A Half Marathon For The Pond

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Runners at the 2014 Fleet Half Marathon

David Pottinger writes:

Some months ago I mentioned the Photography Competition organised by the Mackenzie Smith Estate Agency. It focused on scenes from the North Hampshire region and the winning entries were presented as a calendar for 2015. It was great to find that the picture for July was one of Fleet Pond (see below).

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The calendar entry for July, Fleet Pond by Chris Straker

Following on from this, two members of the Mackenzie Smith marketing team, Roxanne Lewington and Tara Skinner, have bravely decided to run in the 2015 Fleet Half Marathon with all financial donations going to the Clearwater Campaign for Fleet Pond.

Roxanne comments (see here):

I have never run a half marathon before and am quite daunted. Having signed up just 8 weeks before the event and with no pre-existing exercise regime the training has been a bit of a shock to the system, but I’m determined to finish it, even if it does mean training after a long day at work.

The event will take place on Sunday 22 March 2015.

If you’d like to support Roxanne and Tara, and in so doing help fund improvements at Fleet Pond Nature Reserve, please consider donating on their Virgin Money Giving page here. So far, over £120 has been pledged!

The visionary Clearwater Campaign was initiated by Fleet Pond Society (FPS) and you can read all about it on the FPS website here:

It is a campaign to restore Fleet Pond Nature Reserve to a healthier and more valuable amenity for wildlife and people.

The campaign will be a partnership between Fleet Pond Society, Hart District Council, Natural England, the Environment Agency and other interested parties. Its purpose is to try and raise enough money to fund a major restoration of the Pond. The restoration programme would include projects of benefit to local people and visitors, by providing additional seating areas, a variety of new information boards, improved footpaths and bridges, and the installation of new fishing jetties.

There’s also a useful video (from 2010) featuring Chris Packham, who is the Patron of Fleet Pond Society, that explains the original motivation for the campaign:

Incidentally, the Fleet Half Marathon has an interesting background and is well worth watching on the day, both for the range and numbers of runners (including some ‘characters’, eg see below) and for the excellent friendly atmosphere.

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Late for the office!

Details of the event, including the route and timings, can be found here, from which:

Sunday 4th April 1982 saw a new experience greet the town of Fleet. In the midst of the 80’s running boom Fleet & Crookham Athletic Club, sponsored by the Star Newspaper and with assistance from local businesses, launched the first of many successful half marathons. Chris Brasher (founder of the London Marathon) gave permission for the event to be titled “The Pre-London”…

Entries rose to 5,000 a year with a regular 3,000 completing the course. For many years the race was closed for entries by Christmas, such being its popularity. We now accept just 3,500 runners due to the restrictions of the course. The race still reaches its entries target with it normally being full well before Christmas despite competition from other major half marathons on the same day/same month.

Celebrities and TV/film personalities are regular visitors. Elite athletes gracing the event have included Steve Jones (former marathon world record holder), with internationals Steve Brace, Garry Staines, Bernie Ford, Marion Sutton, Ann Ford, Paula Fudge. Club and local athletes continue to use the race as a warm up for the London Marathon as well as for a personal best opportunity in its own right.

We all wish Roxanne and Tara the very best in their training and for a great result on the day!

Photo credits: top and bottom, David Pottinger.

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