Chariots of Fire
This year will see the region's longest running fundraising event raise money for the Papworth Hospital Charity.
Teams of six runners, each run a 1.7 mile course in relay format following the unique and picturesque route starting and finishing at Queens' Green and covering the city centre, Trinity College, Clare College, King's College and crossing the River Cam.
The charity race follows in the heroic footsteps of the famous film “Chariots of Fire”. The film tells the story of Harold Abrahams, a Cambridge runner, and his bid to win a gold medal in the 1924 Olympics. It includes the iconic scene of the race around Trinity College Great Court.
The first charity race took place in 1992 and was the initial idea of Bill Matthews, Race Director for many years, who joined the committee of a local charity and was looking for fundraising ideas. Watching the famous film re-kindled memories of an earlier trip to Olympia in the Peloponnese and he came up with the inspired idea of a local charity fund-raising race in the vein of the Chariots of Fire film.
Although not at Trinity College Great Court, the first race took place in the grounds of the The Perse School. On the day of the race even the persistent rain could not dampen the spirits of the 77 teams whose heroic efforts raised £17,000 for the charity.
The race moved to its current location at Queen’s Green in the town centre the following year to incorporate a scenic route through the streets of the city and Trinity College. In 2007, Kings and Clare colleges added their support to the event and the route now takes in all three colleges.
The event’s Honorary President for many years was Sir Arthur Marshall, a veteran from the 1924 Olympic team whose exploits are celebrated in the film. His son, Sir Michael Marshall, has taken over this role, following Sir Arthur’s death in 2007.
Lord Puttnam, creator of the film “Chariots of Fire,” started the race in 2003 and said;
“I am very proud of the fact that, twenty five years after its production, Chariots of Fire is still proving its value by, among other things, helping to raise money for charities in Cambridgeshire year after year after year. It must have struck a chord for I know of no other film that manages to evoke the same, entirely positive reaction”.
Over the course of its history Chariots of Fire has raised over £1 million for a variety of worthy causes.
This year, all sponsorship monies raised by the participants will go to Papworth Hospital Charity who Through Chariots of Fire, are seeking to respond to the worldwide shortage of donor hearts and have identified a new source - known as non-beating heart donors. This could increase the number of hearts available for transplantation by 40% and save hundreds of lives internationally as the heart transplant waiting list continues to grow.
Their innovative and ground-breaking technique enables surgeons to utilise donor hearts which were previously considered too damaged to transplant. However, in order to deliver this technique the hospital needs to secure funding; the programme has only been made possible through the generosity of charitable gifts.
The charity have set a fundraising target of £120k for this year’s Chariots of Fire race, please help them achieve their ambition target by entering a team and raising sponsorship money.