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400 running pilgrims take part in ancient trail trials

Farnham Pilgrim Marathon shows its sunny side

There were more than 400 happy leaders and followers in the 11th annual Farnham Pilgrim Marathon and Half Marathon, promoted by the Rotary Club of Farnham Weyside, yesterday (Sunday 13 September). Glorious sunshine helped put a smile on everyone's face as 165 completed the full marathon in 7:20:00 and a further 236 finished the half marathon in 4:19:17.

One of the features of this highly-rated event was the very low drop out rate – with just five DNFs across both distances. It seems the 'Farnham Pilgrims' are a resolute bunch, despite the 2,489 feet of elevation in the full marathon as it wends its way along the ancient Pilgrims Way and over the picturesque and selfie-worthy North Downs from The Sands, Farnham.

Anything close to three hours is an impressive time for this marathon and four men went under 3:15. Last year's runner-up Rob Harkness (M40 Aldershot, 3:09:25) went one better this year. He had run 23 minutes faster in London Marathon last year to illustrate the strength-sapping effects of the Surrey Hills AONB, through which the course passes. 

Rob was joined under 3:15 by Haslemere Border AC teammates Luke Shearring (M40, 3:11:33) and Luke Brocks (3:12:39) plus M40 Lee Kuklinski (Wilts Police, 3:14:00).

The women's marathon was led by local veterans Katy Ward (W40 Haslemere Border, 3:30:30) and Farnham Runners' Sarah Hill (W45, 3:36:55) – the defending champion – and W45 Emma Pearson (3:43:07).   

The half marathon winners were Ryan O'Neill (unattached, 1:25:47) and W45 Debbie Mangan (Fleet & Crookham, 1:47:00) as more than 60 runners returned to The Sands inside two hours.

Farnham Pilgrim Marathon and Half Marathon was awarded the 'Best New Event' prize by Runner's World after the inaugural 2010 races and has been near the top in the awards list ever since. It is no ordinary trail run but more of a pilgrimage as it passes five churches, two Manor houses, an Abbey, ponds, rivers, old mills, vineyards and even llamas that can be seen on the marathon course! 

Full results can be viewed on runABC South race listing here

Image courtesy Farnham Pilgrim Marathon and Half Marathon on Facebook

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