It was a day and, for many perhaps, a Knight to remember for around 1,500 intrepid starters in a race to meet the 'King' at Winchester Cathedral in Threshold Sports' award winning Race to the King ultra-marathon at the weekend (22-23 June).
Competitors could choose a non-stop double marathon (53.5 miles) from Slindon Estate, Arundel on the stunning South Downs Way to finish on the steps of the burial place of the ancient kings of England, Winchester Cathedral. The non-stop victors are rewarded a unique sword trophy - not quite of the dimensions of the one sported by the fearsome character above!
Alternatives included a fully serviced overnight basecamp on the South Downs on Saturday night at 23.4 miles – welcome after climbing 2,718 feet – plus a Saturday or Sunday only race. Sunday's trek was longer at 30.2 miles but had a mere 2,333 feet of ascent!
With the accent on the ascent there were 751 official finishers in the non-stop race won by 2:37:43 marathon runner Jack Blackburn (7:23:41) from M40 James Scott-Beccleuch (7:51:13) and Tom Wake (7:58:09). Just the top three men broke eight hours with Jamie Buckland (8:10:19) fourth ahead of the women's champion Mary Menon (8:26:49) in a magnificent fifth overall. W40 Sharon Walker (8:45:08) and defending champion Tash Sexton (W40, 8:53:20) put in some overtime to complete the journey in less than nine hours.
Refreshed after an overnight stop, Christopher Fox (7:28:41) and Nancy Connolly (8:21:18) had the fastest elapsed times in the two day event. Saturday's winners were M40 Matt Burke (3:56:35) and Rosie Willcock (4:57:57) while Sunday's fastest were Richard Bateman (4:14:39) and Teddy Page (5:24:01).
Race to the King was voted the UK's best endurance event 2017 in the annual Running Awards and Threshold Sports gained gold in this year's awards for Best Trail Series.