Running the off-road Marlborough Downs Challenge raises funds for children in Ghana

Written by Tony Millett on .

The chap in the photo (right) is Ramsbury resident James Higgins - and he is enjoying a well-earned pint of Ramsbury Gold in The Bell after completing the Marlborough Downs Challenge - an 'ultra marathon' across the downs held this year on Saturday, May 6.  

He chose to run the 33-mile version of this trail race, which includes 3,000 feet of climbs.  And he chose to run it to raise funds for the Ramsbury based charity Action Through Enterprise (ATE) which helps the people - especially children - in Lawra one of the poorest parts of Upper West Ghana.

He completed the run in six hours twelve minutes and thirty-six seconds - putting him fiftieth out of the ninety-six runners.  So far he has beaten more than the 33-miles - he has beaten his original £300 target.   He has raised £755 (including Gift Aid) and his fundraising page is still open for donations.

ATE's Chief Executive, Sarah Gardner, told Marlborough.News: "All the funds James has raised will be used to provide free school meals for hungry children in Lawra. His fantastic total (so far) will buy 3,775 lunches."

"James's huge success today is particularly impressive as he sadly lost his grandfather, Dr Trevor Tiplady, last weekend."

The Marlborough Downs Challenge is organised by the Marlborough Running Club and entrants can choose to run the 20-mile version of the trail race.  It attracts runners from all over the south of England including London.

The route of the long version takes runners past some of the Wiltshire's best loved countryside:  The Wansdyke Path, Tan Hill Way, White Horse Trail, and Mid Wilts Way with superb views across the Vale of Pewsey West Woods and Gopher Wood, with its wild garlic.    

Runners take on two of the highest points in Wiltshire: Knapp Hill and Tan Hill, where the long and short courses diverge.  Runners on the long route follow The Kennet & Avon Canal into Devizes, take in Roundway Hill and Morgan's Hill, Cherhill Monument and its white horse.

Finally, the routes re-join to pass through Avebury with views of Silbury Hill, then go via Overton and Fyfield Downs back to Marlborough Leisure Centre for showers and refreshments.

For the record, the long route of the Marlborough Downs Challenge was won this year by Edward Knudsen of the Avon Valley Runners in a time of four hours twenty-one minutes.

Before the race: James with his mother Sara Thompson - a long term ATE volunteerBefore the race: James with his mother Sara Thompson - a long term ATE volunteer