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11th February 2015

Chariots of Fire rasies £1million!

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One of Cambridgeshire’s largest annual charity events, the Chariots of Fire relay race, has announced that it has raised over £1 million for local and regional charities since the event started in 1992.

Hewitsons Charitable Trust, the charity established and supported by leading law firm Hewitsons which organises and manages Chariots of Fire, made the announcement after the fundraising totals from the 2014 race, totals from previous races, were counted and verified.

Since its launch, an estimated 6,245 teams have taken part in the race, with approximately 37,470 individual runners pitting themselves against each other. The Chariots of Fire charity race follows in the footsteps of the famous film, with teams of six each running the scenic 1.7 mile course in a relay format through the streets and colleges of Cambridge, which include Clare, Kings and Trinity.

Each year a different local charity is selected as the official beneficiary from the race, with last year’s charity Arthur Rank Hospice Charity being presented with a cheque for £70,000. Previous charity recipients include Barnardo’s, Emmaus, East Anglian Air Ambulance, Home-Start Cambridge, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, Cam Sight and The Papworth Trust amongst a selection of worthwhile charities.

Charles Hewitsons, senior partner at Hewitsons law firm and the Race Director, said: “When the race started over 20 years ago, I would never have imagined that we would surpass the £1 million fundraising total! Each year it’s a pleasure to witness the benefits provided by Chariots of Fire to the selected charity, and the continued level of support extended by the Cambridge community, University Colleges and our event suppliers being vital in making this level of fundraising a reality.

” He continues: “Our goal is to continue this excellent fundraising event, attract more runners and continue to facilitate genuine lasting legacies for each official recipient charity”

Lord Puttnam, creator of the film “Chariots of Fire, started the race in 2003 and said: “I am very proud of the fact that Chariots of Fire has inspired, and continues to inspire such a worthwhile initiative, which raises money for charities in Cambridgeshire year after year after year. It must have struck a chord, for I know of no other film that manages to evoke the same reaction”.

Fully established in the city’s event calendar, the 2015 Chariots of Fire will take place on Sunday 20th September with team registrations opening during May 2015. Full details about registering to take part in the event are available at

Media coverage on the £1million announcement from Media Partner, the Cambridge News, can be found here.

Key Facts about Chariots of Fire race

  • The first Chariots of Fire was the initial idea of Bill Matthews, Race Director for many years, who joined the committee of a local charity and was looking for fundraising ideas. Bill took the idea to a longstanding friend, Lewis Isaacs, and between them they persuaded their respective firms Robson Rhodes, chartered accountants (now Grant Thornton UK LLP), and solicitors Hewitsons, to provide the initial funding and organisation. Hewitsons continues as the main sponsor to this day through Hewitsons Charitable Trust, with the Cambridge News as Media Partner. 
  • The first race in 1992 took place in the grounds of the The Perse School for Girls in Cambridge. On the day of the race even the persistent rain could not dampen the spirits of the 77 teams whose heroic efforts raised £17,000 for the charity. (Sue Ryder Home, Ely)
  • The race moved to its current location at Queens’ Green in the City centre the following year in 1993 to incorporate a scenic route through the streets of the city and Trinity College. In 2007, Kings and Clare colleges added their support to the event and the route now incorporates all three colleges.
  • The event’s Honorary President for many years was Sir Arthur Marshall, a veteran from the 1924 Olympic team whose exploits are celebrated in the film “Chariots of Fire”. His son, Sir Michael Marshall, has taken over this role, a position he has held since 2007. 
  • Over 20 different local charities have been recipients of the money raised by the Chariots of Fire race since it began in 1992. All the charities can be found here: •
  • Over the years a variety of special guests of honour have started the race. With some of most famous including Paralympian shooter Matt Skelhon, British dancer, director and choreographer Wayne Sleep, Britain’s top Olympic swimming legend, Duncan Goodhew. English comedian, screenwriter and actress, Jennifer Saunders and actress Emilia Fox, best known for her role as Dr Nikki Alexander on BBC Crime Drama Silent Witness. A popular trophy title which teams increasingly aspire to win is the ‘People’s Cup’, which is awarded to the team that provides the most laughter and entertainment for the crowds on the day – usually achieved by running in fancy dress or involving props or gimmicks. Previous winners have included Marvel superheroes; Smurfs; Chefs; Centurions; and Mechanics. 
  • The fastest ever team in the Chariots of Fire race was the “Glassworks A team” which completed the course in 48 minutes and 36 seconds.
  • One million £1 coins laid on the ground one after another would stretch to 13.67 miles, which is around the same distance as a half marathon, or roughly the distance between Cambridge and Royston.