RUNNERS’ NEWS (South Downs Relay)

Daniel Pressley
June27/ 2013

Dear All


Massive congratulations to the superb SDR team – Ewan Dunlop, Briam Mason, Scott Chinchen, Matt Hales, Richard Morrice and Neil Sampson. And – perhaps most importantly – the ever-reliable, ever-enthusiastic Malcolm Hales driving the bus.

Here is Ewan’s superb report of the race. Big big thank you to Ewan for writing this.

I have put an excerpt of the the text here, but here is the link to Ewan’s superb running blog – where you will be able to read the whole report with the pictures and also read entertaining reports of Ewan’s other fantastic ultra-running exploits . Please have a look!


Happy running,






.This annual relay race pits around 50 running clubs against each other over 18 legs and the full 100 miles of the South Downs Way. Teams consisting of 6 runners in male, female or mixed categories kick off between 5am and 9pm (depending on their predicted finish time) and take turns running between 4 and 8 miles in length each (three each in total) until the final runner crosses the finish line just outside Winchester around 12 hours later.
I ran this race as part of the Steyning AC mens team in 2012 and enjoyed it so much I was very keen to represent the club again, so when Simon James made the call I was straight on board. As with the 2012 running, the weather for the day was destined for glorious sunshine through out. This may sound all well and good for a spectator, but it’s not so wonderful when running along white chalk paths in the middle of the day.

No, not Gok Wans next project, it’s Team Steyning AC: Matt, myself, Richard, Scott, Neil and Brian

The class of 2013 consisted of Neil Sampson, Richard Morrice, Scott Chinchen, Matt Hales, Brian Mason and myself. Arguably the most important member of the team however was non-runner Malcolm Hales, the Jackie Stewart of Steyning AC, and once again our mini-bus pilot for the day. It must be said to that you can’t just rock up with any old driver at this race, as within thirty seconds of the hooter going off at Beachy Head, the next 12 hours is a “Wacky Races” style convoy to Winchester. Malcolm’s almost suspicious in depth knowledge (as if he’s courted many a girl along many a back lane) of the entire SDW route is incredible, and meant we often departed behind a rival mini-bus, but arrived before them at the next checkpoint.
On a personal level, I went into this race with a horrendous cold. So much so that I asked Simon to seek an alternative runner if possible the day beforehand. I knew I was gong to be a very weakened link but with no reserve runner available I grabbed some tissues, pulled on my man-suit and met the mini-bus at 5:45 on the Sunday morning. With the team gathered and just about raring to go, we boarded the mothership and headed East ready for our 7:30am start. The journey of an hour or so gave us all time to rub the dust from our eyes, have a bit of breakfast and start applying the sun-tan lotion. Unfortunately upon arrival at Beachy Head it was bloody freezing and so all the jackets and hoodies in sight were thrown on.

7:30am – Beachy Head. So cold that some consider taking the path to the right…

Afte a race briefing and words of good luck, the first runners including Matt for Steyning lined up for the gun. There was no gun in fact, but a man in a Mac shouted “GO” and we were off… off back to the mini-bus for some warmth.

7:31am – We’re off! Matt Hales tactically takes to the grass to preserve his knees

The first few checkpoints came and went with Steyning looking strong and keeping up with, if not ahead of the several teams in our same alloted start-time. The race gets really interesting and check points much busier as the race progresses. The staggered start time is put in place so all the teams in theory finish at the same time. Therefore as the race goes on, each checkpoint gets busier and harder to park at… unless you’ve got old Jackie “I’ll park where I bloody like” Stewart at the helm.

Matt flies into the busy Washington checkpoint

By the time we reached Washington each member of the team had run at least one leg and we were properly into the swing of things. The camararderie in the mini-bus and particularly around checkpoints mulitplies as the day goes on as there are more and more rival teams cheering through their runners. Washington was no exception and was particularly crammed full of teams eagerly waiting for and then roaring on their changeover of team members.


Daniel Pressley
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