ONE of Swindon's most popular running events marked its 10 year anniversary in style on Sunday.

As the clocks went forward and the sun shone brightly, runners and walkers from across the town and beyond made their way to Lydiard Park Academy for the tenth annual Mad March Hare.

The event, which is put on each year in aid of Breast Cancer Now, has so far raised almost £100,000 and organisers hope that the fantastic turnout this year will be enough to see that milestone well and truly passed.

Participants choose to tackle either a 5km or 10km circuit - there are some who run flat out in an effort to beat their fellow runners home but there are many for whom the taking part and enjoyment is what matters most.

Some cover the course in running gear, others with colourful clothing, some wear bunny ears and others go the full distance and dress up from head to toe in fancy dress.

Kathy Doyle, one of the organising team, said: "We're aiming to reach £100,000 this year - the weather is great and so our numbers are looking good.

"We've had everything over the years from hail stones to the freezing cold - but we've got a really good loyal following."

While the Mad March Hare is certainly a proper running event, it doesn't have any of the formality that one might find elsewhere.

Kathy says that is very much intentional and all part of making the day so welcoming for those taking part.

"It's a really nice, whacky, fun event. We don't call it a race, there's no chip timing or anything like that, it's more to do with encouraging people to be outside and active whether that's walking, running or jogging," she said.

"We're dog friendly too, they're welcome and they get their own goody bags too."

In what felt like just minutes since the last runner had left the start line, the first finishers returned.

Leading the men was Simon Jell, of Swindon Harriers, while crossing first for the ladies was Leah Baker.

Setting the standard for the youngsters was Reece Prouse-Edwards while the first four-legged finisher was boxer LuLu, accompanied by her humans Tamzin and Tegan Harris.

Further down the standings but certainly no less delighted to be involved were 62-year-old Carole Rose and her friend Chris Gilliard, 63.

The pair have been taking part in the Mad March Hare for the past eight years - their presence in the first events was only prevented by Chris undergoing chemotherapy.

But that journey makes their annual trip around the course even more meaningful.

"We love doing it," said Carol. "We're here every year, we can't run so we walk it.

"We always dress up too, everyone is so friendly all the way round the course."

Also finishing in the middle of the pack were the cast of the Wizard of Oz.

The group met just over 18 months ago when they joined Swindon Shin Splints as rookie runners. Since then they've bonded and finished two half marathons, the latest just last week in Reading.

Decked out as characters including the tin man, the wicked witch and even Dorothy herself, the group were big hits with onlookers and fully lived up to their "run for fun and friendship" mantra.