ONE of Hampshire's biggest sporting events has been cancelled amid fears it may never take place again.

Organisers of the New Forest Marathon have unexpectedly called off this year's race, blaming rising costs and a lack of entrants.

In a statement released on the event's website, the organisers said the decision made “with much regret.”

The statement said: “Over the past few years fewer runners have been signing up to take part and the loss of entry fees, our main source of income, has been considerable.”

It added: “While entries have declined, expenses have risen sharply to the point where the 2013 event just managed to pay the bills! We made no profit and therefore were unable to make our usual donation to charity.”

They also say rival events have been scheduled in the area around the marathon's traditional September slot.

The volunteer-run event began in 1982 and has raised more than £1.5m for charity over the years.

But the number of runners last year was almost 50 per cent less than the 3,000 people who ran in 2012.

Organisers hope to bring it back in 2015 but said it was more likely to be a half marathon.