Jacqui Mannering (#2169) and Eleanor Swaine (#2275) look pretty chuffed on their arrival at Winchester to complete Threshold Sports' award winning Race to the King ultra last year. Runners are hoping to be in similar spirits this weekend (22-23 June) when the 2019 race takes place on the stunning South Downs Way
Race to the King
was voted the UK's best endurance event 2017 in the annual Running Awards. The double marathon (53.5 miles) event starts at Slindon Estate, Arundel in East Sussex and includes 5,051 feet of ascent on the ancient trail to the burial place of the ancient Kings of England, Winchester Cathedral.
The blend of ancient and modern is shown in our image above as Jacqui and Eleanor enter the grounds of the great Cathedral, founded in 642, and are about to cross the chip mat to receive their elapsed times (17:09:46) for their epic journey along the chalk hills of southern England.
The main challenges on the route are found at St. Catherine's Hill, Beacon Hill, Cheesefoot Head, Butser Hill and Old Winchester Hill. A welcome shady stretch can be found at Queen Elizabeth Country Park – a paradise for wildlife with 1,400 acres of woodland (see below).
First to be met by the 'King' at Winchester last year was Mark Innocenti (Highgate Harriers) with a phenomenal non-stop effort in 7:36:36 – an average of 8:41 min/mile without a horse! Matthew Coakes (Stragglers, 7:43:58) was the only other athlete under eight hours from 656 finishers. Isobel Rea (West 4 Harriers, 8:45:10) and Rachel Stanley-Evans (W40 Witney, 9:31:09) both beat 10 hours in the women's non-stop race.
Race logistics allow for an overnight camp for double marathon runners/walkers plus either 23.4 miles (Saturday) or 30.2 miles (Sunday) options.
runABC South salutes the endeavours of the modern day foot soldiers as they retrace the steps of the ancient warriors on one of Britain's most famous trails, used by millions of humans for thousands of years.
Look out for an event report and results on runABC South next week.