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Kings Head Canter 2019

25 Years Of Cantering

Beautiful course; free beer (and glass); where do I sign up...?

OK, we admit it. We have a soft spot for the Kings Head Canter 5K. The next running will be on Bank Holiday Monday 28 August 2023 and runABC South's Alan Newman – who first ran this race in 2004 – will be there to celebrate the 25th-anniversary edition of this Sussex classic.

The race runs from one pub to another between two villages – Chiddingly and East Hoathly – on a course that has remained doggedly 20m short since 1998. This favourable discrepancy is more than offset by the undulating middle section on Allies Lane.

Runners assemble for the start opposite the Six Bells pub in Chiddingly after registering at Chiddingly Village Hall, where there is a small car park. Any spare kit can be put in Race Director Stuart Mills' van to be driven to the finish outside the Kings Head pub in East Hoathly. With luck, Stuart will arrive at the finish before you do, so that recording race times is not an issue!

This event requires a little more planning than a conventional race. Runners can park at the finish and jog or walk two miles on the beautiful Wealdway path across pasture land to the start, or use the same route in reverse as a warm-down. However, it is important – vital in this reporter's case – to factor in collecting your free pint of perfectly executed 1648 ale from the in-house brewery in exchange for your race number at the Kings Head.

Having sorted out the logistics, and bribed your designated driver, you are all set for an almost 5K blast through the country lanes in East Sussex. The first few hundred metres are downhill, but don't be fooled. The undulating mid-section kicks up quite steeply around 3K before an exhilarating downhill sweep to the finish line on the pub forecourt, with the whiff of the BBQ in your nostrils.       

To mark the 25th anniversary all previous male, female, and over-40 age-graded winners are invited. Nearly 5,000 runners have competed over the 25 years (apart from 2020, for obvious reasons). A specially crafted Kings Head Canter 5K beer glass will be awarded to all finishers and any non-running invited guests.

The course records for this event are 14:58 by Irishman Kevin Moore (Brighton & Hove AC) in 2019 – the only man under 15 minutes – and 17:10 by Caroline Hoyte (Arena 80) set in 2002. Hoyte is the most successful competitor with five victories between 2001 and 2019; James Baker (Chichester) is the most prolific male with three consecutive wins in 2008 – 2010. On age-graded results, Sally Musson (W70, Tonbridge) was the top scorer five times between 2009 and 2017, but the age-graded record is 92.8% by M40 Ian Leitch (Brighton Phoenix) for his 15:05 runner-up performance in 2019.

Results and previous reports are at runABC South's race listing here.

Photo from 2019 courtesy Jimmy the Snaps for Kings Head Canter 5K photos

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