Runners and walkers turned out in force for one of the best-loved events on the Matlock area sporting calendar, the Dovedale Dipper Challenge.
It was the 15th renewal of the challenge, which entails running or walking either the full 26-mile course or taking the shorter 15-mile option. And a grand total of 355 people, of all ages and abilities, took part on a beautiful day.
A record number of 155 runners tackled the picturesque course and, considering the terrain of the route, the winning times were described by the organisers as astonishing.
The first athlete to complete the 26-mile run was Stephen Shanks, from Bingham, who crossed the line in three hours, 48 minutes. Fully 11 minutes behind him was Kenny Malton, while third place was shared by veterans Marcel Darling and Kevin Doyle in exactly four hours.
The fastest walker of the 26-mile route was Miss F.Cooke, who finished in five hours, six minutes, with an average walking speed of more than five miles an hour. Second was Donald O’Brien in five hours, 35 minutes, and third was Andy Carpenter in six hours, five minutes.
The first of the 15-mile walkers home was John Griffin, who completed the course in four hours, 31 minutes, well ahead of four walkers locked on four hours, 37 minutes, John Houltby, Steven Pain, Julie Maycock and Philip Maycock.
In the 15-mile run, the winner was Maree Jesson in a time of two hours, 29 minutes, ahead of second-placed Simon Tootell in two hours, 29 minutes and third-placed Karolina Kucharek in two hours, 31 minutes.
The Dovedale Dipper is organised by Matlock Rotary Club, with help from the Matlock Inner Wheel organisation. All money raised, through entrance fees and sponsorship, was donated to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI).
The Rotary Club’s chairman, Julian Hammond, said: “The event was another great success, with much-needed funds raised for the RNLI. I thank all the organisers and helpers who made the Dipper such a success, and I look forward to the 16th event next year.”
Among those helpers was local farmer Richard Sherratt, who kindly provided one of his fields for car parking. First aid was provided by St John Ambulance, while radio communications were provided by Raynet.
Help was also given by Hartington Parish Council, which provided its village hall as the headquarters for the event. All of the competitors were cheered on by dozens of spectators, who lined the route and thoroughly enjoyed getting into the spirit of the event and hailing all the finishers.