AFTER skipping a year due to Covid-19, the George Skeates Cross-Country Fun Run event in Stockbridge was back at the weekend, with its 34th event.

Following days of rain, the day dawned dry, icy cold but sunny. Entries came from far afield with the usual good turnout from Romsey Road Runners, despite a clash of dates with a league event.

In fact, Derek Kelly of Romsey Road Runners celebrated his 77th birthday running the long course including the notorious Gum Boot Gully in 1 hour and 31 minutes.

His teammates were on the finish line to sing Happy Birthday to him as he crossed the line and others joined in.

Alan and Kevin, both in their late 60s rode the long cycle course. Kevin had been intending to participate in a road race but it was cancelled due to black ice on the route and decided to keep Alan company instead.

Zodwa Chosokela, who has been member of a club but has been running on her own for last couple of years due to Covid, ran the event for the first time, and intended to do the short run but was swept along by other runners and ran the whole 7.75 miles in the respectable time of 1 hour 53 minutes.

First in the Long Run (8 miles) was Justin Cooper with a time of 53 minutes, followed by Lee Syrett, Matt Hersby and James Blyth in 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

The first woman home was Fay Bromilow 1 hour 15 minutes, second place Agata McGarry with a similar time and Sue Sylvester and Liz Slade of Romsey Road Runners who ran together in 3rd and 4th with 1.22.04.

Ross Wayne came first in the Short Run (just over 3 miles) with a time of 25.35, followed home by ladies B Thompson (31 minutes) and Caroline Lucas (32.35).

And it wasn’t just the runners who enjoyed the day, but keen cyclists too. In the long cross-country cycle, Colin Ings came in first place (37 minutes), followed by James Dance and Tim Ponting in second and third.

Jo Ponting was first placed lady (time not recorded) followed by Julia Downs in (1.02).

The E-bikes were first home with Brett Wilkinson, Rob Wilkinson and Jamie Wilkinson in 27 minutes. The short cycle ride was completed in 48 minutes by Laura Turner, 3-year-old Charlie Green and Dean Turner.

Meanwhile, the spot prize was won by number 69, David Cox.

In total, more than £2000 was raised for local registered charities including Wessex heartbeat, INSPIRE Foundation, and Horatio’s Garden.

An event spokesperson said: “We hope everyone enjoyed the event; the 35th iteration is tentatively set for Sunday, January 8 2023”.