A FITNESS endurance challenge that will be the first of its kind in the town has been organised by a Basingstoke athlete.

Rachel Hessom, who last year became the first woman to complete a cross-Channel triathlon without wearing a wetsuit, is looking for participants to take part in an Ultramarathon in May.

The event will involve runners completing 5k laps of Down Grange sports ground as many times as possible in 24 hours.

The 29-year-old mother-of-one, from Overton, has organised the event to raise money for The Ark Cancer Charity, after her mother, Julie Hessom, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mr Merv Rees, clinical director of surgery at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Hospital Trust, who is leading The Ark Cancer Charity fundraising campaign, was delighted when Rachel donated funds raised from her Channel swim to the charity, which wants to build a dedicated cancer treatment centre.

Rachel, who understands the importance of providing a cancer treatment centre, easily accessible to north Hampshire residents, said: “My mum had to travel to and from Southampton every day to receive treatment.”

She agreed to raise funds for the charity, and generated £2,000 from the Arch to Arc triathlon.

Rachel, who is a membership advisor for Virgin Active, said: “The people at the charity have been so supportive, and I wanted to do a little extra for them”

Hoping that the Ultramarathon will generate a further £1,000 for the charity, Rachel said: “The 24-hour run can be undertaken by solo runners or teams of relay runners and people can run or walk for as long as they wish.

“We hope to create an atmosphere that is friendly and we hope that the camaraderie will carry everyone through an event that can be considered a truly epic achievement.”

The Hockey Club will be used at a base for people to sleep and eat.

Rachel said: “It’s a really good personal challenge. It’s one of those things you would remember forever. You don’t need to be super fit.

“This is a fun event where you can crash out at the sidelines as often as you want, or you can get a team of friends together and have a laugh while you walk the course for a couple of hours at a time.”

The event will start at noon on May 3, and finish at the same time the following day.

Entry is limited to 200 participants and costs £50 for solo runners or £40 for relay runners. Visit fortitudeultra.com.