18 Sep 20 by James Elson

2020 SDW50 Additional Information/ Guidelines

The 2020 South Downs Way 50 is scheduled to take place on 25th October 2020. Whilst continuing to monitor all possible information, our intention is to organise this race and to do so in the safest possible manner. We have looked extensively at every single aspect of event weekend and the plan below goes as far as possible to reduce risk of transmission as possible.

Ultimately the event can be conducted safely, within government guidelines, almost entirely outdoors and with social distancing possible at all stages. All staff and volunteers will be provided with full PPE. We have conducted a number of events since August 2020 and racing has returned safely and sustainably.

Things that can remain close to or the same as a ‘regular’ SDW50 (this is our eighth edition of the race):

  • Start and Finish
  • Number of check points
  • Medical support
  • Number of volunteers
  • Number of staff
  • Timing system
  • Course Marking
  • Course Sweeping
  • Crew Support and Access 
  • Overall timings and cut offs
  • UK Athletics Permit
  • Full Race Insurance

We must accept that for the time being, racing in the traditional sense with a mass start and regular aid stations is not going to be possible - UKA permit guidelines dictate that mass starts are not permitted. But with the following adaptations to our regular event weekend, we can mitigate for the risks concerned whilst delivering a great race weekend with as much of the traditional framework maintained as possible. Long distance trail races are by their very nature, largely self supported endeavours travelled solo or in a pair at relatively slow speeds. Therefore many of the traditional ‘issues’ of mass participation or road events are completely removed.

Ultimately the safest way for a runner to take part in this event, is to arrive at the start line ready to run with their bib on which has been posted out to them in advance, having been dropped off by a member of their household. To run the course with their full mandatory kit and a supply of water and race nutrition on their person, topping up from the crew person(s) at all the crew access points. To complete the course, collect their awards and to travel home with their crew.

But of course we are still able to cater for the runner who is alone and needs support from us as organisers.

We expect approximately 300 - 350 starters.

The following articles are where the 2020 SDW50 has additional or adapted protocols specifically to reduce the risk of transmission. All must be adhered to and should be looked at as an extension of the regular race rules. All of the usual race information applies, these items are in addition to that information:

Two overriding principals apply:

Social distancing along government guidelines is mandatory and entirely possible at every stage of event weekend. Runners, volunteers, crews, staff and pacers should all maintain social distancing at all times.

Gatherings of runners/ volunteers or any groups should be kept to a minimum.


If any runner, crew, pacer, volunteer or staff member has had any symptoms related to COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to race day then they must not attend the event.

Runners are limited to a maximum of 2 crew people and/or 2 vehicles at any one time on course. Eg. Runner may have two members from their household/ bubble in one vehicle, or two separate crew people each driving one vehicle each.

Runners must provide in advance of race day the name, email address and phone number of any person who is crewing during the event - such that if an infection is reported post race, we can hear from them or contact them immediately depending on circumstances.

Spectators are asked not to attend the race anywhere on course, at any time.

Runners must ensure their medical details and postal address are up to date on the race director registration system.


Runners will not need to register on race day itself. All bib numbers with timing chips attached will be posted out prior to the race.

Race Registration will not be available on Saturday at all, only on Sunday morning.

Registration will still be available at Hill Barn Recreation Ground/ Worthing College for bag drop, toilets or emergency bib collection (if a runner forgets or did not receive his or her bib). Runners must only attend registration if they have to, and should make plans to move directly from there to the start to begin their race. Changing and showers are not available.

There will be no kit check prior to the start, runners must have all mandatory equipment  on them at all times as per the normal race rules. Random kit checks will be carried out on course as usual by staff in full PPE.

No spectators or crew may attend the start. They must drop their runner and move immediately on from the area.

Bag drop: Queue for bag drop (finish and checkpoint drop bags) will be socially distanced and marshalled. Bags must be pre-labelled prior to arrival. Bags will be handled by volunteer or staff in PPE but bags will be placed against other bags and therefore runners should sanitise hands before and after collection.

Toilets: Will be kept clean and sanitised

There will be no ‘in person’ Race Briefing, The briefing will be recorded via video and the link shared 72 hours prior to the start.

Start: There will be a rolling start. Runners may start any time between 0600 and 0830. If runners miss the 0830 start they may not start the race. Runners may not start before 0600 as the timing system will not be set up before then.

Runners may start whenever they wish between 0600 and 0830 but we ask you to be as honest with your projected finish time as you can be and aim for the following approximate starting windows:

  • 11hr30-13hr: 0800-0830
  • 10hr - 11hr: 0720-0800
  • 9hr - 10hr: 0640-0720
  • Sub 9hr:         0600-0640

All runners will have their temperature checked at the start from a socially distanced volunteer or staff in full PPE/ face shield -  via a temperature gun. Runners exhibiting temps above 37.8C will not be permitted to start. Runners should expect not to wait at the start for any reason, just to walk up, have their temperature taken and begin their race immediately. When runners cross the timing mat their time will begin and they will have 13 hours maximum to complete the event from the time they cross the mat.

Runners can start with or run with other runners in the event, but only in groups up to 6 maximum and must maintain social distancing at all times. Marshals will ensure social distancing is maintained throughout the start area. Solo runners can begin within intervals of 20 seconds of one another. Pairs or Groups will need to leave 30 seconds after the previous runner/ runners. The trail is wide from the start with plenty of room for groups to pass one another and other trail users whilst maintaining social distance if overtaking. Start times of 0600-0830 mean a quiet time of day on the trail in general regards other users. 

Runners are asked please keep group sizes to a minimum out on the trail to make as much space as possible for other trail users.


Gates and stiles: Runners should not touch any gate or stile with uncovered hands eg. wear gloves or cover hands with sleeves to use.

Markings: Will be laid out as normal. Volunteers and staff laying markings will wear gloves/ appropriate PPE for the duration. Marking will be labelled with stickers detailing that volunteers have laid markings whilst wearing PPE/ Gloves. 

Masks/ PPE: Any indoor location you visit, you must wear a mask. We will have disposable masks available at the entrance to all indoor checkpoints but of course if runners have their own they should bring them. Runners will not be permitted in any indoor location without a mask on.

Staff/ Volunteers are to wear PPE at all times indoors and/ or when performing duties in or outdoors. 

Check Point etiquette: Each checkpoint will be split into two or three mini check points with access to liquid in up to six places to speed up the process. Arriving at the checkpoint, runners may just run past making sure their time is recorded by the timing beacon, or head into the tent/ hall. A staked funnel with social distancing imposed will be laid out for runners coming to use the aid. All runners must use sanitiser as they enter a checkpoint. If any of 3 mini checkpoints are empty, then a runner can come straight in. The checkpoints will be 3 tables set out length ways, with one volunteer managing each table. Runners will top up their bottles from the drinks provided and take any food that they need. One volunteer will marshal the entry process into the checkpoint/ sanitiser use and ensure no gathering in the check point area. Runners will take fluid and nutrition, then sanitise their hands again before moving out of the checkpoint on down the course.

Runners will serve themselves drinks, including refilling bottles and bladders. The normal three fluid options will be provided: Water, Tailwind and Coke/ Pepsi. All food will be served in single serve packets only (once again hands are to be sanitised on the way in and out of every check point). The minimum food provided at every check point will be (single serve packets/ items):

  • Cut Up banana
  • Satsumas
  • Sweets
  • Chocolate
  • Sausage Rolls
  • Mini Malt Loaf/ Cake Bars
  • Crisps
  • Mini Cheese/ Babybel
  • Gu Energy Gel Packets
  • Tailwind
  • Coke/ Pepsi
  • Water

Hot Drinks: The check points providing hot water are unchanged. Runners will be given packeted milk, tea bags, coffee and sugar with wooden stirrers to make their hot drink in the hot cup that they bring as part of their mandatory kit as usual.

There will be no hot food anywhere on course apart from the finish.

All of our sweepers will wear PPE/ gloves. Markings will be deposited at check points on arrival in bin bags and tied up.

Minibus: The sweeper minibus will operate as normal, our regular 17 seater bus. The maximum capacity of that bus will be 8 people including the driver to ensure social distancing and windows will be open as far as practical. The bus will be wiped down and sanitised after each use. Runners using the sweeper bus should wear a mask whilst on board. The driver will wear a mask whilst driving the vehicle.

Cut offs: Are as per normal - but are not fixed times during the rolling start. Any runner that misses a cut off will be informed at that check point or at worst, the following checkpoint if they are missed initially. Runners must stay within the relative cut offs for each check point. 

The medical team will operate a “Non” Standby at Aid Stations policy, but will attend when called in.  Ambulance Crews will be attending every incident in a minimum of Level 2 PPE (Gloves, Mask, Apron, Eye Protection) and reserves the right to pull anyone suspected of exhibiting Covid-19 Symptoms from the race with immediate effect. Where a runner, volunteer or crew exhibits COVID-19 Symptoms on race day, they are to be isolated from all other participants.  They will then need to be returned to “Home” to self isolate and arrange a swab test. 

Logistics vehicles: There will be full provision of wipes and sanitiser and spray in each vehicle. 

General Public/ Other trail users: As always, runners should give way to other trail users and be especially courteous when passing walkers, bikers and riders. To make sure to maintain social distancing when passing any other user and particularly through pinch points on narrow trail or through gates and stiles to stand well back where appropriate and allow others to pass safely and at distance.


Award collection: Awards will be laid out on tables for collection by each runner

Provision of hand sanitizer will be available at all stages, the finish, the food and the drop bag collection areas.

Photographer will operate as normal, but socially distanced.

Food and Drink will be in single serve packs: Hot drinks, hot water, basic single serve supplies. Takeaway hot dog or veggie dog will be provided, pre wrapped and prepared.

Runners must take immediate onward transport with crew, family, friends or taxi to hotel/ home. 

No Changing or showers are available. Toilets are available and will be cleaned hourly. 


Any runner, crew or volunteer must contact us if they show any Covid-19 symptoms within 7 days of the race. 

If there is any reported transmission or risk of transmission post race then all parties with any possible risk will be contacted.