The Cheltenham Challenge
By guest blogger Alan Hoar, Gloucestershire Outward Bound Association (OBA)
(Pictured left with BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson.)
Being awoken by the alarm at 5.30am was not the most relaxing start to Fathers' day. However, The Outward Bound Trust gazebo needed to be erected for an event at Cheltenham racecourse by 7am and, as I was in possession of it, the one-day a year pampering would have to wait.
The event is the annual Cheltenham Challenge. It offers walkers and runners the opportunity of an 'off road' event, over a range of distances, in the Cotswold Hills; starting and finishing at the racecourse.
Three years ago the event was taken over by County Community Projects (CCP), a local charity who work with families and young people, to prevent homelessness and support independence.
Gloucestershire OBA developed a partnership with CCP around six years ago through a mutual recognition of the positive affects an Outward Bound® course can have on a young person. We now provide CCP with practical and financial support to enable groups of young people, from supported housing programmes, to undertake a Challenge and Adventure course at Aberdovey. We also help identify and mentor individuals to complete The Trust's Skills for Life Award.
Two years ago, CCP invited our OBA to become involved with the Cheltenham Challenge and our key role at the event is to hand out the finishing medals to each competitor. This role enables us to interact with around 1,200 competitors (plus their supporters) over the course of the day and profile the work of The Trust, both locally and nationally.
It also provides a perfect vehicle for individual fundraising. This year Aaron and Shawn, resplendent in their 'Outward Bound' running vests, completed the half marathon and raised sponsorship for their participation on a Skills for Life Award course in Loch Eil, this August. Both had attended a course at Aberdovey in February and achieved scholarships from our partnership with Gloucestershire Constabulary.
The final competitors completed the course at around 6pm, making for a fairly long but ultimately rewarding day. In addition to the effort made by Aaron and Shawn completing their event, the highlight for me was the assistance provided by two young people that we’ve supported over the last couple of years. Jamie and Tyler, respectively, completed 'Classic' and 'Ultimate' courses at Loch Eil last year and came along on Sunday to lend a hand and update us on their individual 'journeys'. I guess that's what our OBA is really all about… a great Fathers’ day, from my perspective – the pampering can wait!