Up to 3,000 runners will have more reasons than most to appreciate an extra hour in bed on Saturday night (26 October) after completing one of Britain's toughest off-road marathons. Beachy Head Marathon, known as Seven Sisters Marathon until 2001, starts at 9:00am outside Bede's School, Duke's Drive in Eastbourne and climbs 1,318 metres in its 26.2 mile route.
Entries have been received from athletes aged 16-82 from as far afield as Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic, Australia and Hawaii for the full marathon or supporting 10K race. Runners will have to climb a lung-busting 300 steps, traverse 14 gates and climb those taxing 1,318 metres as the route passes through the magnificent heritage coastline scenery.
Taking in picturesque villages of Alfriston, Litlington and Jevington, the route also passes through spectacular Cuckmere Valley, Seven Sisters, Friston Forest, Birling Gap and imposing Beachy Head. The 10K is seen as a stepping stone to the full marathon and runs on a similarly testing course to Belle Tout Lighthouse and back.
Eastbourne Borough Council's Cllr Margaret Bannister said “With a route that takes in some of the country’s most stunning landscapes it’s no surprise that Beachy Head Marathon has once again attracted registrations from across the world, with a global field of competitors expected to be on the starting line. This truly unique event is also great for spectators too, with plenty of spots all along the route to cheer on the runners while admiring the fantastic views.”
Last year's winners were Andy Coley-Maud (Clapham Chasers, 2:49:02) and Rebecca Bunting (London Heathside, 3:16:44) – setting a new women's course record. Alex Jago (Arena 80) won the 10K in 36:19 and the women's champion was Megan Taylor (Lewes AC, 41:27).
Beachy Head Marathon will reach its 40th anniversary next year and to celebrate organisers will add a half marathon option to the existing 10K in the programme. The date for 2020 is Saturday 24 October and full details are available at Beachy Head Marathon website
This year's races are fully subscribed but you can enjoy the atmosphere of last year from your armchair with this 2018 highlights video
Images courtesy Beachy Head Marathon