ORGANISERS of the annual New Forest Marathon say they are confident this year's race will go ahead.

The event, which attracts around 5,000 runners from across the south, is not due to take place until September 13.

In a statement the organisers said: “The coronavirus pandemic has paved a fairly unpredictable pathway.

"We know how important the New Forest Marathon event is to the community and therefore we are doing everything possible to be able to navigate that path and bring you a safe enjoyable event in September.

“We fully anticipate the event going ahead.

"We have created a number of contingency options to ensure we meet government guidelines and keep attendees, staff and volunteers safe. At this point we are however in the hands of the government and await further guidance on events.”

The marathon is based at the huge New Park showground in Brockenhurst.

Organisers say it offers a large expanse of space, making it easier to accommodate the needs of people complying with social distancing rules.

The statement added: "The event is restricted to 5,000 runners – small in comparison to other running events such as London or Brighton. Running 5,000 runners through the Forest is very different than running 30,000 through a city."

Over the last 35 years the marathon has raised more than £1.31m for local good causes.

"It is absolutely imperative to us to see this pot continue to grow to support all the superb organisations that exist within the New Forest and surrounding areas," the statement said.