In 1981 the Lions Club of New Milton were seeking ideas for fundraising events that could be organised and held in the town. After some discussion, one of the members stood up and said confidently “I’ve had an idea” and the rest is history.
Mick Manley, who was President of the local Club from Summer 1982 to mid-1983, suggested organising a marathon that would take in the local area. Funds would be raised from sponsorship and runners entry fees. The feasibility of a running event was discussed and once agreed a sub-committee was formed and work began on organising the event throughout the following year. In 1983, The New Forest Marathon was born and at the time was recognised as one of the most popular races in the world.
The first Marathon should have taken place in September 1982 but as there was no sponsorship available it had to be delayed until the following year. In the meantime, Mick was out for hours on end in The New Forest with a surveyor’s wheel measuring, re-measuring and marking out the course. A huge effort was made to ensure the route was not only suitable for the runners due to take part but one that took in the famous New Forest scenery and landmarks.
September 2013 saw the last New Forest Marathon held in New Milton. However, in 2014 unfortunately the event did not run due to a number of factors.
In 2015, Andy and Chris worked tirelessly along with the support from the former NFM committee to create a New Forest Marathon Team for the future. From that point on, the New Forest Marathon was reborn! On 13th September 2015 the New Forest Marathon was relaunched to capture the community spirit once again! Situated at the New Forest Park Showground, it hosted a modern race village, new course routes and additional events such as the Half Marathon, 10k, 5k and Woodland Walk whereby 4000 runners and spectators attended.
Throughout 2016 and 2017 the New Forest Marathon continued to grow, however it has still maintained its community ethos and values which are of great importance! More community groups have supported the event and in 2017 over 18 local groups (such as Brownie/Guide groups, Cub/Scout groups, Youth Police/Air/Army Cadet Forces, Dance groups and Cheerleading Clubs) assisted to make the marathon a rewarding and enjoyable family event. The New Forest Community Fund alongside ABP Southampton have supported our local groups and have been able to provide donations to each group to help them to fund local projects. More information can be found on the following link: https://www.newforestmarathon.co.uk/fundraising/community-fund/
To be continued………
(We have sourced old race day magazines, photos and other items that will create this section in the coming months. If you have anything to help us add to this section please get in contact)