AS thousands lace up their running shoes for the New Forest Marathon this weekend, the Echo looks back at pictures from the event 20 years.

As reported previously in the Echo, this year's event will be held in Dorset.

Taking place September 25-26, the New Forest Marathon will set off from St Giles House in Wimborne instead of Brockenhurst for the second year running, after Covid restrictions forced its relocation.

Last year, the New Forest Marathon was one of the UK’s only running events to meet Covid requirements and go ahead in physical form. This did, however, mean relocating approximately 25 miles to Dorset.

Organisers have stated that the marathon will return home to the New Forest Park Showground in Brockenhurst next year.

But back on September 9, 2001, when these pictures were taken, roads and lanes in the New Forest were the scene of straining sinews and dogged determination.

More than 2,000 runners took part in the event and over £7,000 for charity.

People aged from 17 to 87 queued up at the race starting line, outside the Arnewood Recreation Centre in Gore Road, New Milton, with almost 500 entrants opting for the full 26-mile course and the rest running the half-marathon.

New Forest Marathon and half marathon........Pictured is the main event ....The Marathon....

New Forest Marathon and half marathon........Pictured is the main event ....The Marathon....

The scenic route took in the likes of Burley, Brockenhurst and Sway before ending back in New Milton.

New Forest Runners' member Christian Olden came home first in the full event, in a time of two hours 36 minutes, with Poole man John Phillips completing the half marathon in the top time of one hour 14 minutes.

While some ran in support of their own good causes, overall sponsorship proceeds were divided between the NSPCC, The Meningitis Trust and the Lymington-based Oakhaven Hospice.