A 43-STRONG team of runners from Basingstoke and Mid Hants Athletic Club travelled to the French Alps to take part in the Mont Blanc race weekend.

The event consists of four main races – over 10km, 23km, marathon distance and 80km – taking in various hills and mountain trails around Chamonix and Mont Blanc. The challenging Vertical KM was also held, with runners gaining 1,000m in height over the course of just 3.8km.

The opening event was the 80km ultra marathon. Just one Basingstoke runner, Simon Ellis, was brave enough to enter, but he suffered badly with altitude sickness and was forced to retire after 27 hard kilometres.

Several local runners entered the second event, the Vertical KM, with Dave Ragan the quickest Basingstoke athlete, completing the course in 48min 33sec, nine minutes quicker than clubmate Mark Slaney.

A total of 18 Basingstoke runners entered the 23km race, with Ragan again the first home. He completed the course in 2:47:04, 11 minutes ahead of Steve Jeffery. Charlotte Earl was the fastest lady, finishing in 3:36:50, followed by Caroline Partner some four minutes later.

A further four athletes from the Down Grange club took part in the 10km race, while several competed in the main event, the Mont Blanc Marathon, with 2,300m of total ascent in the 26.2mile course.

Dave Meacock was the first Basingstoke finisher, getting home in 4:37:59, 11 minutes ahead of Chris Burghes. Rebecca Jakeman was the first lady from Basingstoke home, clocking 7:23:48, while Andy Cackett, John Bigg, Sam Bevan, Mark Bevan, Victor Liu, Dave Eastman, Mark Slaney, Matt Hallin, Chris Furness, Peter Grigoleit, Mat Lyness, Tim Fowler and Don Powell also managed to complete the course.