The first Charnwood Hills Race was held at 10.00 a.m. on Sunday January 12th 1986, from the Martin School, Anstey, entry fee £1.50, entries to Ken Vickers. It was advertised as approx. 12 miles long. The original course was the same as the present one except for in Beacon Hill Country Park. The original course went straight to the summit of Beacon Hill and back, which was shorter than the present route which follows the horse/cycle track around the edge of Beacon Hill Country Park. The map below shows the present route (you can click the map to view an interactive version):
Origins of the race lie in the early seventies in a Bowline run which was held every year from the Bradgate pub in Cropston for club members. This was long before the running boom. Most Bowline members used to run regularly to keep fit for rock climbing and mountain activities and were very competitive. The first race, as far as members can remember, was probably 1973.
Runners got to hear of the race, there were not that many races in those days, and would turn up for a run, which went out along Causeway Lane, entering Bradgate Park at the same point as the present race. It was one lap of the perimeter of the park and back, a virtual sprint! There was only one prize, for the winner, an old chamber pot, the glaze cracked and browned with age, which the winner had to fill with best bitter and pass around. The winner was allowed to retain it for 12 months until the next race!
The run became so popular that it was decided to make it not only an open race, but in true Bowline tradition, as hard as possible, taking in as many hills and as little road as possible. It is now the only fell race in Leicestershire, category C L, run under Fell Running Association and U.K. Athletic rules. It attracts runners from all over Britain and could be described as a classic. It is often simply referred to as "The Bowline."
Ted had a long association with the Bowline and was held in such high esteem that he was made an honorary member. Before he died (Christmas 2010) he had fully endorsed the conception of this race hoping it would be a fun low key event to fit into the busy race calendar. The race ran up until 2015. But since then issues with liability in respect to the land on which the race is run mean that we are no longer able to run the race. Past results of the race can be viewed here.