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Fred Whitton 2015: Charity Entry Now Open - General Entry by Ballot from January 5

by Nick Gregory

GB Flag

General entries for the iconic Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge, taking place on 10 May 2015, will be decided by ballot from January 5, but riders keen to secure a berth can do so via charity entry for the event, which is open now. 

First held in 1999, the event, which was one of the first sportives in the UK, is generally considered to be the toughest and most prestigious on the calendar. The route takes riders on a gruelling 112 mile loop of the Lake District, including all of the national park's most famous passes: Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Cold Fell, Irton Pike and the deadly duo of Hardknott and Wrynose. 

Starting and finishing in Grasmere, the challenge is run in memory of Fred Whitton, who was the Lakes Road Club racing secretary for many years, as well as Lakes and Lancs' Division road racing secretary, an ex-first cat and all-round clubman who tragically passed away at the age of 50 from cancer. The event raises money for various charities, and this year alone has brought in a staggering £200,000. One of the biggest cheques presented was to Macmillan Cancer Support who received £125,000.  

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Cyclosport's Emma Osenton is something of a Fred Whitton veteran: "Absolutely and unquestionably the best sportive in the country. The organisation is amazing, the setting is iconic, great food, great atmosphere and huge climbs with some even bigger and steeper ones thrown in to boot! I come back to this one again and again, see old faces, meet new ones; each time I think I can go a little faster. It's got me and it won't let go." 

On behalf of the Fred Whitton Challenge, event organiser, Paul Loftus recently became the 2014 recipient of Cumbria Tourism's Bernard Gooch Tourism Personality of the Year award. Paul was presented with the accolade at Cumbria Tourism's Annual General Meeting, held at the North Lakes Hotel, Penrith. 

Each year Cumbria Tourism's Commercial Members' Committee present the Bernard Gooch Tourism Personality of the Year Award in recognition of an individual or team who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution over and above their normal duties to enhance the visitor economy in Cumbria. 

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Loftus said: ''Being presented with the Bernard Gooch Award by Cumbria Tourism is a fitting recognition for something that we haven't set out to promote. The challenge is a fantastic way of remembering Fred Whitton; he was an inspiration, and introduced many people to cycling during his life. That's exactly what we continue to do as a club, and by running 'The Fred' we also get to introduce people to this fantastic cycling county from all over the UK, which Fred would have loved.

He continued: "It is thanks to our army of volunteers the event has grown, and because of their dedication and commitment we have been able to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity over the years, something that we are all immensely proud of and a fitting tribute to a great friend.''  

Sarah Ross, the new Chair of Cumbria Tourism's Commercial Members' Committee, added: ''Paul's dedication and commitment are inspiring, especially in light of the contribution he has made in helping to raise over £820,000 for charity to date. He and The Fred Whitton are a very deserving winner of the Bernard Gooch Tourism Personality of the Year Award 2014, for the outstanding contribution they have made to Cumbria." 

For more information about the event visit www.fredwhittonchallenge.co.uk.





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