The South Downs Way is a National footpath and popular through-hike which runs the length of the South Downs Hills in the Southern England, from Winchester to Eastbourne. On June 15, 2013, the third consecutive South Downs Way 100 took place. A small group of enthusiastic ultra-runners took to the starting line to run the 100 mile (160 kilometer) course with 12,700 feet (3872 meters) of vertical gain. The mix of open grasslands, woodlands, dirt trails, and great weather made for a perfect day to go running.
On your marks, get set, go!
An early start for the 190 racers up for the challenge; at 06:00 the starting gun sounded at the Chilcomb Sports Ground in Winchester. A dozen countries from the four corners of the planet were represented, including runners from New Zealand, the United States, South Africa, Turkey, and Venezuela.
The South Downs Way 100 is part of a series of four 100-mile races put on by race organizer, Centurion. A runner who successfully finishes all four in one year wins the Grand Slam award. Twelve hopefuls trotted off on their way to completing the second race of the year.
An early morning start
Petzl lights up the night
As the main partner for the 2013 edition, Petzl assistance teams were out in force from the beginning. The event started on Friday night, June 14; runners signed in, picked up their bib numbers, and made the necessary preparations for the following day’s race. The local Petzl assistance team was on hand to help with any lighting questions. The main topic of the evening was battery power and life time. Several runners had already suffered lighting issues in cold conditions, and thus received invaluable information on the benefit of using lithium batteries. Participants also showed great interest in the new TIKKA®2.
Petzl set up an aid station at mile 76 (122 km) with a headlamp services tent to assist runners with any lighting troubles. Throughout the evening and night, runners went through the checkpoint where they were fed, hydrated, and entertained with music and lights.
Runner assistance from the beginning and throughout the night.
Fast, faster, fastest! A record breaking finish
Petzl athlete, Robbie Britton, led from the start and won the men's category, arriving at finish line in Eastborne in a record breaking 15 hrs 43 min. An amazing Jean Beaumont, placing first in the women's category, broke the course record in a quick 16 hrs 58 min and finished 3rd overall!
The course ran fast this year for all competitors. The men's second and third place finishers, David Grazielli and Max Wilcocks respectively, beat the 2012 course record time. Second place female finisher, Clare Mullenger, also broke the women's 2012 course record, and Wendy Shaw, who placed third in the women's category, leads the 2013 Grand Slam standings.
In addition, almost half the field, 91 runners, finished the race in less than 24 hours, and 27 runners finished in less than 20 hours. Speed did not only grace those on the podium!
A weekend that will remain etched in the minds of runners and course volunteers alike.
Overview of the results
1. Robbie Britton, UK (Petzl runner), 15:43:53
2. Davide Grazielli, Italy, 16:39:39
3. Max Willcocks, UK 16:58:27
1. Jean Beaumont, New Zealand, 16:56:38
2. Clare Mullenger, UK, 18:43:10
3. Wendy Shaw, UK, 19:45:12
For more information:
- Organizer Centurion Running's official website
- Winner Robbie Britton's website
- Discover the NAO headlamp and the REACTIVE LIGHTING TECHNOLOGY