HUNDREDS of soldiers have taken part in challenges around some of the most picturesque sports in North Yorkshire - in the most gruelling way imaginable.

The 15-stage Race the Sun event involved 29 teams of military personnel running, cycling, marching, swimming and kayaking over 182 miles of North Yorkshire’s most scenic roads, forests and lakes between sunrise and sunset.

The legs included a hill run up the steep ascent of Sutton Bank, a mountain bike ride through Cropton Forest up on to Levisham Moor, a forced march with heavy pack to Rievaulx Moor and a swim across the Great Lake at Castle Howard.

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It also involving kayaking along the River Ouse in York, a 24km cycle and a 6km run from the lakeside at Castle Howard, to the outskirts of York.

The day’s finale was a gruelling 3km stretcher race carrying a 40kg load around Imphal Barracks in York.

Participants came from all over the UK for yesterday’s (Thursday, May 29) national event and also included a team of Dutch marines.

Staff Sergeant Mel Burnham, from Darlington, who is serving in the 243 Signal Squadron in Andover, said after swimming across the Castle Howard lake: “The swim was ok and not too cold. It was only the second time I have done something like this.”

Lieutenant Colonel Ian Hargreaves, the Commanding Officer of 2 Signal Regiment based in York, which hosted and organised the event, said: “Race the Sun is an arduous challenge that makes huge demands of our soldiers. Their physical stamina, their teamwork and their sheer determination is what gets them through.”

The 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, based in York, won the Race the Sun minor units trophy. The major unit shield was presented to 30 Signal Regiment based in Bramcote, Nuneaton.