We promised a 'sting in the tale' at Freedom Sports Serpent Trail Ultra on Saturday (7 July) in our weekend events preview Some Like It Hot but the stinger proved to be the unrelenting sun as record high temperatures continued to baste the south of England.
Technically speaking, serpents do not have stingers in their tails – the stinging snake myth is based on a few examples of the clever reptiles that use their tails to attract prey or to disable and manipulate prey prior to it becoming their dinner.
Fortunately there were no reports of problems with reptiles, arachnids or any other wildlife as 368 of the 400 starters successfully completed the 100K, 5OK, half marathon or 10K courses through South Downs National Park between Haslemere and Petersfield.
The event's name was an obvious choice as the Serpent Trail is a long distance path that snakes its way through 64 miles of West Sussex rare lowland heathland, where the green tiger beetle and Dartford warbler are among the fauna highlights.
We were impressed by the tenacity and determination of all the competitors and the excellent support that ensured such a low attrition rate on a boiling day. Typical of many positive social media posts was this message from the half marathon winner, Sue Evans (1:54:21): “Thanks all. Loved the really friendly event through some stunning countryside. Brilliant to come away with such a lovely trophy and medal too (plus my voucher from Alton Sports, thanks!). Would be up for running it again in cooler conditions!”
The other winners on a day when every finish was a victory over the conditions were:
100K – James Williams (Belgrave Harriers, 10:32:58); Patricia Patterson (13:21:08).
50K – Alastair Pickburn (New Forest, 4:10:30); Wendy Chapman (Freedom Racing, 4:51:23)
Half – Mark Stileman (Romsey RR, 1:41:42)
10K – Simon Goodall (1:01:20); Claire Blewett (1:01:24)
Image courtesy Serpent Trail Ultra