It was a game of two halves for the South Coast Challenge competitors in Sussex at the weekend. Warm sunshine greeted the near 1,000 participants who set off from Eastbourne on Saturday morning (25 August) but cold, wet and windy conditions provided an unexpected additional test for those who opted for either the two day challenge or to take part only on Sunday.
The Action Challenge events team (pictured) provided a superb 100km ultra marathon, with 50km and 25km options, on a spectacular clifftop and coastal course between Eastbourne and Arundel.
Course highlights include Beachy Head, Birling Gap, Severn Sisters, Devil's Dyke and historic Arundel Castle. The first 'half' is actually 55km to Hove, with 1,304m of ascent. Hove to Arundel completes the full 100km and adds a further 846m of ascent for a total climb of 2,150m – more than a mile and a quarter high!
South Coast Challenge can be run or walked but all competitors are accurately timed and GPS tracked. The fastest non-stop 100km competitor was Emlyn Hughes (10:06:57) – averaging just over an hour for each 10km segment. Finishing 12th overall was the first lady, Louise Markham (13:08:27).
The daylight 100km option, spread over two days, allows a more modest introduction to ultra running and 70 people took the overnight break in Brighton. Thom Bryan (11:18:30) and Louise O'Sullivan (14:29:36) were swiftest on cumulative times.
There is also a First Half Challenge, Second Half Challenge and Quarter Challenge available to suit all levels of experience. Saturday's sun was enjoyed by first half winners Neil Richmond (5:49:00) and Heather Samson (7:01:09) and the quarter challenge 'sprint' from Eastbourne to Alfriston was led by Chris Richardson (2:25:51) and Claire Kisz (2:29:41). Sunday's second half winners in the rain and 50mph gusts were Elliott Haynes (4:30:40) and second overall Kris Franklin (5:21:01).
Of the many favourable comments on social media, Jenny Tree sums up the event thus: “I went continually for 18 hours. For those doing it over two days I admire you. I hurt so much I don't think I could've got up and started again, especially in this weather. Everyone still going is amazing. Well done.”