NEARLY 2,000 people took part in the Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge on Sunday - bringing the event's fundraising total over the years to nearly £2million.

This is the 22nd time the spectacular cycle sportive - said to be the toughest in the UK - has been staged.

It is a not-for-profit event, delivered by volunteers with the sole aim to raise as much money as possible for its charities.

These include: Macmillan Cancer Research, Duddon and Furness Mountain Rescue, North West Air Ambulance and the Great North Air Ambulance.

Times and Star: FINISH: Riders head home, having completed the epic sportiveFINISH: Riders head home, having completed the epic sportive

The 112-mile route involves more than 12,000ft of ascent, starting at Grasmere and taking in the climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott, Wrynose and Blea Tarn passes.

It was created 22 years ago, in honour of the late Fred Whitton who was a great advocate for cycle sport in Cumbria and North Lancashire.

First man home on Sunday was Giles Drake, in 5.36. First lady was Jenny Brown, in 6.46.

Event manager Josh O'Boyle said: "This year the event welcomed 1,966 starters. After two years of the event being impacted by the pandemic, it was fantastic to see it back at full strength.

Times and Star: DELIGHT: A rider completes the courseDELIGHT: A rider completes the course

"It's a unique community ride, with riders covering some of the most difficult passes in the Lake District. "

More than 300 volunteers helped out on the route, at feed stations and at HQ in Grasmere.

"Over the last few years the event has been creeping closer to it’s £2 million fundraising goal, once the funds have bene counted and distributed in the next few weeks we will be able to share with the public if this was the year the goal was met," said Josh.

"We would like to thank all our volunteers, sponsors and helpers for putting on another special edition of the ride."

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