The story so far.....share your thoughts and photos about running along the Trail to help us create a community Top 50!

It is astonishing to think it took Dan Lawson only 12 hours and 7 minutes to run 86 miles along The Ridgeway from Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire to Avebury in Wiltshire. The female record is not far behind, with Sarah Burns-Morwood completing the route in 14 hours in 2018. As a runner or a spectator, running is a unique way to experience The Ridgeway. Some athletes running the Trail are preparing for international competitions including the UTMB World Series Finals around the Mont Blanc Massif! Read on below to find out more….

Banner image: Race to the Stones 2015

The Ridgeway is a particularly special route for trail running because it has been Britain’s ultra-distance course for 20 years. Alongside the other two distances of short (half marathon) and middle, runners take part in the British Trail Running Championship Ultra Distance event on The Ridgeway to determine who is the fittest and fastest each year. The ‘Ridgeway Challenge 86’ covers 86 miles and, for many, involves running into the night. It is one of several events supported by the Trail Running Association in its role to promote trail running as an athletic discipline throughout the UK.

The current record holders for The Ridgeway hold other impressive records. Dan Lawson achieved one of the fastest known times for Lands End to John O’Groats in 2020 and set new records for courses in India. In 2015, Sarah Burns-Morwood set the fastest female finish time for ‘Race to the Stones‘, another Ridgeway event, when she completed the 100km in 9 hours, 14 minutes and 14 seconds.

Race to the Stones‘ attracts over 2,000 runners to the Trail each year and so opens up trail running to a large audience. Organised events have the advantage of offering runners support, including training tips and checkpoints enroute offering food and medical assistance. Some of The Ridgeway’s annual events are very well established, with Tring Running Club’s ‘Ridgeway Run’ dating back to 1982. The ‘Ridgeway Relay’ organised by Marlborough Running Club is another well-known event, attracting teams from numerous local running clubs – there is lots of healthy rivalry!

Running clubs local to The Ridgeway are a great way to build skills and confidence. For example, Mark Innocenti of Tring Running Club and Paula Jones of Calne Running Club were in the top three finishers for the British Trail Running Championship Ultra Distance 2022. Experienced runners are often happy to share tips to help beginners, including Sabrina Pace-Humphreys who actively encourages people to try running, particularly Black people. Sabrina’s tips include running with a friend, starting with a walk-run for a mile around your local park and remembering that walking is not cheating! She is one of the founding members of Black Trail Runners, a group that held its first run in Wendover Woods near The Ridgeway.

Some runners travel the world – Sabrina Pace-Humphreys has completed the ‘toughest foot race on earth’ which involved 250km through the Sahara desert in the event known as the Marathon des Sables! In this way, The Ridgeway is important in enabling runners to train and also to compete at home and abroad; for example, the Ridgeway Challenge 86 is one of several ‘index races’ across the world which assesses the performance of trail runners globally. Next time you visit The Ridgeway, why not cheer on the runners and perhaps give it a try yourself? Check out our events webpage to see what running events are coming up…..

Notes: Besides running, you can find out more about famous wanderers, cyclists and horse riders in other Top 50 entries (not all Top 50 entries will be available until end of December 2023).

Return to Ridgeway Top 50 homepage.

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