History

Compiled by Nigel Barraclough TANNERS MARATHON 30 Miles in 10 Hours
The Tanners Marathon started in 1960 based at Tanners Hatch Youth Hostel and has been based in the area ever since and although it comes past its door every year the “start and finish” has been at Leatherhead Football club since 1965. It is a "challenge walk" on paths and tracks of the Surrey hills with a different route each year. These few pages will tell you a little a bit about the event, a little history, a few stories, mention a few of the characters, some of the places we have been past plus a few statistics. Perhaps for some of you it will bring back painful but happy memories, for others this may be the first time you heard of us - to all of you I hope you enjoy it.

Tanners has become part of our history and after nearly 50 years we like to think we are now part of the hostel’s, the football club’s and the local area’s history too and of course the LDWA’s as well!. Where and How Did It All Begin? The first Tanners Marathon was held in 1960 and grew from inspiration resulting from the walk of Barbara Moore from John O' Groats to Lands End organised by Billy Butlin. This walk meant the public imagination had been caught by the walking craze and after a certain amount of discussion the Outdoor Organizer of Epsom and Ewell YHA Group became the organizer of a 30 mile "challenge" walk. It was originally seen as a "once off" challenge for the "average" (if such a thing has ever existed) YHA member. "Public demand" and a request for non YHA members encouraged the second marathon to be organised and it has been going ever since.The first marathons were based at Tanners Hatch but then the start was moved to Leatherhead in 1965 where it has been ever since. Tanners Hatch Youth Hostel has always been part of the route but now it has become the last check point a few miles from the finish. 1967 saw the formation of the Tanners Marathon Association, a committee of 9 to organize the marathon which had become too big for the YHA group to handle.
1969 was the tenth anniversary of the walk and the first 50 mile event which was run in addition to the 30 every other year until 1989. A mini-marathon of 10 miles aimed at family groups was started in 1974. The 10 mile has occasionally included a quiz and has slowly grown in popularity ever since. One recent addition to the event (in 2004) has been a 20 mile route which basically consists of the outward and return legs of the 30 route – certainly it has been a popular addition. Sadly Alan Blatchford who started the event died in 1980 and is remembered in the form of a memorial award which the Tanners Marathon Association presents each year to someone who has contributed to the sprit of the event. One of my most enjoyable acts was to present this award to Sue Hodgson of All Saints School in Weymouth at a full school assembly. Alan is also remembered by an area of National Trust downland which was cleared and fenced as a result of donations given after his death. Chris Steer who had been attracted to the marathon by a postcard in Peaslake post office and who became part of the TMA died a few years ago. Like Alan he is remembered by a part of the North Downs called "Steer's Field" which is close to Ranmore Common. Both Alan and Chris (and Tanners Marathon) are commemorated at Pitch Hill.

A "winter" Tanners was started by John Westcott in 1981 as a proving event for the main marathon in the summer - and now attracts 100 - 200 people each year. That event is now run by the LDWA. Beckenham YHA Group who participated in the marathon for many years became part of the Tanners Marathon Association in 1984, although both Epsom and Ewell and Beckenham Groups are no longer active.Something we are grateful for are the relatively few casualties and those that we have had have been mostly minor ones. In 2001 there was one casualty – the event itself which we cancelled in the light of the foot and mouth crisis. The spirit of the marathon is an annual reunion to which new people are always welcome, there are trophies to be won, rivalries to be enjoyed but with the challenge of a 30 mile walk thrown in. The history of the Tanners Marathon, like the hostel from which it takes its name, is about the characters which take part in it - there are many stories to tell!A few statistics.......

• Number of Marathons (not including Winter Tanners): 47
• Largest Entry (1968) 1105
• Most Starters (1979) 924
• Most Finishers (1979) 770
• Most Finishers in under 10 hours (1979) 728
• Highest % in time (2004) 96.9%
• Lowest % in time (1997) 44%
• Most finishers from 1 team (1984) 42 (Croydon YHA)
• The wettest year 1988 It rained all day
• First wet start 1992
• The hottest years 1976, 1994 - amongst others
• Most marathon completions Dave Young 44
• Shortest Time by a Lady Hilary Walker (1995) 4 hours 33 minutes
• Shortest Time by a Man Chris Hurst (1981) 3 hours 39 minutes
• The Best time for a dog Digger (1988) 6 hours 54 minutes
• Total Completions in 45 events - 30 miles 17,117 (equivalent to 513 510 miles)
• Total Completions in 3 events - 20 miles 267 (equivalent to 5340 miles)
• Total Completions in 11 events - 50 miles 449 (equivalent to 22 450 miles)

A few anecdotes........ It would be wrong to mention performances too much because the challenge is to the individual but.....• Dave Young completed the 27th marathon with a broken toe• George and Pearl Bull completed the 1972 event in just over 10 hours - remarkable feat because George was blind and Pearl was his guide dog• John Westcott used to put up the arrows on Saturday then takes them all down again on the Sunday acting as "sweeper" along the way. Now they go up and come down over a couple of days• There are now 3 generations of the Virgo family involved with the marathon• Marathon T shirts were started in 1978 but every company that was used went bust within 12 months of receiving the order - until 1985 when we have used the same company ever since• In 1991 I solved the problem of the “long journey home” in a rather drastic way - I moved to within almost walking (staggering?) distance of the start and finish.• When the event first started people didn’t have cars and had to either walk or cycle home or go via Leatherhead or Westhumble railway station (but they had to walk there first !)• Had you laid bets on the weather you could have bet on “dry” rather than “wet” weather and won handsomely – you can count the wet years on the fingers of one hand!Tanners Routes and Logos - The route is a different one each year and since 1978 a landmark on the route has been used for the results cover and the T shirts, so what has been used ?......

• 1978 Leith Hill Tower
• 1979 Ranmore Church
• 1980 Holmbury Hill - Seat at the top
• 1981 Burford Bridge - Stepping stones
• 1982 Abinger Hammer Clock
• 1983 Wilberforce Cross
• 1984 Tanners Hatch Youth Hostel
• 1985 Shere Village
• 1986 Sutton (near Holmbury) Cottages
• 1987 Pitch Hill - windmill
• 1988 Polesdon lacey - bridge over track
• 1989 Peaslake - village sign
• 1990 The Nower - folly at the top
• 1992 St Martha's Hill - peacock weathervane
• 1993 Forest Green - jubilee village sign
• 1994 Telegraph Hill, Ockham Common - signal tower
• 1995 Pitch Hill - memorial to Alan Blatchford and Chris Steer
• 1996 St Jame’s Well, -Abinger Common
• 1997 Village Pump, Downside
• 1998 The Well, Holmbury
• 1999 Alan Blatchford famous legs
• 2000 Headley Church
• 2001 No event
• 2002 Westhumble Millennium sign
• 2003 Plough at Polesden Farm, Brockham
• 2004 Bridge at Polesden Lacey
• 2005 Hill Cottage, Wotton
• 2006 Reigate Heath, Windmill
• 2007 St Thomas Church, East Clandon

Trophy Winners – 30 mile Many teams have taken part - its not possible to mention them all, here are the ones who have won trophies.YHA Groups Trophy

• Croydon
• Guildford
• Finchley
• Beckenham
• TNT
• GLC
• Dunstable
• Walthamstow and Chingford

School's Trophy

• Rodborough CS School, Milford
• St Pauls CS School, Addlestone
• Peckham Manor School
• Rutlish School, Merton
• Nicholas Hawksmoor School
• John Fisher School
• Bexley-Erith Technical School
• Simon Langton, Canterbury
• Filton High School
• Henry Box, Witney
• Priory Middle School, Dunstable
• All Saints C of E School, Weymouth

Scout's Trophy

• Machu Picchu Ventures
• Hartley Wintney Ventures
• Quest Venture Unit
• Centurion VSU MASH
• 15th Wimbledon
• 16th Wimbledon
• 17th Morden
• Raynes Park VSU
• 16th Morden Scouts
• 1st Frimley Green Millar Troop
• 1st Morden Scouts
• 1st Blackwater Valley B-P Scout

Group Athletic & Orienteering Trophy

• Peter Symonds
• Southampton Orienteers
• SLOW Happy Herts
• Trico Ops
• East London Runners
• Feltham Puffer
• NWB Current accounts
• Met Police, Hendon
• Kingston RA
• Downs & Weald Rambling Club
• Highgate Harriers
• Blackheath Harriers
• DFOK
• Surrey Walking Club
• Woodford Green AC

20 mile trophy

• Barnet YHA

Alan Blatchford Memorial Trophy. This was created in memory of one of the people who started the event and is presented to someone (or group) who has made a contribution which is very much in “the spirit and traditions” of the event.

• Alan Melsom
• Chris Steer
• Auriol Middle School,
• Frank & Eileen Wall
• Eddie Waring Appreciation Society,
• John Harrison & John Gray,
• Dave Young
• St John Ambulance Brigade (Leatherhead)
• Graham Peddie (Warden Tanners Hatch Youth Hostel)
• Don Snoad Metropolitan Police Cadets, Hendon
• John Westcott
• 1st Blackwater Valley B-P Scout Group
• Susan Hodgson
• Liz Pamplin and family
• Penny Dewdney
• Maureen Lyons
• Marion (Mas) Crawford (1st Blackwater Valley BP Scouts)
• Paul Hart (Walthamstow and Chingford)
• Richard Llewellyn (1st Blackwater Valley BP Scouts)

A WORD OF THANKS...... The Tanners Marathon relies on the efforts of many people who contributed so much over the years, they would not seek gratification but I will mention a few in no particular order..... Graham Peddie, Alan & Barbara Blatchford, Chris Steer, Frank & Eileen Wall, the various members of the Tanners Marathon Association and their sons and daughters, John Westcott, Jim & Jean Chaplin (the wardens of Tanners Hatch before Graham), the YHA groups, Athletic Clubs, LDWA and Scout groups and schools, all the: marshals, road watchers, drinks pourers, St John Ambulance (who have attended almost every event), Leatherhead FC, and all of you who have taken part. The only thing I am certain about is that there are many others I have missed so apologies but thanks very much.FINALLY....... DO YOU WANT TO ENTER ? PLEASE CONTACT ALAN VIRGO: by post (sending a sae) or see the entry page on this web site, or COME ON THE DAY (the 1st Sunday in July at Leatherhead FC) TANNERS MARATHON ASSOCIATION