FELL runners, multiple-marathon runners and international entrants are among those to have signed for this Sunday s North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Marathon - the first to take place in the area for nearly 30 years. The natural beauty of

FELL runners, multiple-marathon runners and international entrants are among those to have signed for this Sunday's North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Marathon - the first to take place in the area for nearly 30 years.

The natural beauty of the race route, centred around Woolacombe, has brought an overwhelming response from runners in the UK and from abroad, with the race long since full up. Four hundred places were made available, but that has now been stretched to more than 450.

The event is being organised to raise money for North Devon Hospice by Simon Oliver of St John's Garden Centre, himself a keen runner around the Woolacombe area.

"A few months ago this was just an idea in my head and I never imagined that we could attract over 400 runners," he said. "It's just a shame that we can't take more, because people are contacting me every day. However, after this overwhelming response we will definitely do it again next year, so people will get another opportunity to take part."

Runners will be coming from all over the world to compete in this first-time event.

"We have runners from as far afield as the USA, South Africa and Tanzania, so it is fair to say there will be a strong international showing at the event," he said. "The quality of the runners from the UK is also very high. The holy grail for distance runners is to be part of the 100 Club, which means you have completed over 100 marathons. We have a lady who will be taking part in her 100th marathon and it will be nice to share that with her. We also have entrant Roger Biggs, who is famous in the running world as he has completed an incredible 530 marathons! The challenging course has also attracted a lot of hardcore Fell runners from areas such as Yorkshire, which is great to see."

Alison Heiman from North Devon AONB said: "We try to encourage people to come and enjoy beautiful areas such as Woolacombe, Croyde and Mortehoe. These runners will be in for a real treat as the landscapes and views they will be taking in throughout the race will be just breathtaking. We are also proud to be part of this event because it raises money for North Devon Hospice. The work they do in this area is absolutely vital.