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Starting in Maidstone, teams of 10 took it in turns to run 170ish miles along the south east coast. After passing through the picturesque towns of Faversham, Ramsgate, Dover, Folkstone, Rye, Hastings and Eastbourne, teams finished their journey in Brighton.
This was the first time that Ragnar, the largest overnight relay in the US, was run in the UK, and Chestnut Tree House was chosen as local charity partner for the event.
“We know how important hospice care for children is”, said Lee and John from the Chestnutters – a team created by Kirsty Starmer. “Our child has a life-limiting condition and is actually being cared for by a hospice this weekend so that we can take part in this Ragnar Relay. It’s an absolute lifeline, and so we were more than happy to run for Chestnut Tree House.”
Steve O’Rourke, a Team Leader at Brighton-based Paxton Access Ltd, signed up to support Chestnut Tree House, which is his company’s Charity of the Year. He ran as part of Team Chestnut and spoke about running for a great cause. “I have three healthy children and I know I would want Chestnut Tree House to be there if I ever needed them.”
Steve doesn’t describe himself as a seasoned runner, but enjoyed the challenge of Ragnar. “I only really started running about a year ago, and haven’t really done much for a couple of months, but the Ragnar has been do-able. A lot of it is mind over matter, and it was tough running through the night, but we all completed the challenge together.”
Oceanair, manufacturer of blinds and soft furnishings, based in Selsey, West Sussex, were the first to sign up for the challenge, led by team captain Catherine Grinstead. “It’s been good,” she commented. “The atmosphere has been great and it’s been lovely to run for such a great cause.”
All of the runners commented on the atmosphere of Ragnar. “It’s been fantastic,” said Alison Taylor, who ran alongside Steve as part of Team Chestnut. “There has been a real community feel throughout the relay – we’ve met so many people at the different exchange points. There’s also been a lot of fun – from face-painting and temporary tattoos to light shows and music. I’m so happy to have completed the relay and proud to be able to say I have been a part of the first ever one in the UK.”
All three teams were raising funds for Chestnut Tree House, with fundraising totals still to be confirmed. The event also gave Chestnut Tree House the opportunity to ‘take over’ exchange point 20, which was in Eastbourne. Volunteers, joined by MP Stephen Lloyd, helped to guide runners to the exchange, register them in and cheer them on the next leg.
Kerry O’Neill, events fundraiser at Chestnut Tree House commented: “We were honoured to have been chosen as local charity partners for the first UK Reebok Ragnar and are over the moon that the event was a success. The runners were all amazing, completing the relay with smiles on their faces and raising awareness of Chestnut Tree in the local area. Every hard-earned penny they have raised will make a real difference to local children and their families.
“We would like to say a huge thank you to Grounded Events and RagnarUK for choosing us, to our runners and to all our volunteers who surpassed themselves – getting up early on a Sunday morning to cheer on the tired teams.”
Chestnut Tree House has a full programme of running events, from 10k runs through to marathons and ultra-marathons. You can find out more here.