

Ali Hunt at the hospice added: "The marathon is going to be a wonderful opportunity for us all living in North Devon to showcase some of our stunning coastal scenery, and to have the backing of AONB and the National Trust is great. North Devon Hospice cares for around 100 local people every day free of charge and events like this help to raise over �3 million each year, which is what we need to provide all of our specialist services.

"We are grateful to everyone for their support and look forward to a great day."

Application and sponsorship forms are currently available by contacting Simon Oliver on (01271) 870339 or email northdevonmarathon@northdevonhospice.org.uk. A dedicated website will be live shortly, but information is also available via www.northdevonhospice.org.uk.

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