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D-Day 44 Challenge 2019

Challenge type: Trek and Run in support of Blesma The Limbless Veterans, Blind Veterans UK, Combat Stress

Destination: France

Runs from : 5th June 2019 to 7th June 2019

In 2009 Lt Col. Mike McErlain, with his wife Jo, set up the D-Day 44 Challenge. Sadly, Mike died while doing the run on 6 June 2013, but with the blessing of Mike’s widow, Jo, the event returned in 2018 to raise money for Blesma the Limbless Veterans, Blind Veterans UK and Combat Stress and we are all set to go ahead again for the 2019 challenge.

The D-Day 44 Challenge comprises of 2 fantastic route options, 22 miles or 44 miles.  Both routes take you on a fantastic course through corn, wheat and barley fields as we head down the Normandy coastline over sand dunes, through marsh land and pebble beaches.  You will follow forgotten paths and rocky outcrops and beautiful Norman villages. 

These are all set alive during this first week of June with people from all over the world driving WWII vehicles and some even wear old WWII uniforms. Amongst these people are hundreds of war veterans, some of whom lived through D-Day and proudly wear their medals and tell their amazing stories.

The D-Day 44 Challenge commemorates the 1944 Allied invasion of occupied France. For those of us who are passionate about adventure and sporting challenges, the D-Day 44 Challenge offers us the perfect opportunity to indulge these passions. The walk/run allows us to appreciate fully the sacrifices made by our forefathers as well as current servicemen who have bravely fought to protect our way of life.

44 miles is a tough ultra run and 22 miles is a challenging distance to walk and so for this reason there will be cut off times put in place throughout the course.  These times will be communicated in pre-event information which will be emailed out to all participants, we will also speak through the times in detail during the event briefing on the day.  


What's Included

Return coach transfer from London, 2 nights accommodation, all meals apart from on return day, water and feed stations throughout challenge, back up response vehicle and a fully recce’d route.

Please note accommodation is a mix of twin/triple and quad share.

What's Not Included

Travel insurance, food on day 3 and personal equipment to undertake the challenge.

How to Take Part

To sign up for this challenge you will need to pay a registration fee and pick from one of the following two payment options: 

Option 1 (Minimum Sponsorship) - You pay a £150 registration fee and agree to raise £1,000 sponsorship for either Blesma,The Limbless Veterans, Blind Veterans UK or Combat Stress.

Option 2 (Own Place) - You pay a £150 registration fee, plus £340 for the balance of the tour costs and agree to raise £500 sponsorship. You will be invoiced for the tour cost 8 weeks before the event.

* For more information on these options take a look at our booking conditions. 

All costs correct at the time of writing, subject to change.

Travel Options

The D-Day Challenge is is a fully inclusive event package including your travel, meals and accommodation however you can select to make your own way to France or stay in separate accommodation.  If you do not require the full event package please email lara@classicchallenge.co.uk to discuss options. 

Challenge Details






  • Takes place on D-Day
  • Ultra marathon challenge event: 44 mile run or 22 mile walk
  • Run/walk through stunning historic countryside
  • Visit D-Day monuments en-route
  • Spectacular finish at Pegasus Bridge
  • Run across the five beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword and Juno.

Take the challenge…

Choose from either a 44 mile ultra run or a 22 mile walk and either one of the following payment options: 

Option 1 (Minimum Sponsorship) - You pay a £150 registration fee and agree to raise £1,000 sponsorship for either Blesma,The Limbless Veterans, Blind Veterans UK or Combat Stress.

Option 2 (Own Place) - You pay a £150 registration fee, plus £340 for the balance of the tour costs and agree to raise £500 sponsorship. You will be invoiced for the tour cost 8 weeks before the event.

Accepted payment methods:



Day 1:  Wednesday 5th June

Participants make their own way to London to pick up the coach transfer down to Dover. Day crossing over to Calais. On arrival into Calais port we travel to our overnight accommodation to fuel up with a nutritious dinner. We then have the challenge briefing about the day ahead.

Day 2: Thursday 6th June

D-Day Challenge Day

44 Mile Challenge: Early morning wake-up as we board the coach at 05:30 to be at the start point for 06:00.
22 Mile Challenge: Morning coach transfer to start point to begin walking for 09:00.

We start the challenge from Pointe du Hoc, where Colonel Rudder led an elite group of 200 rangers up the chalk cliffs using ropes and ladders. After dispatching the German sentries at the top of the cliff, their mission was to find and destroy large battery guns; this action was crucial as these large guns were capable of firing shells several miles out to sea and would therefore have claimed many men’s lives who would be arriving at Utah beach the following morning. After destroying the guns, but alerting a large German infantry force, Colonel Rudder and his men fought bravely with their backs to the sea and suffered large casualties, not only at the hands of the German infantry force but also due to friendly fire coming from naval ships at sea. Colonel Rudder and 30 of his men survived the mission.

From the Pointe du Hoc, we head east with the sea on our left beating up against the rocks below. Immediately the striking countryside takes hold as you run through crop fields, passing evidence of the German defensive line in the form of concrete bunkers and the occasional burnt out WWII vehicle.

As we head down towards Arromanches 22 mile participants then begin their challenge and join the 44 mile runners. As we head down to the small Norman village there is an incredible descent as we look out to sea. You will get fantastic views of the emotive scene of what is left of the Mulberry harbours. These were huge sections of floating concrete roads dragged across from Britain and fastened together at Arromanches forming a temporary harbour for ships to unload their cargo in support of the soldiers who had recently landed on the beaches. Over 19 million tonnes of supplies were off-loaded at the Mulberry Harbour of Arromanches.

The route then continues to Ouistreham where the course heads south along the Orne canal. Pegasus Bridge looms up ahead, its structure an icon of the first few hours of the D-Day invasion. It was here where Horsa gliders, part of the three airborne divisions deployed during the night of June 5th, landed 50 metres away from the canal bridge. The gliders broke up on impact as they hit the field and soldiers scrambled out through the broken sides. Led by Lieutenant Brotheridge, the small platoon of commandos (the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire light infantry) charged across the bridge. Their mission was to take it intact in order to aid the main landing force which would be arriving in the morning at Sword Beach. But by the time Brotheridges’s platoon reached Pegasus Bridge, the German guards had got themselves organised enough to open fire. Brotheridge was the first casualty of D-Day after being mortally wounded from a shot through the neck. The bridge was quickly over-run with reinforcements in the form of charging Willis Jeeps fitted with Browning machine guns.

It is here at Pegasus Bridge that the epic D-Day 44 Challenge concludes. On arrival at the finish line you will be greeted with a celebratory drink and some well earnt food. Our overnight accommodation is a short journey from the finish line.

Day 3:  Friday 7th June

Mid-morning departure back to London via Calais. 

Please note this is a complex itinerary which is subject to change.

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