In short: An excellent, well organised and friendly run with a great night atmosphere In full: Well done to Phil and all the helpers. An excellent, well organised and friendly run with a great night atmosphere. It is a undulating/hilly course though and at night its hard to know how long the hills are! While the terrain was not particularly 'technical’ I’d recommend a good head torch as there were numerous tree roots in the wooded sections and the paths quite rutted in places, plus you had to look out for the South Downs Way way-mark posts.
The run, and I say run rather than race, because if you race it, the point of a night run is really being missed, started in the QE Park near Petersfield and basically used the second half of the South Downs marathon as an "out and back" from the Park to Cocking and back following the South Downs Way way-markers. Being familiar with the SDW marathon I had no problems following the route, but if the way markers were followed and unmarked paths/tracks ignored finding your way in the dark wouldn't be too difficult. To be fair the RD did suggest those unsure of the route should 'buddy up' with someone who did.
Parking was right next to the start and pre-run tea, coffee and cakes were available. There were two start times, 8pm for those expecting to take around 6 hours and 9am for the faster runners. Aid/water stations were well spaced though the first at about 4 miles was not set up for the early starter group (we were warned that would be the case). Each station carried water, juice and the usual munchies. The half way one was particularly well stocked and runners greeted with what must have been an “over-caffinated” group of cheering supporters!
I really enjoy night running and when the full moon came out under a cloudless sky the tranquil atmosphere was just great. Finishing in the forest meant running with screech owls and bats for company. The welcome at the finish at around 2am was loud and genuine and hot drinks and food was available all night! Just brilliant. Thanks again Phil.
In short: A new race series with great potential if logistics are improved In full: I ran the 29 miler and had no problem following the route markers and when I did check with the marshals they gave accurate directions. There were a couple of places on long stretches between markers where I think ‘reassurance’ repeater arrows would have been helpful. Someone else mentioned coloured bibs and if the route markers reflected bib colours that might help both runners and marshals in the future.
The two water stations were adequately spaced and stocked; the first was passed three times and the second (with food) twice.
The route included parts of the old Downland Challenge and Jog Shop 20 and anyone familiar with those will know about the hills, both short and sharp and long and slow, but including undulating sections along the South Downs Way. The scenery makes the effort worthwhile and on the day, the weather cleared up and the mud deep!
Clearly the organisers have some route marking and general logistics issues to resolve, some simple like swapping the bag drop and registration desks to prevent queuing out into the road. I believe they genuinely tried hard to stage a good event, but perhaps organising three different distances the first time out was a bit much.
In summary, like most new runs it had its teething problems, but the test will be how much will be put right for future events. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, even if I was nearly last, and will be back next year to check on progress. Date of review: February 6, 2014
In short: Excellent, well organised event and good introduction to Ultra Running In full: My fourth turn out for this excellent and well organised event. While the 2 miles through the bluebell woods were easier this year, (no mud!), the 7 miles along the Wansdyke were into the teeth of a strong south westerly. Not sure which I prefer! Many thanks to all the cheery marshals, especially those at checkpoints 6 and 8 where it was exposed, windy and raining when I plodded through.... much appreciated guys. Oh - and so nice to have piping hot showers at the end! Usually when I finish the water is stone cold. Date of review: May 13, 2013
In short: Slick and well organised event In full: Excellent organisation throughout. Well spaced drinks stations and extremely supportive marshals. Route challenging, but not too tough though I thought the second half was harder. An opportunity was given for us slower "back of the pack" runners to start early which took the pressure off reaching the 13 mile cut off in time and ensured none of us missed the last shuttle bus back to the park and ride. Date of review: October 8, 2012
In short: Great race let down by timing chip reliability.... again In full: Great race with excellent scenery over a well marked course. Long steep hills of first half give way to even more punishing relentless undulations in the last 6 miles. The timing chip system completely failed for me. According to the results I didn't record a single time and I suppose that means that, as I don't have an official time, it doesn't count as a completed marathon. And yes.... the chip was fastened correctly :( Date of review: June 11, 2012
In short: Good - but maybe a bit of complacency slipping in In full: Start better organised than last year. Timing stations 3 and 4 must have gone awol during the latter stages as my times and many others finishing around me have no times at these stations, despite being ultra-careful to tread on the sensors. Either no tee-shirts for the late finishers or I was too tired to notice, but would have expected someone to hand me one with the goody bag in that case. Just hope that lack on intermediate times does not discount the race in my quest to reach 100. Date of review: June 17, 2011