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Fun run started as part of church event still going strong after 30 years
When the Bishops Cannings 5,000-metre dash takes place for the 30th time on Saturday, July 14, it will confirm its status as the longest consecutively held sports event in the county.
Others, like the Devizes to Westminster canoe race, have longer pedigrees, but they have not taken place in some years.
The idea for the run came from founders Francis Godd-ard and Robin Myerscough.
Mr Goddard, a former solicitor and now a judge, said: “I started running in Australia in 1982 and when I came back, Robin and I were discussing what event we could organise for the church fete in Bishops Cannings.
“We thought that a 5k fun run would be a good idea.”
The first run was just that – for fun – but in 1983 they started taking it a bit more seriously and it attracted 50 runners from across the district.
Initially the course took in the canal towpath and roads around Horton, but the traffic started to make it too risky to continue.
In 2000, the course was changed to take in its current challenging route over the Downs. Many setting off confidently are shocked to be confronted by a steep climb before plunging back down towards the village and the sight of the finish line.
The race’s new website – bishopscannings5000m.org.uk – features a roll of honour in which users can read about previous winners.
The race has been won most times by Mark Anderson. He finished first eight times, between 1990 and 2000, with Derek Stevens winning five times, the first time in 1988. He is still running, now as a veteran.
The course record is held by Alasdair McClean-Foreman in 18 minutes 21 seconds, set in 2005, and the women’s record is held by Amy Stiles, 19.36, set in 2004.
The hot favourite this year is Simon Nott, who has won twice before in 2009 and 2010, but he will face stiff competition from last year’s winner Sam Pictor.
Mr Goddard said: “It is great to think the race is still going strong 30 years later, but it does have its own momentum. Every penny raised goes to the church. After all, the dash is still part of the church fete.”
Entry forms can be downloaded from the website and entry is also available on the day.