An ultra, full and half marathon trial run across stunning Sussex countryside. It’s a new, small race that is well organised and set to grow and grow.
Where: Chiddingly, Sussex.
Size: Around 300 runners
Distances: Ultra Marathon, Marathon and Half Marathon
Reviewed: 2014 (Half Marathon)
Make sure you train for gradual and long hills
Try to pay attention to the race directions and watch out for signs as it’s easy to get lost
As the race moto states – have a good time and be kind to other runners
Enjoy the brilliant range of treats at the end!
What’s the organisation and set up like?
The race is organised by Trail Running Sussex and this was an inaugural race. There are 3 distances to choose from, half marathon, full marathon and a 50km ultra marathon. You sign up to the race online and until the race day you receive regular e-mail updates regarding the race, getting there, registration, route, nutrition during the race and start times.
Given that this was the inaugural race, the organisation was superb.
Arriving at the race headquarters there was plenty of parking as registration is held at a local primary school. All runners and spectators are treated to free tea and coffee courtesy of Taylor St Baristas while waiting for the race to start.
The ultra runners start first, then the marathoners and the half marathoners start last, with the intention for all to complete the race at about the same time and take part in the medals ceremony. On the finish line there is a selection of delicious freshly baked cakes for everyone, more bananas, jaffa cakes, and again free tea and coffee.
All finishers receive a bespoke Weald Challenge mug in which they could enjoy the tea and coffee. This is a particularly nice touch and very rewarding after all the hard work on the road!
What’s the course like?
The course has a nice mixture of farmlands, fields, sheep pastures, scenic country villages, country estates, some of which are flat and some hilly.
There is also a lot of turnstiles to jump across and some muddy pathways to keep you entertained. The scenery is beautiful and on a sunny day the route is very pleasant. The race director Stuart Mills used to train along this route and he thought that this could make a great race. That was a very good idea!
How difficult is The Weald Challenge?
We would rate it at a medium difficulty level.
The hills are gradual and not too steep, which makes the running difficult but still enjoyable. The route marking is a bit of a challenge to follow and you have to focus really hard on following it, but it isn’t impossible.
This reviewer nearly got lost, but a friendly walker who I ran past on one of the fields advised me to take the first right, which saved me a lot of time.
There is great selection of nutrition for every runner at the stations along the route, comprising water, coke, Torq gels, jelly babies, biscuits, flapjacks and bananas. We may have forgotten some as there was so much choice!
What’s the atmosphere like?
The atmosphere is very friendly as it is a relatively small event with about 300 runners across the three distances. The race organizer said that his intention is to keep rules to a minimum; he just asks for everyone to look after themselves, be kind to other runners and the race marshals and to have a good time. A good philosophy and it seems to work well.
What is there to do Après Race?
The race starts and finishes in a small village of Chiddingly, where the local shop opens on a Sunday especially for the event. You can buy local produce such as free range duck and hen eggs and local ewe cheese.
There is also a surrealist art gallery and a cafe there, as well as a real ale festival in the local pub which was on at the same time this year (2014).
My race went exceptionally well, I finished the half marathon in the 26th overall place and the 3rd woman, which meant I got my first ever trophy! I am very proud of myself and looking forward to the rest of the season.
I ended up with 1:56 which I’m really pleased with as well.