Melissa Venables

Juhana Kirk & Melissa Venables boss NDW 100

Torrid conditions for toughest post-lockdown race to date

There were more withdrawals than finishers in the 10th North Downs Way 100 mile race from Farnham Leisure Centre, Surrey to Julie Rose Stadium at Ashford, Kent on Saturday (8 August). 

All finishers inside 24-hours receive the coveted '100 Miles – One Day' buckle and race shirt. With the mercury nudging 32C during the heat of the day the attrition rate was exceptional and only 15 men and two women achieved these elite awards. A further 90 endurance athletes completed the course inside the official 30-hour cut off time and the last to arrive at the finish line on the track at Julie Rose Stadium was Nicholas Hillier at 29:56:05.

Although 107 finished, there were 235 starters – a finisher percentage of just over 45% – as athletes withdrew due to the heat and/or were outside compulsory cut-off times. Safety is always paramount at these long-distance events and there were a number of enhanced measures in force to comply with COVID-secure status for 2020.

Innovations deployed by Centurion Running for NDW100 included a pre-race briefing by video; all staff and volunteers provided with PPE; full medical support with COVID-secure transport and isolation capabilities; posted bib numbers and a rolling start between 5:00 am and 7:00 am. In addition, all runners had compulsory start-line temperature checks, and start/finish and checkpoint areas were fully marshaled to ensure social distance was maintained.     

This year's worthy champions were 2:44 marathoner Juhana Kirk (Lingfield RC, 19:33:27) and W45 Melissa Venables (Spa Striders, 21:42:49) – pictured above – who completed 152.5 km in 24 hours in a track race at Tooting Bec last year. 

The men's top three was completed by M40 Ashley Varley (19:51:43) and M50 Vince Darley (21:03:16) while the women's podium was filled by W40 Jillian Convey (23:10:18) and Dominique James (24:24:09).

Despite the torrid conditions for the longest and toughest post-lockdown race to date, social media channels were buzzing with positive comments, including this from Mark Attenborough, who spotted some NDW100 runners on his Sunday morning training run and was inspired: “Well done everyone. Was good to see some runners out on my Sunday run on the NDW. Good chat with the friendly aid station crew at Dunn St Farm. Excited now for the NDW50”. 

Full details at Centurion Running here and results available here

Image courtesy Stuart March Photography/Centurion Running

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