Ballot entries open today for the Fred Whitton Challenge 2024.
Renowned as one of the UK's toughest sportives, the next edition takes place on Sunday 12 May 2024.
The high demand for places means entries are allocated via a ballot. This year's ballot is open from 1 December and will close at 8pm on 10 December 2023.
Entry costs £99 plus booking fee. Ballot results will be announced on 14 December.
You can enter the ballot at fredwhittonchallenge.co.uk.
The Fred Whitton will start and finish in the picturesque village of Grasmere, in the heart of the Lake District. At 112 miles in length and taking in a hefty puncheur's platter of Lakeland climbs, 'the Fred' (as it's known by veterans) has long been regarded as the ultimate UK sportive challenge.
First held in 1999, the ride is named after local cyclist Fred Whitton. With 3950m of climbing taking in all of the major passes in the Lake District National Park, it's a challenge that's easily the equal of international big hitters like La Marmotte.
The infamous climbs of Hardknott and Wrynose, with a 30% gradient coming at 98 miles, have helped to seal the Fred's status. While top riders complete the route in just under six hours, 11 hours and over is not unusual for the average sportive rider.
Plenty more riders each year fail to finish at all, and for those new to big sportives the organisers' words of warning are worth bearing in mind:
"The Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge is a tough day in the saddle across remote and mountainous terrain. Before entering, we always recommend you get experience in a 100 mile sportive and/or a hilly sportive with over 2800m of elevation gain to get a feel for the event."
Aside from the personal test of endurance, the Fred Whitton Challenge also benefits charity and all riders are encouraged to fundraise for Macmillan Cancer Care. The event has now raised well over £1 million for Macmillan and local charities over the past 20 years.
For full details and to enter the ballot visit www.fredwhittonchallenge.co.uk.