Ipswich East Rotary Club has announced the date of the next Orwell Challenge which is scheduled for Sunday 17th June 2018.

The Orwell Walk will be be staged with three main routes to chose from, but with checkpoints every 2 to 3 miles, entrants can decide how far they wish to go. The three main routes are Levington Loop (12 miles), Fishponds Folly (19 miles) or Orwell 25(25 miles). There is an optional finish route for runners wishing to complete a marathon length trail run. A free medal and a certificate will be awarded to each entrant on their return to HQ.

Entry Fee is only £15 for adults and £10 for children of 12 years and under. There will be a 20% discount for those registering early.

Start Times for Walkers: HQ opens at 7am for the walkers to start at 7:30am. The last departure for those walking the full 25 miles is 9am, but those walking a shorter route may leave up until 10:30am. High tide may mean that late starters will be transported to an appropriate Checkpoint.

Start Times for Marathon Runners: HQ opens at 6.30am for runners to start at 7:00am. All runners must be off by 7:30am

The Orwell Cycle Ride will be staged with 2 routes to chose from, a short route (5 miles) and a medium route (15 miles).

Start Time for Cyclists: HQ opens at 8am for the cyclists to start at 8am. The last departure for those riding the full 15 miles is 9am, but those riding the shorter route may leave up until 10am. 

Terrain: The route has some on-road stretches but is mainly off-road. Narrow tyres are not, therefore, suitable and it is recommended that only Mountain Bicycles should be used on the ride.

The Orwell Walk, the Orwell Marathon Run and the Orwell Cycle Ride will begin and end at Gainsborough Sports Centre but will be separate from each other and each will be fully marshalled. There are regular checkpoints along the way where free refreshments are available for all. Volunteers from Ipswich East Rotary Club, their Associate Members are on hand to lend support and for any walkers, runners or cyclists who feel they have reached their maximum distance and need to be transported back to base.

Last year we had 100's of entrants, all raising money for their chosen charities or for Ipswich East Rotary Club, the organisers. The three events will begin and end at Gainsborough Sports Club where there will be ample free parking and free refreshments at either end of the routes.

This year’s main sponsor is The East of England Co-Op

Those interested in registering for either of the events you can do so by clicking here online.

Walkers, Runners and cyclists are encouraged to wear bright colours if they wish, emphasising the colour they bring to the charities they support. To register for the Orwell Walk or Cycle ride you can do so here online.

The Orwell Walk, Orwell Marathon Run and Orwell Cycle routes pass through some of the most delightful countryside, woodland and shores of the Orwell Estuary.

The route is well signposted and marshalled and has checkpoints every three or four miles, where drinks, a smiling face and toilet facilities are provided.

Half Marathon and Marathon FAQs


Are these official races?

We have been granted permits by the Trail Running Association, which is affiliated to UK Athletics. The full marathon event will shortly also listed by the 100 Marathon Club and complies with their requirements. Results are posted on RunBritain / Powerof10 so should automatically link to club runners' profiles.


Can I enter on the day?

Yes, but come along early at 6:30am and be prepared to wait for a few minutes.

Where do the races start and finish?

Registration on the day and the start and finish will be at the Gainsborough Sports Centre Pipers Vale, Ipswich, IP3 0SP.  There will be ample free parking for participants and supporters.


What time do the races start?

7:00am, but runners can start any time between 7:00 and 7:30am as these events will be chip-timed. There will be a strict cut off time for starting the run due to the tidal effect down on the estuary. No one will be allowed to start the marathon run after 8.30 am, so do arrive early!


The majority of the Orwell Challenge participants are walkers, how will you manage runners and walkers out on the course at the same time?

Runners will set off ahead of the walkers.  There is a short stage, mid-section near Levington, where outward (walkers) and inward (runners) paths meet but otherwise the route will be clear for runners.


I’ve not taken part in an event like this before, will I get lost?

Both routes are well marked.  Additionally, if you have a GPS watch which supports gpx maps, feel free to download the routes from our website.

How different is a trail marathon to a road marathon, what should I expect?

Forget the time. Trail marathons are unique. This one has some short road sections but otherwise in woodland trail, fields, gravel paths and the river shoreline. You will also probably stop for a few minutes at the checkpoints to drink and snack.  Unless you really want it to be, this generally isn’t about time, but if you want a guide we would suggest this will add 15-25% to your road marathon time.

Should I wear trail shoes?

In June we would expect the off road sections to be well packed, but as we saw in 2016, the temperamental British weather can play trick on us, so it could be a mud bath again.  If the forecast is fair the chances are you can go into these events in old road shoes, but suitable trail shoes are always preferred.


What about road sections and traffic?

There are only a few short road sections and crossing.  But these are very light with traffic and will be marshalled. They are also noted to road traffic with Police signage.


Is there a cut off time?

Yes. For the run we expect all participants to be able to complete the marathon within a 7 hour period and no one will be allowed to start the marathon run after 8.30am

Are there any farm animals we might encounter?
There are none on the route.

Are there water and food stations on the course?
There will be 10 checkpoints along the full marathon route and 5 along the half marathon route.  Bottles of water will be available at the start and we very strongly recommend that you carry a bottle or bladder which you can drink from between checkpoints. All checkpoints have water and squash available. Some will have snack available and there will also be the opportunity to purchase hot drinks and more substantial food at Levington Creek checkpoint

Are there changing and showering facilities available?

Yes at Gainsborough Sports Centre. Please ask Registration officers for details.


Can I get something to eat and drink afterwards?

Yes. There are hot drinks and biscuits available free of charge and there will also be a burger van available at the finish.


Can I get a massage afterwards?

Yes. This is being arranged – again please ask the registration officers.


Is there a medal and goody bag?

Yes. This is for all marathon and half marathon competitors, and will include a medal and T-Shirt.


What about medical cover and support?
A small event like this can't finance dedicated medical support. You should already be an experienced runner, capable of running your chosen distance. Obviously accidents can happen and the quickest way of accessing qualified help will always be to dial 999 - we require that all runners carry a mobile phone for this reason. We may be able to assist with more minor issues (we do have a number of qualified first aiders and doctors positioned around the course). A lift back to base is available from every checkpoint when required. Please ask a Marshall for assistance. Clearly we cannot guarantee an immediate response that with the limited resources available, so the ability to phone a friend or a taxi in a less pressing crisis would still be really useful, but remember you must report back to registration whether you complete the course or not as we have to be able to track all competitors at all times.

Tell me about the Rotary Club and how it supports charities?

Rotary is a worldwide organisation which was founded in Chicago, USA in 1905. Club membership is by invitation and is made up of a cross-section of business and professional men and women.

Clubs exist to offer fellowship between business people and to serve the local community. Its motto is ‘Service above self’

Rotary members are enthusiastic, fun-loving and active volunteers who give their time and talents to serve communities both at home and overseas. These are dedicated people, men and women from business and professions, who share a common interest in helping others.


Our Club Ipswich East donates approximately £25000 to deserving charities each year at home and abroad. The Orwell Challenge has enabled local organisations to raise £2m in it 40 year history.


Can I raise funds separately for my own choice of charity?
Yes, all profits from your entry fee go to the charities supported by the Rotary Club of Ipswich East, but you are welcome to raise funds separately for your own chosen charity.