Thanks to Neil Boosey and Andy Goodridge for this account of their recent efforts (and fantastic teamwork) in the South Downs Way 50 mile ultra race.
The SDW50 (South Downs Way 50) is a 50 mile foot race along the South Downs Way national trail, beginning in Worthing and finishing in Eastbourne. Organised by Centurion Running it’s the first race in their annual 50 mile grand slam series.
2 Waverley Harriers took part this year. Andy Goodridge and Neil Boosey.
Centurion Running have a strict mandatory kit list that must be carried by runners throughout event, it consisted of: fully charged mobile phone, survival blanket, fully waterproof jacket, whistle, head torch, back up head torch, warm hat, gloves, base layer, water bottles, calories. The one benefit of the great weather was no need for anything except calories & water, lots of water!
Centurion races are incredibly well organised and registration was over in no time – We even had a chance to chat with fellow Harrier, Lee Kemp who was volunteering on the day. Soon enough we were heading over to the start line for a 9am kick off. After a quick introduction chat from race director James Elson we, along with ~400 other runners, were off.
The first 6 miles of the course is a long slow climb up to join the SDW at Chanctonbury Ring. By that point we had decided to stick together for the race and help each other through. At Botolphs we crossed the Downs Link, where we could have turned left and been back in Godalming in 35 miles! We headed straight on, up 215 meters to Truleigh hill, then along the ridge to Fulking Hill which looks down on Devil’s Dyke and the Weald beyond. At this point we were keeping up a cracking pace of around 8:15 per mile – Though we knew this wasn’t going to last all day.
By about 20 miles we had made great time, but Neil was fading in the blazing sun and dry breeze, struggling to drink enough water and keep running. It was a cracking day to be at the beach but for running up and down hills not so much. Then Andy misjudged the distance between the first and second aid stations and for about 6 miles (between 20 and 26) was completely out of water and dehydrating fast. Thankfully, Neil had picked up by then and had enough water to sustain Andy to the aid station at Housedean farm. The cool barn was a massive relief from the mid day sun. After just a few minutes refuelling we were back out and heading up the next hill – This took us 20 minutes to reach the top and it was only a mile long. This one was going to be tough!
At about 30 miles, our spirits were lifted by the absolutely stunning views, the sounds of skylarks and support of people along the route. We had broken the back of it and settled into a routine, walk up, jog across and run down. Having crossed the river at Southease we climbed Itford Hill, Beddington Hill (190m), Firle Beacon (217m), etc etc. From Bostal Hill we get sight of the Church in Alfriston, – less than 10m to go. Through the check point and we are off up The Long Man (214m), from which we can see the church in Jevington the final check point for coke plus chocolate!
As we turn into Eastbourne to do the final few miles Neil realises he is about 2 minutes outside his time for last year and decides to pick the pace up. So as not to be left out, Andy did too. We finished in a flourish round the 400m running track at Eastbourne College with an extremely slow ‘sprint’ finish! It was brilliant.
Andy finished 42nd Place in 8 hr 33 m and Neil 43rd Place in 8 hr 34 mins.
Neil’s son Ollie was waiting to taxi us home, it was time to open the coolbox and rehydrate!
We highly recommend this event. The organisation by Centurion Running is incredible, the views are stunning and the aid station volunteers and crew fantastic.