The South Downs Way 50 is a 50 mile continuous point to point trail race from Worthing to Eastbourne. The course follows the beautiful South Downs Way National Trail for the majority of the race. Runners must reach the finish within 13 hours to be elgible for awards. There are further cut offs on route.
The race starts at Hillbarn Recreation Ground on the outskirts of Worthing. Runners begin by negotating approximately 6 miles of hilly trail and tracks to join the South Downs Way National Trail at Chanctonbury Ring, just east of Washington.
The South Downs Way is a National Trail maintained by the National Trail Trust together with the various county councils and extends east to Eastbourne and west to Winchester. The South Downs have recently been classified as a national park and recognised as an area of outstanding beauty. The trail is open year round to the public, but crosses a mixture of private land and public byways. It is absolutely essential that runners respect the land at all times on the course. Much of the South Downs is working farmland and runners will come across countless fields containing sheep and cattle on route. For that reason it is essential that all gates be closed properly.
The South Downs Way crosses a huge range of terrain types and underfoot conditions vary greatly. The Downs are primarily composed of chalk, which tends to mean the trail is generally dry and usable year round, but also means the trail is very rough in places with a lot of loose stones and rocks. At times the SDW becomes dirt road, woodland track, rocky chalk ascents and descents, grass, mud or in places tarmac. The South Downs are one of the warmest and driest parts of the UK, but they are exposed, sitting high above the surrounding countryside, looking down across the coastline and English Channel in various places. It is therefore relatively easy to spot weather coming from any distance, but runners will be exposed both to whatever weather conditions prevail on the day as well as potentially very high winds. The winds commonly prevail from the West which will assist runners in their direction of travel. It is always possible that the wind may be blowing from any other direction which will hinder progress at certain spots.
All in all the scenery along the SDW is spectacular and there are truly few places more pleasurable to embark on a long distance trail run.
Runners will meet at Worthing College/ Hillbarn Recreation Ground between 0600 and 0830 on race day. There will be a race briefing at 0840 and the race will start at 0900 from the fields. Final Cut Off is at 2200 at the finish at Eastbourne Sports Park.
All rules are at the final discretion of the race management team. No challenges will be permitted.
1. There will be no unofficial runners. Unofficial runners will be banned from taking part in future Centurion events.
2. Each runners bib number must be worn on the front of the body and must be easily visible at all times.
3. Runners must follow the marked trail/ course at all times.
4. Each runner must complete the entire course under his or her own power.
5. Runners may not store supplies of any kind along the trail.
6. Each runner must be checked IN to all aid stations. DO NOT RUN PAST WITHOUT HAVING YOUR NUMBER TAKEN. You will be disqualified if you are not registered together with your time at every aid station.
7. Cut-off times will be strictly enforced. There are cut offs at EVERY aid station. Runners reaching the finish after the final cut off will not be listed as official finishers and will not be eligible for awards.
8. In addition to medical information provided by the runner during the online registration process, runners must fully disclose at race registration, changes to existing medical conditions and all prescription medications being taken.
9. Runners compete in this event entirely at their own risk including but not limited to road crossings, river crossings, level crossings and all other hazards of the trail. There will be a full waiver to sign at registration. Runners refusing to sign the waiver will not be permitted to start.
10. Littering of any kind will result in immediate disqualification. Runners caught littering will be banned from all future Centurion events. Please respect the natural beauty of our trails and the right of everyone to enjoy them. Littering will threaten our use of the trails and the future of the race.
11. Any runner who is unable to finish the race must personally inform the aid station captain of the nearest checkpoint of his decision to withdraw. HE OR SHE MUST HAND IN HIS RACE NUMBER TO THE AID STATION CAPTAIN AT THAT TIME. This serves as official notice of a runner’s withdrawal from the race. Runners who leave the course without turning in their number will be classified as “lost,” initiating serach and rescue, for which the runner will be charged.
12. Runners are responsible for the actions of their crews. If your crew are deemed to have broken any of the runner race rules or separate rules for crews, the runner will be held accountable. Your crew act on YOUR behalf and based on YOUR instructions.
13. Minimum Entry Age by distance in accordance with the UK Athletics permitting is 18 years of age.
14. Pacers are not permitted at any stage of the run.
15. Runners must carry with them AT ALL TIMES the mandatory equipment required. There will be kit checks before the race and potentially again during and after the race. A time penalty of one hour will be imposed for any item found to be missing at any point on course:
There are many options regards kit for fulfilling these requirements and those of other events. We stock what we believe to be the best options at our online store available by clicking here under the Mandatory Gear Section. Please ask us if you have any questions.
Strongly recommended but not mandatory:
16. There will be mandatory gear checks at the start, on route, or at the finish. Failure to comply with the gear checks will result in disqualification.
17. Runners are not to be accompanied by dogs at any time whilst on course.
18. Runners must use the footbridge over the railway track at Southease. Running across the tracks will result in immediate disqualification.
The South Downs Way is used by, but not limited to, horse riders, walkers and mountain bikers. Please be aware of other people whilst you are running and be as polite and courteous as possible to them, making way when necessary, particularly to horses. You do not have priority over any other users out on the course, most will be totally unaware of the event taking place. All gates must be properly closed after you have gone through.
RULE VIOLATION PROCEDURE
Any protests to a ruling or of a runner to runner violation must be submitted by a registered entrant and must be lodged using the following procedure:
1. Report the alleged violation to the runner or his/her crew as the incident occurs. Enlist a fellow witness to the alleged violation if possible.
2. Report the alleged violation with the runner’s name and number to the next available aid station staff.
3. Report the alleged violation in writing at the finish line to the race director. All protests must be submitted by 6pm on Monday following the race. Written protest must include the name of the person who lodged the complaint.
4. Decision on all violations and rules is at the final discretion of the Race Management ONLY. There will be no challenges after that decision.
Crews are in no way essential at this event, we look after you with fully stocked aid stations, medical support and plenty of volunteers to help you on your way. However, having a crew can provide a psychological lift and ensure that you have the food and drink you prefer and changes of clothing along the way.
Crews must follow all of the rules and regulations of the race, including the Rules, Rules for Crews and any supplementary instructions issued in pre-race memos or at the race briefing. All crew members must willingly comply with all instructions from race staff at all points along the trail and its access routes, including parking regulations, or risk disqualification of their runner.
The runner is directly responsible for all of the actions of his or her crew throughout the duration of the event.
RULES FOR CREWS
A crew member is defined as any individual who provides material support to a runner during the event.
Crews may meet runners or assist them ONLY at the points listed on the crew info page here. The aid station locations and many other points on the SDW are remote and too small to handle ANY additional parking. If your crew do assist you outside of the permitted points, you the runner will be disqualified. PLEASE ensure your crew do not break this rule - you will threaten the future of the race by doing so. YOU are responsible for the actions of your crew. We cannot make this any clearer, if your crew attend anywhere outside areas deemed as permitted crew access, you risk disqualification from the event. We get people every year who are fully aware of the rules and continue to disobey them. It threatens the future of the event so please ask them not to do it.
Crews must always drive at safe speeds.
Crews must never park illegally on the road, or in such a way as to block traffic, access to the trail or checkpoint, or other parked cars.
Littering of any kind at any checkpoint, along the trail, or at the finish line is strictly prohibited.
NOTES FOR CREWS
A daypack can be helpful in transporting supplies to your runner.
Crews should be equipped with torches and first aid kits.
As the day progresses, crews should take care of themselves as well as they take care of their runners. Adequate hydration, regular meals and appropriate clothing will keep crew members happier, stronger and focused on the needs of their runner.
RUNNERS WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF THEIR CREWS
The South Downs Way 50 is an extremely challenging event and participation presents numerous medical risks, many of which can be extremely serious or fatal.
Participation in this event is at the runner’s own risk. Although medical personnel are positioned at various points along the course, the inaccessibility of much of the trail will make it difficult or impossible for medical assistance to reach the runner immediately.
Medical support at the race is under the direction of the Race Medical Director who’s details to be used in an emergency will be made available to all runners at registration, further to that of the Race Director.
The medical team on site for the weekend is provided by GB Emergency Medical Services. At any one time during the race there will be ambulances and roving cars along the course. There will also be a static medical team at the finish from the time of the first, to the time of the last finisher. In addition there will be medical crews at some of the major aid stations.
It is important for each entrant to recognise the potential physical and mental stresses, which may evolve from participation in the race. Runners may be subject to extremes of heat, cold, hypothermia, hyperthermia, dehydration, hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, disorientation and mental and physical exhaustion. We and the medical staff strive to work with runners and will do all we reasonably can to ensure “safe passage” to the finish line, but ultimately runners must understand their own limitations. Adequate physical and mental conditioning prior to the race is mandatory. If you have not been able to prepare properly, do not attempt to run. Runners entering an ultra distance trail event must understand that the trail is at times remote and access via anything other than on foot is not possible. You must be capable of self sufficiency.
Runners should appreciate the risks associated with participation in this event. Actions may have to be taken on your behalf under extreme time constraints and adverse circumstances. We will make every effort to give assistance whenever possible but ultimately and primarily you are in charge, and you are likely to be solely responsible for creating your own crisis that we must then respond to. Be careful, be responsible, and do not exceed your own abilities and limitations. IN THE EVENT THAT A RUNNER REQUIRES EMERGENCY EVACUATION, THE RUNNER ASSUMES ALL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS CONNECTED WITH THIS SERVICE. CENTURION RUNNING AND GB EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DEBTS INCURRED. Runners should have adequate insurance in place to cover those eventualities.
Some of the main risks, but certainly not all of them, are listed here. These should be understood and remembered by all runners, before and during the event. Please note that death can result from several of the risk conditions discussed below.
1. Renal Shutdown: Renal shutdown occurs from muscle tissue injury which causes the release of myoglobin, a protein material, into the blood plasma. Myoglobin is cleared from the blood stream by the kidneys and will look brownish-colored in the urine. Adequate hydration will help flush myoglobin through the kidneys. Overwhelming amounts of myoglobin may clog the filtering system of the kidneys either partially or totally. If not treated, renal shutdown can cause permanent impairment of kidney function. IT IS CRUCIAL TO CONTINUE HYDRATING USING ELECTROLYTE FLUIDS DURING THE FINAL HOURS OF THE RUN AND FOR SEVERAL HOURS/ DAYS FOLLOWING THE RUN OR UNTIL THE URINE IS LIGHT YELLOW AND OF NORMAL FREQUENCY. There is extensive research to support the claim that NSAIDs (ie. ibuprofen/ paracetemol etc) greatly increase a runners chances of reaching a stage of renal shutdown. We will not provide Ibuprofen or paracetemol at any aid station and you are strongly advised not to take it during or immediately after the run. More information on this subject can be obtained by contacting the race director.
2. Effects of Cold/Hypothermia: Temperatures in April in the UK are usually around 10 degrees celsius in daytime, however temperatures can be much colder. With wet conditions and/or moderate to high winds runners will be open to exposure during the event. Hypothermia is a serious risk when runners energy reserves have been depleted from up to 13 or more hours of running. Hypothermia can strike very quickly, particularly when pace slows from exhaustion or injury. The initial warning signs of hypothermia often include lethargy, disorientation and confusion. The runner will feel very cold with uncontrolled shivering and may become confused, unaware of the surroundings, and may possibly be an immediate danger to his or herself. Staying well-nourished, adequately hydrated and appropriately clothed will help avoid hypothermia. High winds, cold weather and low visibility are all common occurences up on the SDW ridge.
3. Risks Associated with Low Sodium and Chloride Counts: Low sodium levels (hyponatremia) in ultramarathon runners have been associated with severe illness requiring hospitalisation. It is important for long-distance athletes to use fluids or eat foods containing electrolytes/ salt to replace the water and salts lost during exercise. WATER INTAKE ALONE IS NOT SUFFICIENT, as water intoxication and possibly death may result. This problem may in fact worsen after the Race, as the non-electrolyte-containing fluid which has been accumulating in the stomach is absorbed. Potassium and calcium replacement may also be important, although these levels change less with fluid loss and replenishment. Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include; weight gain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, lack of coordination, dizziness, muscle twitching/cramping and fatigue. If left untreated, it may progress to seizures, pulmonary and cerebral edema, coma and death. There are two ways to put oneself at risk of hyponatremia; 1) over-hydration (with water or even electrolyte-containing sports drinks) and 2) replacing sweat with hypotonic fluids. Risks of hyponatremia include weight gain and low sweat rate.
Risks of hyponatremia can be minimised by eating salted foods a few days prior to the race, matching fluid and electrolyte intake to sweat losses and monitoring weight. The best way to achieve proper electrolyte and fluid balance is to hydrate with fluids containing proper amounts of electrolytes and to replace with sodium-containing foods or supplements, if required, and as determined during your training. Electrolyte fluids should be consumed for a good period (a few hours) after the race. Once the gut is working and adequate hydration has occurred, the normal balance of thirst, hunger, digestion and kidney filtration will maintain the proper balance of fluids and electrolytes. Water or dilute sports drinks should be consumed only after the onset of urination.
4. Vehicle Hazards: Much of the trail is near to, crosses or travels along roads which are NOT marshalled. There are therefore several areas on the course where runners must be watchful for vehicles. Runners cross all roads at their own risk.
5. Use of Drugs: No drugs of any kind should be taken before, during or immediately after the race. Many drugs can increase the risk of heat stroke. A partial list of problem drugs include amphetamines, tranquilizers, and diuretics.
7. Injuries from Falling: Falling is an ever-present danger on trails, with potentially serious consequences. Much of the trail is narrow, uneven and rutted. The course may be covered with sitting water, snow or ice which will create significant challenges and potential hazards to runners.
8. Overuse Injuries: Obviously, innumerable overuse injuries can occur, especially in the knee and the ankle. Sprains and fractures can easily occur on the trails. Blisters may also halt progress.
9. Common Fatigue: One of the dangers you will encounter is fatigue. Fatigue, combined with the effects of dehydration, hypothermia, hyperthermia, hyponatremia, hypoglycemia and other debilitating conditions can produce disorientation and irrationality.
10. Difficulty in Gaining Access to or Locating Injured Participants: Much of the trail is inaccessible by motor vehicle. Accordingly, in spite of the many layers of safety precautions instituted by the race management (including radio communications, sweepers, foot patrols and other emergency services and medical personnel at many checkpoints), there is absolutely no assurance that aid or rescue assistance will arrive in time to give you effective assistance should you become sick, incapacitated or injured.
What to do in a Medical Emergency:
If there is a problem and you need the Medical Team either to attend or just for advice, call: 07040 900 402 at ANY time during the event.
This will put you through to the Event Medical Team Leader who will co-ordinate any response and/or give advice, Our team will be happy to talk you through Emergency Aid Procedures on the phone whilst they are on their way to you.
If you are ill/injured or have found someone who is ill/injured and need the medical team to attend your location, we’ll need to know the following:
Your Phone Number (In case we need to call you back)
Where You Are (Preferably Sat-Nav’able Location, e.g. Outside the Church on South Street in Redhill or 1 Mile along the route from where it crosses the A3), we’re also able to access Lat/Long if you have a GPS with that capability.
Your name and/or Runner Number and that of the Casualty if Different.
What’s wrong? What do you need the medical team for?
If you are not the casualty, but have found them, please stay with them until help arrives, whilst this may impact on your personal best, at least you’ll have a good excuse
Make the casualty as visible as possible and keep them warm, It is mandatory for each runner to carry a “Foil Blanket” which should be used if you're in any doubt at all.
Do not allow the casualty to move UNLESS they are in an unsafe position, e.g. in the middle of a busy road and there is no other option.
Do not give the casualty anything to eat or drink until the medical team arrive as they may require surgery or medical procedures at hospital and food/drink will delay this being able to happen.
Be ready to flag down the Medical Team when they are close by.
The phone used to call the Medical Team must remain with the casualty until the medical team arrives, if we’re having difficulty finding you, we will call you back.
General Rule: If the Casualty is NOT BREATHING, is likely to STOP BREATHING imminently, call 999 for the Ambulance Service, then the Event Medical Team (We ask that you call both because we may be close by and can assist until the 999 Service Arrives), for all other Injuries/Illnesses, call the Event Medical Team on the above number FIRST and we’ll take it from there.
If you just need advice, give the Medical Team a call on the number above, or speak to one of the marshalls.
There are other significant risks to runners during the race which do not fall under the medical category. The major ones are listed here and all runners should be aware of these prior to race day.
1. Social Hazards. The SDW50 course makes its way through villages as well as many more remote sections of countryside and in the last 2 miles, through the outskirts of Eastbourne Town Centre. There is always the opportunity for undesirable characters to be on or around the trail and the chance that they may cause trouble for runners. Runners who want to listen to music should use headphones should be aware of their surroundings at all times on the trail.
2. Road/ Level Crossings. As mentioned frequently throughout this document, there are many road crossings, busy road junctions to negotiate and sections of the trail that travel along roads. The junctions will NOT be marshalled. You the runner must be alert and aware at all times when emerging on to roads. We advise all runners to recce the route prior to race day. It is YOUR responisibility as a runner to navigate all road crossings safely. Runners must use the footbridge over the railway track at Southease, negating the danger of the level crossing.
3. Getting lost. Whilst the course is marked, runners must be prepared to follow the National Trail waymarkers as the principal source of navigation, remembering that the acorn is the symbol of the National Trail. The South Downs Way is the major trail through this area. Race staff and the volunteers do their best to provide a marked trail, but it is necessary for runners to continually remain alert as they travel. In places, the SDW travels through large open fields or hillsides where it is impossible to place markers. Furthermore, on occasion, course markings may be removed or vandalised. Knowledge of the trail will be of infinite benefit to the runner. You are ultimately responsible for following the correct course. The course will be marked with tape and directional arrows but these are out in the open and may be removed or vandalised during the course of the event. If you do lose the route, check your map and return to the last marker point you saw on the trail and make your way once again from there. If you are still unsure, wait for another runner to come through who might have experience of the course first hand.
These type of running events survive because of the incredible volunteers who work the aid stations. Without them there would be no race. There are a total of 8 aid stations, including the finish location.
The aid stations are well stocked with fluids and a variety of foods. The fluids that are generally available are Water and Coke. The foods that are generally available are fruit, cookies, chocolate bars, jelly babies, crisps, nuts, a limited number of energy gel packets, sandwiches, wraps etc. At Alfriston, Jevington and the finish there will be hot drinks. There will be hot food at the finish.
The use of Ibuprofen can lead to kidney problems when used in abundance and/or under stressful conditions such as running long distance races. We will not provide these medications at our aid stations. If you feel the need to bring and use your own pain medications or anti-inflammatories, then you are willing to assume the responsibility for their use.
Without the assistance of the volunteers and race medics, there would be no race. Many of these volunteers have spent days preparing for the run and will be out on the course over both Friday and Saturday, assisting runners. They have given up their weekend to insure you the best possible chance of success. Courtesy and sincere thanks from the runners will go a long way to help make their day.
Cut-off and “pace” times are listed on the Aid Station Chart. Cut-off times reflect the deadlines for LEAVING the aid station. If you return to an aid station after the cut-off, you will be WITHDRAWN from the race. The cut-off times will be strictly enforced by the Aid Station Teams. Anyone leaving an aid station after the cut-off time will be disqualified. This rule is for the safety of all participants. There is NO NEGOTIATION on the cut off times.
IF YOU MISS THE CUT-OFF EVEN BY A MINUTE, YOU MUST STOP. Significant sanctions will apply to anyone breaking this rule. If you miss a cut off you must hand in your race number to the aid station, at which point you are officially withdrawn from the race. The aid station captains will try to relocate you to where you need to go but please remember they are not under any obligation to do so. Once again our first priority is to the runners still in the race and aid station personnel may well have dual duties at other aid stations to attend to once their station closes. The sweeper bus will travel with the cut offs picking up dropped runners, but please be aware you may have to wait for a considerable amount of time for the bus to leave, they will not do so until all runners are accounted for through that checkpoint. Please do not argue with our aid station volunteers, they are there of their own good will.
All finishers under the 13 hour cut off will receive a medal and technical finishers t-shirt.
Runners crossing the finish line after the 13 hour cutoff will not be listed as official finishers and will not be eligible for awards.
Male and Female Race winners will be awarded additional prizes marking their achievement.
The race start and location of race parking is at Hillbarn Recreation ground, Hill Barn Lane, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 9QF. There is parking at the start.
The race finish is at Eastbourne Sports Park, Cross Levels Way, Eastbourne, BN21 2UF. The ground is behind Eastbourne District Hospital, but there is no access through the hospital itself. The Sports Park is adjacent to Sussex Downs Vocational Sixth Form College and Park College. It is clearly marked on Cross Levels Way. There is a large gravel parking area in front of the track/ stadium which belongs to the college but is free to park in at weekends.