The Balcombe Bull Run

News and Blog

Our dedicated supporters come up with all sorts of different ways to fundraise for us, like Mat and Michelle Record, who raise money for us though a run with a difference: The Balcombe Bull Run! 

The event is so popular that this year will be the tenth time they have organised their cross country run in and around their home village of Balcombe.  

Mat took time out to tell us about the event, why they chose to support the hospice and where the name came from. 

When did the event first start? 

We started the event in 2014. It was a response to two things. Firstly, I used to do a lot of running around Balcombe, and it’s the most wonderful countryside with lots of mixed terrain. Secondly, it coincided with a period when my children were in primary school and I was a Governor at the school and Michelle and I talked about how great it would be if we could bring more people into the village to see what a wonderful community we’ve got here. 

We hatched upon the idea of a cross country run because it’s such a lovely place. Most running events are run on a road in a town, whereas this is very, very different, it’s unique. It’s very rural, and the 7km route allows the runners to see all of the amazing countryside as well as amazing properties and farms which are tucked away, that you don’t normally see if you stick to the main roads. 

So where did the Bull Run name come from? 

I’m a marketeer by background, so I didn’t want to just call it the cross country run! The name came from the end of the run when the route takes you through a massive field. In the summertime it’s full of cattle and livestock but in the wintertime, when we do the run, the cows are all in the cattlesheds and as you run past the farm you can see one large bull. Rumour has it that the bull is called Maximus! So Maximus became our emblem, and the Bull Run was born. 

Mat and Michelle smiling at the camera wearing a hat shaped like a bull's head
Mat and Michelle

How many people can take part in the event? 

Previously we capped numbers to 150 runners but this year, because it’s the tenth event, we’ve decided to increase participants to 200. It’s open to adults and juniors aged 11-18.  

There’s no age limit, the oldest competitor that I’m aware of was my mother who was 76 when she took part! It’s open to anyone, although we try to get everyone to complete it within an hour, so it’s very doable for people at the start of their running journey. You don’t need to be Sebastian Coe, you just need to have a bit of determination. The course is very hilly with a total ascent of 600 feet. The record to complete the course is 27 minutes! 

Why did you choose to support St Catherine’s? 

Michelle’s mother, Janice, was looked after by St Catherine’s at the end of her life. She was cared for at home and then she died in the hospice the day after her 72nd birthday. So, in 2017 we decided that the event was a great way to give back and recognise all the amazing work that the staff and carers did at St Catherine’s. Michelle and I feel a very close affinity to the charity, we have such an emotional connection, and we feel strongly that people need to support it. You never know when you’re going to need its services or if someone close to you will need them. 

Since we started supporting St Catherine’s we have raised in the region of £5,000 and we hope to raise a further £2,000 from this year’s event. £10 of every registration fee goes directly to St Catherine’s as well as all the profits from the refreshments sold on the day. 

What would you say to anyone who is considering taking part?

Do it! You’ll walk away with the biggest smile on your face. It’s very different to a lot of other runs. It feels very intimate, and everyone goes into the school hall afterwards for tea and cake and prize giving. Plus, every competitor gets a cow bell medal when they finish – no other race does that – it’s a lot of fun! 

The Balcombe Bull Run takes place on Sunday 12 March. To find out more, visit the Balcombe Run Facebook page or to register for the event click here