It may have been the final weekend before Christmas but almost 200 enthusiastic runners plus support crew, race promoters and officials, managed to escape the shopping frenzy long enough to participate in and organise the Saxons, Vikings and Normans Marathons and Challenges on the Kent coast.
First event on a hectic weekend for one of Britain's busiest organisers of themed marathon events, with more than 70 runs in an extensive portfolio, was the Saxon Shore Marathon and Viking Coastal Challenge at Deal on Saturday (22 December).
This race features a 5.24 mile out and back circuit on the Saxon Shore Way at Deal seafront. Runners may opt for any distance but the main events are the five-lap Saxon Shore Marathon and six-lap Viking Coastal Challenge ultra for an enhanced medal and goody bag.
The 31.5 mile Challenge winners were Wil North (4:56:28) and an hour later Fiona Caldwell (5:56:24). A mere marathon sufficed for the majority of the 100-plus field, headed by Robbie Higgins (3:11:52) and joint ladies winners Elisa Ellis and Megan Bates (3:34:31).
The following morning the action moved to picturesque Ramsgate and the historic Viking Coastal Trail which gives rise to the eponymous Viking Coastal Marathon, this time based on a 4.37 mile course – six laps to the marathon. An unusual feature is the stone 'grotto' through the cliffs (pictured) which the course runs both through and over on each lap.
The winner, Lee Rogers, was well clear with the sole sub-3-hour result of the weekend (2:54:17) and the women's winner was Chantal Compte (4:13:09), who displayed remarkable stamina and recuperative powers after running 4:50:34 at Deal the previous day.
Chantal was far from the only athlete who managed the double at the weekend. Whether any shopping got done remains a mystery but they do say that keen runners are among the most organised people you will ever meet!
Full details of Saxons, Vikings and Normans Marathons and Challenges here