Biggest-ever edition of the popular ‘ATC’

A TOUGH programme of ‘tried and tested’ stages awaits the record entry of nearly 140 runners who will be taking on the 25th Trident Trust All Terrain Challenge.

Nathan Ward is the new man in charge of the All Terrain Challenge this year with Geoff King confined to Portugal. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29741944)
Nathan Ward is the new man in charge of the All Terrain Challenge this year with Geoff King confined to Portugal. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29741944)

After months of commitment from its five organisers, the biggest-ever edition of the week-long stage race begins on Sunday.

Unprecedented entry numbers have influenced the stage choices confirmed Nathan Ward, who is taking an elevated role with ‘ATC’ stalwart Geoff King confined to Portugal for a second year running due to Covid.

‘A lot of stages are tried and tested, and we talked about doing something different for the 25th year, but then the numbers came in,’ Ward said.

‘There’s a desire to get it right rather than try and do something spectacular and have it not work out.’

Listen to an interview with founding organiser Paul Ingrouille about the history of the All Terrain Challenge on this week's Guernsey Press Sport Podcast...

Racing begins with an Saints Bay-based 5km cliff opener and includes various other modern classics.

A less-common addition is Wednesday’s 3km Town time-trial – so far only raced in 2019 – with a slight alteration to replace the wrecked Clarence Battery steps. The otherwise ubiquitous Saumarez Park 5km is a notable absence.

When discussing the record entry, Ward believes the Covid pandemic played a significant role.

‘I think when the entries opened, people didn’t really have an outlet, so when the event went live, people were very enthusiastic to get something in the calendar for the summer, a plan,’ he said.

‘With the limited ability to travel for holidays at that time – nobody really knew what was coming – it was a good thing.

‘Off the back of last year, the word of mouth was circulating and a lot of people were encouraging their friends to come along.

‘We’ve got a lot of people repeating their entry – they were first-timers last year and they’ve brought their friends with them.’

Will Bodkin targets the challenge for the first time since his comeback to athletics and given the absence of brothers Ed and George Mason, who took the one-two last year, he is the hot favourite.

Rosie Williams returns to defend her women’s title.

But divisional prizes are up for grabs throughout and the presence of other notable sports people, including Guernsey FC legend Ross Allen and four Island basketballers, adds to the intrigue.

Ward called the organisation ‘a big undertaking’ that started about five months ago with a method and timeline provided by King.

They are just two members of the core team who organised last year’s successful event, with Ben Wilen and Ceejay Merrien also returning.

James Woolrich joins them for 2021 and has already shown his perseverance amid difficult circumstances, having battled through injury to complete last year’s Herm finale.

King will provide his influence from afar.

‘I am very disappointed to be missing the ATC for the second consecutive year, having been the lead organiser since the second year,’ he said.

‘It is great that in the 25th year of the event that we have record numbers and I am delighted to have a very supportive sponsor and organisational team ... to make this another great edition.’

. Ward is encouraging runners to share travel or otherwise minimise driving due to shortages of parking spaces.

25th Trident Trust All Terrain Challenge – the stages

Sunday: 5km cliff race from Saints Bay Harbour

Monday: 5km road race at Portelet

Tuesday: Track event at Footes Lane

Wednesday: 3km Town time-trial

Thursday: 8km Icart Loop (run in divisions)

Friday: Hill climb

Saturday: Herm cross-country

More details about the track event and hill climb will be unveiled on or closer to the day.

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