The distance, the amount of climbing, the history, the worst bits, the course record time, the rules – it’s all here. Good luck to anyone attempting it!
1. What is the Fred Whitton Challenge?
It’s an annual charity cycling sportive held in the Lake District in aid of MacMillan Nurses and the Dave Rayner Fund. It is held in memory of Fred Whitton. It’s regarded as the hardest sportive in the UK.
2. Who was Fred Whitton?
He was the racing secretary of the Lakes Road Club. He died of cancer in 1998 at the age of 50.
3. When did the Fred Whitton Challenge start?
The first event was held in 1999. Since then it has been an annual occurrence (apart from 2001 which was cancelled due to the foot and mouth epidemic).
4. How long is the route?
The route totals 112 miles – 180km. Riding through all the Lakeland passes, riders climb around 3950m in total. There are sections reaching a gradient of 30%! You can start at any time between 6am and 8am but there is a cut-off time of 12:00noon at the 60 mile mark (Braithwaite).
5. What’s the route?
The main hills are (in order): Kirkstone Pass, Honister Pass, Newlands Pass, Whinlatter Pass, Hardknott Pass, Wrynose Pass.
The full route is as follows: Grasmere, Ambleside, Kirkstone Pass, Patterdale, Glenridding, Matterdale End, Troutbeck, Keswick, Borrowdale, Rosthwaite, Seatoller, Honister Pass, Buttermere, Newlands Pass, Braithwaite, Whinlatter Pass, Lorton, Scales Hill, Loweswater, Fangs Brow, Croasdale, Ennerdale Bridge, Cold Fell, Swarth Fell, Calder Bridge, Gosforth, Santon Bridge, Irton Pike, Eskdale Green, Boot, Hardknott Pass, Wrynose Pass, Little Langdale, Elterwater, Skelwith Bridge, Ambleside, Grasmere.
If that’s not a good enough description, check out this video.
** We advise not to listen to the music because it’s shockingly awful. **
6. What’s the worst bit?
Hardknott Pass (max gradient of 30-33%). Ouch!
7. What’s the record time?
An insane 5 hrs 40 mins set by Rob Jebb and James Dobbin in 2008.
8. How many enter?
9. What’s not allowed?
No tri-bars. No support vehicles. Tandems are allowedthough.
10. Is anyone from Merlin Cycles doing it?
Yep. Dan Chapman and Mike Foster.
Are you doing The Fred? Have you done it before? Please leave a comment below with any thoughts or advice you may have.