HUNDREDS of runners pounded their way around the Somerley Estate near Ringwood on Monday to burn off some festive calories.

The 11th event in aid of The Wessex Autistic Society, based in Christchurch, saw around 750 people take part in either a 10k or 5k course around the grounds of the stately home.

Family and friends had also turned out in the sunshine to cheer on the runners with both serious and amateur competitors joining in.

The 10k race got underway at 11am with the 5k starting just a few minutes afterwards.

And one competitor, ultra distance runner Sandra Bowers, proved a talking point running the course harnessed to two husky dogs.

It was her third time taking part in the run and she was rewarded with first place in the 5k race.

Louise Trott, community and events fundraiser, said: “This turned out to be another fantastic event for The Wessex Autistic Society.

“The weather was brilliant and we are so pleased with the turnout.

“Events like these are so important to supporting the charity and we’re grateful for all people do for us.”

Many people raised sponsorship for the event and everyone taking part received a medal, drink and chocolate at the end.

Louise added: “This was a great event to blow away the cobwebs from Christmas and as we move into the Olympic year, we hope events like this remain as popular as ever.”

The Wessex Autistic Society operates specialist education, social care and advocacy services throughout Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

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