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The D-Day 44 Challenge is a unique 44 mile run or 22 mile walk that commemorates the 1944 Allied invasion of occupied France close to the anniversary of D-Day. This year it will be held on the 5th – 7th June.

 

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The D-Day 44 Challenge stretches for an astonishing 44-miles. It takes you through corn, wheat and barley fields. It hugs the Normandy coastline taking you over sand dunes, through marsh land as well as pebble beaches. You will follow forgotten paths and rocky outcrops and beautiful Norman villages. These are all set alive during this first week of June with people from all over the world driving WWII vehicles and some even wear old WWII uniforms. Amongst these people are hundreds of war veterans, some of whom lived through D-Day and proudly wear their medals and tell their amazing stories.

 

 

The D-Day 44 Challenge commemorates the 1944 Allied invasion of occupied France. For those of us who are passionate about adventure and sporting challenges, the D-Day 44 Challenge offers us the perfect opportunity to indulge these passions. The walk/run allows us to appreciate fully the sacrifices made by our forefathers as well as current servicemen who have bravely fought to protect our way of life.

 

The bomb craters at Pointe du Hoc

 

The picture above is of Giles Barnes (civilian) and Michael McErlain (military), co-founders of the D-Day 44 Run. Their aim was to have as many people as possible participate in the event each year on June 6th. Sadly, Lt Col Mike McErlain died while running the Normandy Beaches on the 6th June 2013, but the event returns in 2019 as the D-Day 44 Challenge with the blessing of Mike’s widow, Jo, and is now supporting the charities Combat Stress and Blind Veterans UK as well as BLESMA.

 

D-Day 44 Run map

 

 

The route starts at the Pointe du Hoc. This is where Colonel Rudder led an elite group of 200 rangers up the chalk cliffs using ropes and ladders. After dispatching the German sentries at the top of the cliff, their mission was to find and destroy large battery guns. This action was crucial as these large guns were capable of firing shells several miles out to sea and would therefore have claimed many men’s lives who would be arriving at Utah beach the following morning. After destroying the guns, but alerting a large German infantry force, Colonel Rudder and his men fought bravely with their backs to the sea and suffered large casualties, not only at the hands of the German infantry force but also due to friendly fire coming from naval ships at sea. Colonel Rudder and 30 of his men survived the mission.

 

D-Day Run 2008 - (15)
Cornfields, a feature of the Normandy campaign that led to many Allied casualties as they pushed forwards against German troops well camouflaged in the hedgerows with well set-up lines of fire across the tall wheat. They make for heavy going when running !

 

D-Day Run 2008 - (28)
Steep inclines start putting participants through their paces at this stage, two miles out of Arromanches.

 

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The unforgettable descent into Arromanches. Participants s get a fantastic view of this beautiful Norman village and looking out to sea, the emotive scene of what is left of the Mulberry harbours. These were huge sections of floating concrete roads dragged across from Britain and fastened together at Arromanches forming a temporary harbour for ships to unload their cargo in support of the soldiers who had recently landed on the beaches. Over 19 million tonnes of supplies were off-loaded at the Mulberry Harbour of Arromanches.

 

The end at Cafe Gondre - (5)
It is here at Pegasus Bridge that the epic D-Day 44 Challenge comes to a conclusion. Quite appropriately the official finishing post is a cafe awash with champagne. Café Gondrée was also the first house to be liberated in WWII and had been saving their supply of champagne, hidden away from the Germans in the cellar, to shower upon the heroes who liberated them. Mrs Gondrée inherited the cafe from her father and remembers with pride when the British commandos knocked on her door.

 

Want to join in?

TAKE THE CHALLENGE…

Choose from either a 44 mile ultra run or a 22 mile walk and either one of the following payment options: 

Option 1 (Minimum Sponsorship) – You pay a £150 registration fee and agree to raise £1,000 sponsorship for either Blesma,The Limbless Veterans, Blind Veterans UK or Combat Stress.

Option 2 (Own Place) – You pay a £150 registration fee, plus £340 for the balance of the tour costs and agree to raise £500 sponsorship. You will be invoiced for the tour cost 8 weeks before the event

You can go to any one of the three charities’ sites to join up. Here are the links:

https://blesma.org/support-us/find-an-event/running/d-day-44-challenge/

https://www.blindveterans.org.uk/get-involved/d-day-44-challenge/

https://www.combatstress.org.uk/support-us/d-day-44-challenge

 

Good luck on the day!!

 

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