In the early 1970’s, while serving with the British Army in Germany, Glen Moulds (founder) entered and completed the famous Nijmegan Marches several times. These 4 day walks have been going for nearly a century and make up the world’s largest walking event with over 50,000 entrants each year and one million people going to watch them, making it the largest sporting event in Holland.
After Glen turned 50 he was looking for a personal challenge and remembered the Nijmegan Marches, so, with permission from the Nijmegan Committee he copied the 4 day walks starting and finishing from his own purpose built sports facility The Academy Health & Fitness Centre in the village of Barrow, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
In 2009 and 2010 the Challenge only covered walking over various distances: 6, 10, 15 or the full 26.2 miles each day. At the end of 2010 Glen was approached by several friends James Heath a triathlete from Barrow and Glenn Morris a cyclist from Bury St Edmunds to add ‘running’ and ‘cycling’ to the event. The Great Barrow Challenge was born.
In 2012 The Great Barrow Challenge was then put on 4 times a year adding the Christmas, Spring, Summer and Great Barrow Challenge, still a 4 day event.
At the end of the 2013 challenge Glen was approached by Kate Jayden, Rik Vercoe, Simon Illingworth, and some of the other serious marathon runners and asked to put on a 10 marathons in 10 days. Glen obviously thought they were mad but quickly jumped on board and accepted the challenge. In order to concentrate on this he cancelled the cycling part of the challenge and concentrated on the running with distances of 6, 10, 15 and 26.2 miles. He now had the blessing of the 100 Marathon Club UK and Ireland.
2014 was epic! It saw the first 10 marathons in 10 days multi terrain in the UK and possibly Europe with 15 runners completing the full 10 days (see Roll of Honour and Class of 2014)
It was during this event that Glen decided to increase the challenges by losing the 6, 10 and 15 mile options and only putting on marathon distances. The Academy was nicknames 'Snickerland' (marathons only)....you have to be the right age!
In 2015 Nick Collins came on board properly as Course Director charged with making some new courses, and freshen some up. New maps and instruction guides were created to help runners navigate round our 5 new routes which now interweave each other. Due to the spread of the course it was now time to assign each route with its own route sticker colour to aid navigation. Nick also computerised all our registration, run time capture and results, due to the event growing significantly in numbers we couldn't continue with manual recording.
2015 now saw the first 10 in 10 Ultra distances of 32 miles as well as the our 2nd 10 in 10 marathon distances on top of keeping the original 4 in 4 quads for running and walking. Individual days are also still available to comply with 100 Marathon Club rules.
End of 2015 we bought back the popular Christmas event, but this time we made it a 3 day event, which went down a treat. We also bought Patrick onboard as Checkpoint Manager to run and all the checkpoint crews and stock control. We now offer free entrance to our races for each day someone helps marshall a checkpoint......this helps us, and helps you all too.
So on the back of 2015's success we bought back our Spring and Autumn events, but this time as double days. Nick designed two brand new 'All Road' courses for these events, which are now using one of them for the 10in10 to give some of our regulars a new challenge too.
2016 now gives the chance for runners to run 17 marathons at GBC. Who will be the first to do a series full sweep ?
Finally, we are looking to franchise this winning formular. We are holding talks with our Ambassadors and some keen runners who want to open up a couple more races throughout the country - stay tuned.
Founder of GBC
and Race Director
2016 crew - left to right: Patrick, Glen, Nick