Josh Barrow wins SDW50 ultra 2020

The smile that says it all for Josh Barrow

They went a mile high in the South Downs Way 50

That's the smile that says: “I've only gone and won it”! Josh Barrow put a field of 300 to the proverbial sword in the 2020 South Downs Way 50 from Hillbarn Recreation Ground, Worthing on Sunday (25 October).

It was a tough battle, with Ed Knudsen less than four minutes in arrears after 50 miles and 5,700 feet of elevation (81K and 1,750m of climbing) – whatever way you look at it that's more than a mile high!

Josh Barrow (6:15:06) could never relax with Ed Knudsen (6:18:57) on his tail. Tom Tweddell (6:29:49) just got the better of M50 master Jon Ellis (6:30:20) for third.

The women's race winner was W40 Michelle Maxwell (8:15:49) from Sharon Bolister (8:23:59) and W40 Kathleen Short (8:25:00) as 278 runners finished inside the 13 hours limit. 

Of course, it was not all tough hills and muddy footpaths. The final 400m was on Eastbourne Rovers' all-weather running track, which must have come as a shock to the system for the toughs of the ultra-running world.

There must be something about the mentality of ultra-endurance athletes and the unbreakable will of race organisers like Centurion Running that results in events of this nature going ahead and being so well supported.

Apart from the normal logistical problems of hosting a race that can take up to 13 hours to complete, there is the extended start window from 6:00am to 8:30am necessary to comply with COVID-secure regulations. This means that runners were underway between 6:00am and almost 9:00pm – requiring as much stamina from the marshals and officials as the competitors.

The SDW50 was postponed from 4 April due to the coronavirus pandemic. The course climbs from Worthing to join the South Downs Way at Chanctonbury Ring, following the National Trail for almost 44 miles before the steep descent to that spectacular finish in Eastbourne.

Race details and full results available at runABC South race listing here

Image by Jack Atkinson courtesy Centurion Running on facebook

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