A GRUELLING charity race held every year to support paratroopers has been cancelled because of coronavirus.

The Paras’ 10 had already been put back from May until November because of the pandemic but has now been cancelled entirely for 2020.

The race sees runners set off from Abbey Field, running through Merville Barracks and Friday Woods over the same hills and water obstacles crossed by soldiers on training runs.

Some entrants make things even more difficult by carrying hefty bergens to replicate conditions faced by soldiers.

Organisers are looking into holding a virtual race so those already in training have not wasted their time and say they will be automatically placed into the event next year - again scheduled for May - or a similar event in Catterick.

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In a statement, they said they had thought about getting runners to set off in small groups to avoid overcrowding but the new limit on gatherings of more than six meant they could not do so.

A spokesman for the race said: “Rising concern about Covid spikes this autumn has changed the game.

We have 876 people registered already - it is more than a race, it is a family reunion- effectively a social gathering.

“With the new Government rule of six we do not see how we can make this work

“We are not a local event like Park Run where you run 5km and walk home.

“We are a national event with entrants travelling from all over the UK and Europe.

“We have to satisfy guidance from the council, MoD, blue light services and under the new law we are unable to do this.

“There would be a strong medical risk in a testing mass endurance event like Paras’ 10.

“We normally have more than Parachute Regiment soldiers who volunteer their weekend to prepare, set-up, organise, marshal and clear away our event.

“With the added need for temperature-taking and management of distancing we would need many more.

“Since Covid began, operational and training deployments have been hugely disrupted.

“Our troops are now tasked to recover that lost time to maintain their role as spearhead of the British Army.

“They cannot be diverted to secondary tasks, however much we love the Paras’ 10.

“We are gutted that this has happened.”

A popular beer festival has also been canned for the year because of the pandemic.

The Harwich and Dovercourt Bay Winter Ale Festival was scheduled to take place at the Kingsway Hall, Dovercourt, near the end of November.

The popular festival has been running since 2002 and normally takes place over three days.

A driveway jumble sale scheduled for Wrabness on Saturday has also been scrapped.

However, the event has now been taken off the calender for 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Colin Cheesman, chairman of the organising committee, said: “So many people look forward to this festival and see it as the start to the run up to Christmas.

“However disappointing, I am sure that everyone will understand that it would have been impossible to run the event in a Covid-19 secure manner and it is the right thing to do to announce the cancellation.

“As with so many organisations across the Harwich Peninsula, we must hope that we are in a position to return in 2021.”