Last year, because of the pandemic, the Garmin New Forest Marathon relocated to St Giles House, Wimborne, and such was its success that it is returning to the venue this September.
In 2020 the totally COVID safe operation included a socially distanced start and no spectators on the 6,000 acre private estate.
Last year’s event was widely praised across the national running press for its outstanding organisation and COVID Safe policies. It demonstrated how events of this size can operate in a COVID safe manner by making the necessary changes and creating a national blueprint for other event organisers and governing bodies to follow.
The pandemic has presented so many challenges across the forest with increased pressure from visitors on facilities, resources and the natural habitat forcing Forestry England to take the national decision to not consider event applications before August this year at the earliest. With the event being staged in September it wouldn’t allow organisers enough time to stage and would have created a summer of continued uncertainty for all involved.
Chris Farr, director, ORA Events which is organising the marathon said: “The decision to relocate for another year is the best solution in what are still very challenging times. It provides certainty to all our partners, runners and charities whilst protecting the very special environment that is the New Forest. Forestry England has been fully supportive with the decision for the return of the event in 2022 when it is hoped the COVID situation will have eased along with the pressures they’re currently facing.”
This year’s event is set to welcome visitors and spectators back to the event along with food and drink traders, live music, camping, paddleboarding, kid’s activities and much more. The 400-year-old St Giles House will provide a unique opportunity for runners to experience this stunning rural Dorset setting and its very special atmosphere.
Andy Daish, director, ORA Events, said: “It’s our full intention to put on the event as near normal as possible within the government guidelines at the time. The return of spectators, a full event village will bring that special New Forest Marathon atmosphere back for all those attending. We feel confident that we’ve structured the event in such a way that all necessary adaptations to adhere to government guidelines can be met creating another amazing event again this year.”
Chris Farr said: “Unlike many inner city marathons and events the St Giles House location allows us to manage all risks and create a COVID safe event for our runners and spectators alike. It’s been a very difficult period for the events/charity industry so we’re hoping this will bring some welcome cheer and a really positive end to the 2021.”
Taking place across three days from 24-26 September, events will be staggered across the weekend allowing for changes to timings and start procedures should these be required.
To enter log onto: www.newforestmarathon.co.uk
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