The New Forest Challenge was an event put on by the Wessex group of the Long Distance Walkers Association and featured either a choice of an 18 mile or 26 mile route that could either be walked or ran.
Of course, Bournemouth’s resident hardcore hill enthusiast Ollie Stoten took the running option. Ollie is no stranger to very long runs that include extremely high elevation gains.
Whilst the course for the New Forest Challenge would be most peoples’ idea of hell, with the off-road route incorporating over 3,000ft of elevation, Ollie was actually quite a home in this environment.
Regularly featuring near the top of the BAC leaderboard on Strava for weekly mileage, Ollie certainly puts everything into his training. In terms of elevation, he is usually right at the top of the table, sometimes racking up over 19,000ft of climbing within the space of a week.
The New Forest Challenge course started off at Burley Village Hall and was a circular route over forest tracks and paths, through woods and across heathlands. The participants were responsible for using their own navigation skills to find their way to each checkpoint.
It was a picturesque route, with some lovely open views throughout. Ollie wasn’t hanging around to admire the scenery though. He was tearing his way round the course, making light work of the hills as he advanced.
Soon finding himself way out front on his own, it wasn’t a case of whether he would win or not, it was more a question of how quickly could he get round.
As the miles were ticked off one by one, Ollie kept a very consistent pace, despite the constant undulation. A very quick last 4 miles saw Ollie get to finish line and complete the course in an incredible time of 3 hours 31 minutes.
The total distance he covered amounted to 27 miles and his average pace for the run was 7 minutes 32 per mile. A very impressive stat given the profile of the course, which contained 3,089ft of elevation.
No one else in the field could come anywhere near Ollie. In fact, Ollie was the only participant who did the full 26 mile route that came in under 4 hours. The next quickest person to complete the course did it in 4 hours 24 minutes, so almost an hour behind Ollie.
To be fair, very few people managed to get through the 26 miles in under 5 hours which gives an idea of the sheer dominance of Ollie over the rest of the field.
It will be interesting to see what Ollie has lined up for his next challenge. No doubt it will be a long distance route with a very hilly profile though. He wouldn’t have it any other way.