For 2023 we had a new start to our race season, with the introduction of the Hundred Hills 50km. Based out of Stonor Park, set in the heart of the Chiltern Hills, the race travels around the surrounding countrside over two roughly equal loops, starting at Stonor, returning at half way and again for the finish.
350 runners lined up for the first edition, a real mixture of our regular Centurion runners and those brand new to both Centurion events but also the sport of ultra running.
The weather in the lead up had been wet and an overnight soaking left the course damp and muddy. With steady rain throughout loop one, things were tough underfoot in places but despite that runners seemed to be having an absolute blast, commenting to us at half way on how beautiful the course was.
As our leaders made it in to the finish, the sun finally burst through and we were treated to a drier second half and more of the celebratory feel we were hoping for when we put this in the calendar.
The ladies race was a closely fought affair with some brilliant running going on amongst the leaders. Celia Waring ran fastest out of the gate and into Ibstone, check point one at around 10km in, with Sophie Biggs our 2022 Chiltern Wonderland 50 winner right behind her in second place. Amy-Jo Clarke who won our North Downs Way 50 last year, passed both of the leading ladies on the way to CP2 at Skirmett, but it was Celia who ran into the half way aid station back at Stonor, about 300 metres or so up on Amy-Jo. They passed each other on the short out and back across the Estate to the check point.
Amy-Jo made her move coming down the hill into the fourth check point at Hambleden around 20 miles into the course, passing Celia in strong fashion and from there, gradually extended her lead over the closing 11 miles to finish with the win and another Centurion trophy in a time of 4:46:52. Celia came home just 9 minutes later for second place in 4:55 and third place went to Michelle Attridge in 5:00 who ran a fantastic race, climbing the rankings through to the finish.
Amy-Jo Clarke picked up her second Centurion race win
In the mens race, it was one man out front from the gun, Dan Weller. Dan grew his lead across the event and didn't look troubled for the win in a superb time of 4:05. Second place went to Richard Bedlow who climbed from sixth at check point one, gaining places throughout the race for his 4:17 finish. Samuel Anderson came home third in 4:21.
Dan Weller powered home for the mens win
Some superb age group performances were also laid down.
Teresa Reason took the FV40 prize in 5:22. First FV50 went to Dawn Godwin in 5:05 - what is astonishing here is that four FV50 ladies came home within 13 minutes of each other and any one of them would have taken the FV40 prize as well! Congratulations to Sophie Biggs, Tamsin Neale and Sharon Walker on some stellar running. First FV60 went to Patricia Keene in 7:54.
In the mens age categories, first MV40 went to Richard Bedlow - also second overall. First MV50 to Neil Martin in 4:35. First MV60 to David Prince-Iles in 5:30 and the MV70 prize to David Rootes in 7:26.
319 runners crossed the line within the 9 hour cut off. Helen Weeden gave us a good deal of excitement at the end, we knew from the tracker that she would be close to the final cut off but the extremely good visibility out down the estate path from the finish line meant the crowd could see her coming from a couple of minutes away. She crossed the line in 8:58:25 sending everyone home in great spirits to end a fantastic day!
Our huge thanks to the volunteer team that made this event possible. To Stonor Estate and the other village councils for allowing us to borrow this course for the day. We very much look forward to hosting the second edition of this race in March 2024.