Winchester Cathedral, founded in 642, was the first capital of England and burial place of the early kings of England, so Race to the King was an obvious title for Threshold Sports ultra-marathon along the stunning South Downs Way over the weekend (23-24 June).
Voted UK's best endurance event 2017, Race to the King is a double marathon (53.6 miles) to honour the ancient kings (and queens) of England, with a spectacular and historic finish on the steps of one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, with the longest nave and overall length of any Gothic cathedral on the continent.
The multi-terrain course includes 1,805 metres of ascent starting at Slindon Estate, Arundel in East Sussex and with many of the course features incorporating the word 'hill' you know what you are in for: St. Catherine's Hill, Beacon Hill, Cheesefoot Hill, Butser Hill, Old Winchester Hill, etc. Welcome shade is found at Queen Elizabeth Country Park – a paradise for wildlife with 1,400 acres of woodland and downland to explore.
First to be embraced by the 'King' at Winchester was 2:25:20 marathoner Mark Innocenti (Highgate Harriers) with a phenomenal non-stop effort in 7hrs36min36sec. Matthew Coakes (M40 Stragglers, 7:43:58) was the only other athlete under eight hours from 656 finishers. Isobel Rea (W40 West 4 Harriers, 8:45:10) and Rachel Stanley-Evans (W40 Witney, 9:31:09) both breached 10 hours in the women's non-stop race.
Race logistics allow for an overnight stop for double marathon runners/walkers plus either 23.4 miles (Saturday) or 30.2 miles (Sunday) options through South Downs National Park.
runABC South simply loves the sheer joy on the face of our photo star as she returns to a monochrome age and falls into the arms of the 'King' at the finish! We also had to include the image of the 8:00am start (below) with the enthusiasm and sense of purpose clearly evident among the throng leaving the start line.
Full details and results are available at runABC South race listings