RUNNERS, joggers, cyclists and young children took part in Stockbridge’s annual George Skeates Cross Country Fun event over the weekend.

George Skeates, a British sidecar racer who suffered a severe and disabling spinal injury in a motorsport accident in 1985, waved the Union Flag marking the start of the race which saw over 200 competitors storm from the start line.

The challenge was started in 1986 by Mike Crossman to raise cash for the Salisbury-based Integrated Spinal Rehabilitation Foundation (Inspire) and the Wessex Heartbeat charity which has its headquarters at Southampton General Hospital.

This year saw £2,500 raised and, since it was started, around £50,000 has been raised for the two charities.

Assistant organiser of the event Julietta Crossman said: “It was another great turnout with over 200 entrants Stockbridge Town Hall was bustling with participants for the event. There was a great atmosphere as always as George waved the starter's flag before participating in the event himself.

“Despite the muddy terrain the supporters persevered with great energy and enthusiasm with some great results.”

The fundraiser was divided into an eight mile and three mile running course and the same distances for a riding challenge across countryside around Stockbridge including Danebury Iron Age Hillfort and Longstock.

Romsey’s Michael Tanner was first past the winning post in the eight mile run completing the course in 49 minutes 4 seconds. It was the second year on the trot that Mike took the top position.

Mark Shercliff was runner-up and Andy Gannaway came third in the same category. Karen Warren was the top runner in the women’s section of the eight mile run. She completed it in 1 hour 6 minutes. Scott Chappell won the cyclist’s eight mile ride covering the distance in 33 minutes and 70-year-old Andy Morris and his 12-year-old grandson both completed the three mile cycle challenge in 15 minutes. They live in Exeter.

For the short course the winning runner was George Beadle and the winning cyclists were Andy Morris aged 70 and his 12 year old grandson Oliver Foster, who had come from Exeter to participate.

In the three mile run event George Beadle was first home in 23 minutes. He was closely followed by Hugo McCullagh who finished in 24 minutes. Third past the post was Finn McCullagh.

Anni Dawes and her two daughters Ella, eight, and Evie, six, from Romsey took part for the first time.