Race Report: Moonlight Challenge 2016, ‘Kent’s Ultra Marathon in the Dark’. A long deep, slippery mud track at the start of the Moonlight Challenge was just one of the obstacles that the runners had to face in the annual night time ultra marathon event organised by the Challenge Hub. The event, a 33.1` miles multi-lap endurance in the dark held on Saturday 20th February, saw 52 challengers taking part with 25 completing the full distance. The only downside to the event was that the moon, part of the events billing, only made few fleeting appearance because of the heavy cloud cover.
Set on a scenic course near Reculver in the countryside of East Kent, the Moonlight Challenge provided the athletes with a safe 6.62 mile course with a cutoff point of 8 hours, allowing competitors the option of dropping out whenever they wish. The course was mixed terrain with deep mud and water in places, slippery underfoot on some stretches in the countryside. The event, normally known for its extreme weather conditions was comparably mild with some crosswinds and light drizzle.
52 runners equipped with all weather gear and head torches took part in this year’s event with 25 Challengers completing the full distance of 33.1 miles. Brook Farm provided a fabulous HQ and checkpoint where runners could rest and if needed stay out of the weather. In addition the race’s Marshall Spots named ‘Gregory’s Gate’, ‘Davis Dyke’ and ‘Jelly Baby Junction’ returned and were greatly enjoyed by the runners for their warm banter and hospitality.
Runners of all abilities took part ranging from seasoned ultra runners to those running ultras for the first time. There were some great performances by all who took part with Robert Jones the first person home in a fantastic time of 5 hours 11 minutes. Paula Nunn was the first lady back in a great time of 6 hours 59 minutes especially as this was her first ultra. Special merit should also go to Thanet Roadrunner, Pam Philpot, who always runs with a smile on her face who was awarded trophy for ‘the most effort’
Jim Bonner who completed the challenge in 8 hours 20 minutes said, “What a night… mud, blood, rain, wind….twisted ankle at 12km. But such a great bunch of fellow “nutters” and such caring organisers. Mike even untied my shoes at the end after 8 hours of running as I couldn’t reach them!!! Thank you Challenge Hub, we raised £1,134 for Alzheimer’s as both Su Bonner and I have lost our Mums to this hideous disease.”
His sister, Sue who ran just under 20 miles said, “A big thanks to Mike and all at Challenge Hub for a fantastic event! The organizers remained incredibly cheerful and caring right through to the early hours!”
Paul Thompson who completed the challenge in 5 hours 58 minutes said, “It was another great Challenge Hub event. A great team behind the organisation, marshals and aid station crews. Thank you.”
Bob Wild who completed the challenge in 5 hours 46 minutes said, “One runner said the weather was so good it was like a run that normal people do, until the last lap where 250 pairs of feet had turned the mud at the start to frogspawn. Then it got really nasty.”
Mike Inkster, Director of Challenge Hub said, “A huge well done to everyone who took part, especially for all those raising money for charity including the Bonners raising money for Alzheimers and the ‘Determined Daddies’ who ran to raise money for diabetes.”
He added, ”The atmosphere this year was the best ever. There were a lot more smiling faces than sad ones which is always a good sign. The marshals were, as always, superb and we have the best drink stations/checkpoints to be found anywhere at any ultra-event.”