The Scottish piper who leads the competitors to the start is just one of many unique touches that keep 750 runners returning to contest the annual Bewl 15 trail race, this year celebrating 20 years for Wadhurst Runners' flagship event on Sunday, 7 July.
Overcast conditions could not dampen the spirits of the 729 finishers in 3:49:35, who managed to complete a full circuit of the Round Water Route at Bewl Water, the largest stretch of open water in south-east England.
A few slippery patches merely added to the challenge and did little to slow the leaders, with local runner Billy Hobbs (Tunbridge Wells Harriers, 1:26:10) prevailing by 15 seconds from Brighton Phoenix's Simon Heath (1:26:25). Chris Smith (Haywards Heath Harriers, 1:29:09) – fifth last year – was third overall and first M40 master. Three men running inside 6-minute-miles on this course was a significant result, last achieved back in 2010.
Lucy Rogers (Brighton & Hove, 1:46:21), Linda Schofield (W45, 1:47:35) and Freya Leman (W40 Brighton & Hove, 1:48:30) enjoyed top-50 finishes to claim the top female awards.
There were £50 cash prizes for the race winners sponsored by Gibbs Reed Garage in Ticehurst and Sheffield University student Billy Hobbs picked up a useful £50 bounty for breaking the course record (1:27:05) held by Will Levett of Tonbridge AC since 2009.
More than 150 runners completed the course inside two hours and tucked in to the finish line refreshments provided free of charge by the hosts. Race commentator, Kevin Daly summed up the atmosphere: “Great event today, free tea, coffee, cakes, massage, beer and much more. Happy 20th birthday, lots of smiley faces crossing that line, well done Waddies. By the way, I was too busy to get a free beer, it had all gone”!