At 5:30am Sat 6th June we had 8 IWRR’s gather at Beachy Head to attempt a relay of 100 miles of the South Downs Way. Those intrepid runners were Phil Mannall, Mick Coultrup, Darren Cole, Stu Backhouse, Andy MacArthur and Dave Cass with superb support from John Dudok and Steve Hickman driving, navigating and time keeping the runners.
The course is from Beachy Head to Winchester, divided into 18 legs of between 3.75 and 8 miles. Almost entirely off-road, with some very difficult and even dangerous terrain – numerous ascents, excruciatingly steep, or long, or both. Against other teams of 6 runners, each tackling 3 non-consecutive legs, a challenging time limit of 11:15 hours was set for completion of leg 15 and a final completion of 14:30 hours.
The race started well with Andy covering the first 6 mile leg in 48 minutes!
The runners were frequently alone, except for the odd encounter with walkers, cows or sheep, or even a few other runners, there were no marshals en route, no one to yell encouragement, and no immediate help around. There are no race direction signs, no distance markers, and no water stations – so they each had an Ordnance Survey map to hand to get from one check-point to the next, with only a couple of minor mishaps along the way.
Every one of our runners kept the pace below their predicted times to reach leg 15 in sufficient time to continue with the race.
Stuart Backhouse finished the final 5.5 mile leg in 32 minutes, meaning the IWRR Team completed the event in just short of 14 hours – over 30 minutes ahead of schedule! So we placed 19th out of 29 in Cat A and 30th out of the 64 that completed the relay.
Well done all on your brilliant running, comradery and supporting of each other.
SDRW website excerpt:
“Racing is ultimately a selfish activity: you’re doing it to improve your PB, or to win a prize, or add to your medal collection. In the SDR, you’re running for the team, not yourself, and the enjoyment lies in playing your part well and helping others to do the same.”