ENTRIES for next year’s Dorchester marathon and half marathon are open.

Although it’s only September, organisers from Casterbridge Rotary Club and White Star Running have started work already to put the event together for next May.

The races will take place on Sunday, May 27, with a route that takes in Dorchester town centre and surrounding villages.

Race director Andy Palmer said: “We had such great feedback from all of the runners this year. Many of them said it was the best marathon they had ever run and they loved running through the beautiful countryside around Dorchester.

“We had more than 200 local runners this year and we hope to have even more for 2018.”

Catriona Fountain was one of the team running from Magna Housing, based in Dorchester. She said: “This was my first marathon and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. White Star and Casterbridge Rotary did a fantastic job of organising it and the marshals were all brilliant. We had a great turn out from everyone cheering us on in Dorchester and all the villages we ran through. I can’t wait to do it all again.”

In a letter to the president of Casterbridge Rotary Club, the mayor of Dorchester, Councillor Susie Hosford, said: “All the runners, supporters and spectators that I spoke to were having a great time and were full of praise for the way the whole event was staged and managed and many told me that they would be looking forward to coming back next year.”

John Adams, who chaired the organising committee, said: “We are delighted that the inaugural Dorchester Marathon was a great success and that it inspired so many local runners and helpers to become involved in this new community event.

“We are most grateful for the excellent support from local residents, voluntary organisations, businesses, councils and over 100 locals marshals and helpers, who should all be proud of what they collectively have achieved.

“We are particularly grateful to the landowners whose land we rely on and Dorset County Council who helped with the traffic management. Without them the event simply wouldn’t happen.”

The event was set up originally to raise money for local charities and good causes as well as to support the local economy and inspire community participation. The organisers are pleased that it did all those things with 3,000 extra visitors to the county town over the weekend.

John added: “In its first year the event made £13,000 which will be awarded to local charities and good causes and Casterbridge Rotary Club will shortly be announcing how local organisations can apply for a share of the money.

“Anyone who wants to take part in next year’s marathon or half marathon can apply through the Dorchester Marathon website as we look forward to a bigger and even better event in 2018.”