By Mike Thatcher
Although the St Lawrence Fair seems a long way off, preparation is already underway, and perhaps none more so than for anyone who is thinking of entering the Fun Run this year. It has become an integral part of Fair Day and I met with race organiser Benny Coxhill along with two of last year’s winners Laura O’Grady Serrut and Freddie Shalloe.
First conceived by Andrew Priddell, it used to be a much longer route, up to ten miles and going up Wolstonbury twice. Benny then got involved: “I used to see it go past my house in Bedlam Street and think I would like to do that, so I started training but that was the year they stopped running it! A group of us revived it about 20 years ago.”
Benny took over the running of the event from Ian Bush ten years ago. “We usually get about 100 people in total, 60 or 70 for the long course and 20 or 30 for the short course, but it would be nice to have a few more.
We have had all sorts of runners over the years. Some serious runners; people have come from Scotland and even the Netherlands, so you get all sorts of people.”
The long course goes over the top of Wolstonbury Hill and is just over five miles long. The shorter course cuts towards Danny House and over the fields and is close to a mile and half long. There’s a short stretch of road on New Way Lane, and the race organisers are grateful to Danny House as they need permission to run on the drive. It can be a moment to frighten or inspire the runners according to Benny: “You can see the great hill behind the house and think I’ve got to go up there!”
As much as anything, the race couldn’t be run without volunteers. Benny is particularly grateful for one group’s help: “The Army Cadets are really good. They are from Hurst but also recruit from other branches. They are great, and they do whatever is asked of them.”
If helping out at a water station appeals to you then please let Benny know. It’s a great job for dog walkers who don’t mind waiting somewhere on the route for an hour. As Laura said: “It gets really hot during the race, so we are really grateful for the water stations and volunteers.”
Race Day is Saturday 6th July this year. If you can help in any way email: stlawrencefair.funrun at gmail.com.