HUNDREDS of runners and walkers are preparing to battle steep climbs, rocky footpaths and possible pouring rain as they pound over miles of beautiful Cheshire countryside.
On Saturday, May 12, children, teenagers and adults will join aspiring athletes as they race over stiles, pound through fields and scramble up 3,700ft to cross the finishing line of the popular ultra-marathon.
The 33-mile Sandstone Trail Challenge will see the brave walkers and runners travel to Whitchurch to set foot on the trail at the crack of dawn before winding through Nomansheath, Bickerton, Beeston, Willington and Delamere and finally crossing the finishing line in Frodsham.
This year’s race has become so popular that time is quickly running out for competitors to register to take part in the challenge with all of the running places snapped up already and just a handful of walking places remaining.
Last year’s event, which was the first in five years since Frodsham Fire Service pulled out of organising the challenge back in 2006, saw 112 runners travel from across the country to compete for the Sandstone Trail title.
It took Helsby Running Club champion Adair Broughton just over four hours to finish the 33 mile race, breaking the former record by just under 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, teenagers and pensioners took up to 12 hours to reach the finish line at Frodsham Community Centre where they were greeted by cheering crowds and a pie-and-pea supper for their hard work.
Speaking after last year’s race, Helsby Running Club member Steve Riley said: “There was a tremendously good vibe about the race. There was a fantastic atmosphere the whole way around the course, even through it is incredibly tough at times, with steep hills and fences to climb.”
The Sandstone Trail Challenge starts at 8.30am on Saturday, May 12, in Whitchurch. Entry is £18 and competitors need to register at www.helsbyrunningclub.org.uk.