MAC 4X4 CHALLENGE HAS RUN ITS COURSE
THE ORGANISERS OF the Macmillan 4x4 Challenge have announced that the event is to be discontinued. Having raised some £1.4
million for the cancer charity since its inception in 2002, the annual trail run has become an institution in the off-road calendar – however
with signs of dwindling support, Peter Rowland of Macmillan Cancer Support and and Selwyn Kendrick of Marches 4x4 Motorsport have
decided to go out on a high. The event, which was conceived in 2000 but delayed first by that year’s fuel crisis and then by 2001’s foot and mouth epidemic, initially saw just a handful of competitors taking part. It was initially forecast to raise £5000 – but during its lifespan it outgrew its organisers’ wildest expectations, visiting every corner of the UK and welcoming entries in more than fifty different makes of 4x4.
We contacted Peter Rowland for a comment on why he had decided to discontinue the event and received the following extremely thorough response: ‘When the dust had settled after this year’s event Selwyn and I had a very long discussion on where we went from here. We had had a very slow sign-up this year compared with the past. Having put out the details a month after the 2016 event as usual, we only had 29 positive entries by Christmas – we had advertised the fact that we were going to Ireland, which has always been a very attractive incentive in
the past, so were very disappointed by the uptake.
‘Admittedly the entry fee was £250, to go towards the extra cost of the ferry, instead of the more usual £150 for an England, Wales or Scotland event. But it has been £250 when we’ve been to Ireland before, with no adverse comment.
‘We eventually had 38 teams competing, virtually all returning teams, after a lot of effort and several changes of heart. This was the lowest since 2003, when we had 35, and compares with 2014 when we had 84. Those returning teams have been great in their enthusiasm and support but it comes down to them raising money from the same friends and contacts every year, which gets more difficult, and some couldn’t even raise the £600 sponsorship which we set as a minimum requirement.
‘I know from my work with Macmillan and other charities such as BHF, Prostate Cancer and Cancer Research, that it has been getting much harder to fill the required numbers in a variety of events both in UK and overseas. My wife is a cyclist and several of the events she has entered, or wanted to enter, have had to be cancelled because of a lack of sufficient entries to make the events viable.
‘Closer to home in the motorsport arena, the Help the Heroes European event, which was spawned originally from Mac competitors, was closed down two years ago for the same reason – dwindling support.
‘So, we concluded that it was better to go now rather than let the event just fizzle out. I’ve discussed the closure with the Chief Exec of Macmillan, who has always given the event her support, and she is aware of the situation and our reasoning.
‘It has been very hard to make the decision, for us both. But we feel it’s best to go out on a high, with lots of great memories – and the satisfaction that we’ve contributed some £1.4 million to a great charity.’
Following the announcement of the event’s closure on its social media channels, a wide variety of current and former Macmillan competitors
commented on their desire to support a phoenix event. The given reasons for the Mac’s demise do suggest somewhat that this may prove hard work, and the organisers have indicated that they won’t be willing to let its name and logos be used to this purpose – however with the news provoking a wide outpouring of sadness among the event’s many friends, there certainly is no shortage of sympathy for the cause of keeping its spirit alive.