Devilishly good performance from #666 James Turner
More than 2,000 took on the Seven Sisters
Beachy Head Marathon was one of the few events to have weathered the restrictions of the pandemic last year, with 1,196 finishing the full marathon and 277 running the supporting 10K. That was the yardstick to measure the success of this year's races and with more than 2,000 finishers it was mission accomplished for the VisitEastbourne Events Team in 2021.
Beachy Head Marathon was held on Saturday (23 October) with 1,560 completing the course in just over nine hours – another long day out for the ever-smiling volunteers and officials who make this event one of the bucket list races in the South.
A beautiful sunrise was followed by an 8:00am start and the punishing climb onto the South Downs at the end of stunning King Edward's Parade – the start of 1,318 metres of ascent on the 26.2-mile route mapped out by Eastbourne Council to showcase the beauty of the region, with a few flood mitigation alterations this year.
The course weaves its way through South Downs National Park and reaches halfway just after Borstall Hill. The tranquil silver ribbon of the waters at Cuckmere Haven is a highlight at 30K before Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters dominate the closing stages – this is a course with seven stings in its tail!
Just three men broke three hours this year: Brighton and Hove's 2:25:26 marathon runner James Turner (2:44:33), James Wright (2:45:32), and Ben Warren (2:52:50) but we have to give an honorable mention to the first M40 master Jeff Pyrah – just 27 seconds outside that threshold. Spookily, the winner was wearing race number 666!
This year's female champion was fifth overall. Jemima Farley (W35 Fulham, 3:05:48) led Amy Harris (3:12:17) and Becky Raftery (W35, 3:33:03) to the podium places.
The following day it was the turn of the Beachy Head 10K runners to experience the delights of the South Downs. The clifftop route enjoys the same stiff climb at the start, then crosses Long Down to Birling Gap before following the same South Downs Way finish of the marathon.
The holy grail in the 10K is to beat 40 minutes and that was achieved by Matt Edmunds (37:54) and M50 master James Cox (39:24), with Ollie Sprague (40:05) just missing that particular mark of excellence.
Sue Fry (W45, 43:55) headed an all-masters top three in the women's race under pressure from Lindsay Ibbott (W35, 44:59) and Liz Lumber (W55, 45:35). There were 130 finishers inside the hour and 453 were home in 2:11:28.
Image courtesy Beachy Head Marathon on Facebook