Entries for this year's Fred Whitton Challenge are now open. Or at least, entries to the ballot are open: with only 2,000 bibs available, the organisers are once again running a lottery to allocate places for this legendary cycling trial taking in all the Lakeland passes. If you fancy giving it a go, the ballot is open until Thursday 17th January at www.fredwhittonchallenge.co.uk.

Tackle a legend: the Fred Whitton Challenge includes an ascent of the infamous Hardknott Pass.
Tackle a legend: the Fred Whitton Challenge includes an ascent of the infamous Hardknott Pass.

The 2019 edition of the Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge takes place on Sunday 12th May. Famed for its difficulty, the 112-mile route has become a classic since its first edition in 1999.

The Fred, as it's affectionately known by survivors, is rated as one of the UK's toughest sportives, with 3950m of climbing taking in all of the major passes in the Lake District National Park.

The infamous climbs of Hardknott and Wrynose, with a 30% gradient at 98 miles, have sealed the event's status as a challenge on par with continental cyclosportives like La Marmotte. Top riders complete the route in just under six hours, but eleven hours and over is not uncommon for the average sportive rider.

Paul Loftus, Chair of the Steering Group, says; "Opening the ballot is always an exciting time for us. We're looking forward to show more first timers, and overseas riders the fantastic riding there is to be found in The Lakes, and of course there's always such camaraderie amongst our die-hard regular riders."

Nick Rusling, CEO of Human Race, days; "We are amazed every year at the appetite for The Fred. Again, we have seen record numbers of charity entries this year for our local charities, which shows that the appetite is still growing. We look forward to showing off this new UNESCO World Heritage Site in all its glory."

All riders are encouraged to fundraise for Macmillan Cancer Care. The Fred Whitton Challenge has now raised well over £1 million for Macmillan and local charities.

The ballot will close at midnight on Thursday 17th January. For more details and to throw your name in the hat, visit www.fredwhittonchallenge.co.uk.