Runners get ready for gruelling assault course

The Swanbourne Endeavour PNL-140929-141246001
The Swanbourne Endeavour PNL-140929-141246001

Civil servants, great-grandparents and rugby players are among the intrepid throng set to take part in a gruelling assault course.

Competitors from all over the country are due to pour into Swanbourne for the fourth annual Swanbourne Endeavour on Sunday, October 19.

The Swanbourne Endeavour PNL-140929-141236001

The Swanbourne Endeavour PNL-140929-141236001

Swanbourne resident Iain Duncan-Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Rt. Hon Iain Duncan Smith is expected to take on the 10km challenge.

And with him comes a team of 14 civil servants from his department, determined to follow civil service tradition by scuppering their minister’s chances of success. The eccentric endurance course includes barbed wire crawls, ice pits, climbing ropes, sandbag drags and burning logs.

Runners will plunge into ponds, walk the plank, leap through bales of burning straw and crawl through tunnels of clay.

The race stretches over 10km for the real fitness fanatics, with a gentler 5km option for children and adults.

Event organiser and Swanbourne estate manager Tom Finchett said: “The story began four years ago with our first Endeavour.

The race was started with a cannon fired by a man dressed as Nelson.

“The 300-odd runners loved it – the smoke, the crowds of supporters, and the screams of delight at the finish line!

“We are expecting double that number and this year sees support from London Welsh rugby team, newly elevated to the Premiership.

“Used to the tough environment of the rugby pitch, the team were looking for something different to test their spirit, and the Swanbourne Endeavour is surely it.

“This year we are expecting upwards of 600 runners. Some are first timers. Others are endurance running veterans, used to the fire pits, the ponds, the walk-the-plank and all that the ‘Trafalgar Zone’ has to offer.”

“I won’t say much more,” Mr Finchett added. “We always like to keep a few surprises.”

The awards for the most senior competitors go to Swanbourne gardeners and great-grandparents Philip and Sylvia Dalton, aged 77 and 71, who will be running the 5km course with obstacles.

Mr Dalton said: “I’m looking forward to taking part this year. I took part on the inaugural Endeavour, but have had a couple of hernia operations since, so I’ve been off.

“It’s a tough course. I don’t mind the obstacles, it’s just the running in between that’s tricky, especially the three hills at the beginning.

“But there’s a great spirit and a feeling of camaraderie. Everyone cheers you on along the way. And of course you go for pint in the pub afterwards.

“I’m looking forward to that bit.”

The date of the race is chosen for its proximity to the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21.

Swanbourne boasts strong ties to a prominent historical naval figure, Admiral Thomas Fremantle, who fought with distinction alongside Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar and moved to the village over 200 years ago with his wife, Betsey, a famous diarist.

Swanbourne’s award-winning pub, The Betsey Wynne, is named after her.

The money raised by the Swanbourne Endeavour will go to four charities – the Royal British Legion, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), the Bucks Services Charities and Great Horwood-based Medical Detection Dogs.