Horsing around for horseless steeplechase

This Is Wiltshire: David Coe, president of Swindon Phoenix Rotary Club Buy this photo David Coe, president of Swindon Phoenix Rotary Club

A HORSERACE minus faithful steeds was exactly what awaited challengers in Wroughton on Sunday.

Around 100 fundraisers tackled the Barbury International Horse Trials Course, with its array of obstacles, on foot, at the third annual Horseless Steeplechase staged by the Marlborough and District and Swindon Phoenix Rotary Clubs in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance and charity Greatwood.

While the weather held and the scenic route provided runners with plenty to feast their eyes on, the lack of a horsepower to carry them through the most daunting sections of the course, were heavily felt as they waded through water on their way to the finish line.

“This is our third year and we had more people taking part than the previous two years,” said lead organiser for the Swindon Phoenix club Geoff Beale.

“We are delighted. We need to get all the accounts in but last year we raised £2,800 and we expect £3,000 this year.

“I think people really enjoyed it. We even had a lady who was seven months pregnant running the 10 mile race. It’s a unique event in our area.”

The amount raised will be split evenly between the Air Ambulance and Greatwood, a charity which look after ex-racehorses and uses them to educate disadvantaged children and young adults with special educational needs.

Runners were given a choice of three races on the day - a 2.5 mile route for novices, 5-mile course for chasers and a brand new 10-mile cross country challenge for thoroughbreds.

While several had asked for a longer route to be introduced to the challenge last summer, they realised they might have bitten off more than they could chew as Sunday’s balmy temperatures took their toll.

Geoff, 49, of Stratton, said: “The people doing the ten-miler felt the heat a bit. It would have been easier on a horse!’’

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