2012 North Downs Way 100 miler and 50 miler

As a long time ultra-runner I have recently established a new race for 2011 for runners who in particular, like me, want to challenge themselves over the 100 mile distance on trails.

The NDW100 is a 100 mile continuous trail race along the North Downs Way from Farnham in the Surrey Hills to the Greater London border at Knockholt Pound and return. Total Climb: 12,100 feet.

The 100 mile course is a 50 mile out and back in the same mould as the now famous Leadville 100. The race begins in Farnham at the Western end of the North Downs and travels through stunning countryside to the outermost edge of the Greater London boundary at Knockholt Pound. The course then returns to Farnham via the reverse of the same route. The course is fully marked from end to end requiring no map reading and there are a total of 16 aid stations along the length of the route.

There are also 50 mile and marathon distance options over the same course. All 3 races take place over the weekend of August 13th/ 14th 2011. If you want any more details please have a look at www.centurionrunning.com or e mail me at racedirector@centurionrunning.com



  • James - I wish you well with your venture, but feel that (even for Surrey) your pricing is stiff here.

    I train on the first 20-30m of this course regularly and it is lovely countryside for sure - but does it compare with Lakeland 100 at much better pricing. Or this Sunday's LDWA Winter Tanners (only 30m around Box and Leith Hill etc) but a bargain at £7.00!!!

    As I said, I wish you well...but the pricing is beyond me especially as its my home turf.

    Are ultras going the same way as triathlon??????
  • Team Hurtmore I totally understand where you are coming from and thank you for the well wishes. I can tell you however, that these races are being put on by runners for runners only and are not for profit entities, in conjunction with the Trail Running Association. My first love in running is 100 mile trail racing. We have, currently no more than a handful of options that fit that brief in the UK at the moment, hence the creation of this race/ series.

    The set up costs of a race like this are actually staggering. I do not believe ultra will ever go the same way as triathlon for numerous reasons including: much lower number of ultra runners compared to triathletes, the costs of setting up a running race being significantly less and thirdly we have an ultra community which I believe would reject organisations that attempted to lead ultrarunning down that path. This article gives a little more insight into that: http://nyti.ms/huLvQq

    If you take Winter Tanners for example (which I will be at again this year) it is as simple as pie and excellent with it. You have a printed set of instructions and make your way to checkpoints where you are provided with food and water and that is that.

    I am attempting to bring all of the things which I love so much about ultra trail racing, to life. Firstly the course will be 100% marked negating the need for map reading and more importantly bringing race conditions to life where competitors need to get from A to B only in the fastest and safest way. Secondly we will have full medical support for the duration in the form of qualified race medics, something I believe is extremely important in races of this length. Thirdly we are providing 16 (albeit 8 repeated) fully stocked aid stations offering cold and hot food at points as well as shelter for runners. Lastly, we will be handing out not only medals and race shirts but buckles at the finish line. They are a much coveted award, hard earned and treasured as a possession. I want the finishers to take something away with them that they are proud of and that other runners will covet (that is contentious I know). When you put together the cost of the logistics, website, aid stations, car hire, medical support, start/ finish hall hire, food, water, finisher awards and petrol costs you can imagine how the costs mount up.

    The entry fee is a very difficult thing to get right. In this first year the end goal is to put on the best possible race for the runners at the lowest possible cost without incurring significant personal debt. There are ways to cut down on cost, lower quality or non-existent finishers awards, no medical back up, reduced aid station fare or aid station frequency, not marking the course, more basic website, abandoning venue hire at the start/ finish.... you get the picture. The reason many of the events in the UK are less costwise to enter are because some of these facets are quite clearly missing. That is not a fault of those races, the directors have just set them up in a slightly different way according to conditions, location, their preferences and logistical issues. In years to come (and I really really hope this race and others like it will gain enough support to continue to exits) it is highly likely the costs will come down for entry rather than go up. Ironically the more runners that enter, the lower the entry fee need be but having spoken with numerous other ultra race directors in the UK with races live at the moment (Dick Kearn, Henk Van Der Beek, Jen Jackson) entry numbers in years 1 - 3 are usually quite low as word of mouth is such a huge part of our sport.

    I hope that those whom have signed up and will sign up will come away feeling like they got value from every penny.
  • James - this is very interesting and I appreciate the costs and hard work involved and the good intentions that you have to share your passion for 100mile runs. And again I wish you well.

    As always, its horses for courses...the reason why I like an ultra is the raw, nature and simplicity of the events. Triathlon used to be lack that (and decent value!). I also like the challenge of navigation....the thought of marker tape along the NDW sends shivers down my spine. I hope that unlike other races in this region that there will be no traces left after the event.

    Anyway, good luck to you and all the runners. Given the terrain, they will truly have earned their buckles!

    p.s. sorry if the comments came across as overly negative

  • TH I did see a lot of strange looking Orange frog type spray paint on trees and posts along the section from Farnham to Guildford a few weeks ago which i thought was disgraceful. The tape is there only to keep very tired 100 mile runners on track and particulary to warn them of the many short but potential hazardous road crossings. Will only be out for 48 hours and all removed. We are working with NDW Trail manager to see if we can make improvements to the trail/ waymarkers etc as part of our being able to use the trail.

    Thanks for your thoughts all feedback is really useful at this point.

    All the best with your running.
  • I would agree that £100 does seem a lot, but then again I would rather pay that and scrap a few other planned races if I couldn't afford it.

    I would also rather not have to deal with navigation, as for those of us who find it difficult to find our cars in the supermarket car park, the thought of ending up doing more than 100 miles is not great.

    It is also a plus that you do not have to have 'motorized support' as many very long ultra race organisers insist.

    Good luck with the race James. I won't be fit enough for this year but will keep an eye on your website for the next race. Any thoughts on where the next one will be yet?

  • Hi Morticia I have one or two ideas but it is very early days. I want to make sure this first event is as great as possible and undoubtedly we will learn a lot (not too much though I'd like to think we can get it pretty close to awesome the first time out...). Obviously we won't be trying to do anything which clashes with existing great races such as CCER, the SDW, L100 and GUCR. I will post things on this forum as and when things progress at all. There are 50 mile and marathon distance options on the NDW race weekend if 100 non-stop is too big a step at the moment which I quite understand!

    Thank you cragchick it is taking over my life at the moment and with 6 x 100s to run myself in 2011 it is a big old year!!!!

    Enjoy the trails!
  • Just wondering..

    You consulted Dick, organiser of the Grand Union Canal race-£50ish pounds for 145 miles of supremely organised and supported race, Henk, organiser of an excellent(if somewhat flat) set of endurance races which are again well supported-£32 for the 100mile option this year and Jen, a newby organiser so is empathic to your situation but still only charged £30ish last year.

    How have you worked out your costs?

  • Hi All

    I have been pondering for the last year or so which race would be my first 100miler. There are a few to choose from but none of them ticked all my boxes.

    Lakeland 100 would have been too difficult for my first 100. Housman 100 was full on navigation although I do enjoy self nav I didn't fancy it after 20 hours on my feet. I nearly entered The SDWR but had reservations about the amount of support on route.

    When this race came along I was over the moon it has everything. It's on one of my favorite trails, the trail will be marked for the day, the fully equipped aid stations and a buckle that I will keep for ever.

    I have wanted to run a 100 for about 3 years so all my training and racing has lead to this so the fact it is £100 doesn't bother me in the slightest. More importantly it ticks all my boxes for a well organised and safe event.

    So for what it's worth I'm in and I can't wait.

    James please don't let negative feedback sway you from what you are doing. I think you've got it spot on and I'm sure others will feel the same.

    Bring on August 13!

  •  James for what it's worth I'm with Dill, this years is a little close to the C.C.C for me, assuming I get a place of course. If I'm not lucky enough to heading to the Alps I'll see you on the north downs.
  • Andrew obviously I can't publish a breakdown of the costs but I am happy to share all of the details with you, as I mention this is a not for profit organisation. Henk gives any profit he makes back to charity and whilst we haven't committed to that yet I would hope that we are in a position to do the same come September.

    The costs are worked out based on the outgoings we expect to incur. The major differences between the SDW, CCER, GUCR and NDW100, hence the additional costs are: Start finish venue with toilets/ indoor space, having 8 fully stocked aid stations for which you need to acquire chairs, tables, shelter, aid station fare, at least 2 generators for the far point 50 mile aid station, minibus hire to transport runners, van/car hire, petrol costs, t shirts/ bib numbers/ race medals and belt buckles for 100m finishers. We are also marking the course which costs money and time and providing race medic on hand at all times. I am talking to St Johns A. also to try to attain some support at other aid stations. Henk believes we would be lucky to get 50 runners total across all three distances in the first year. If we get 50 runners at the entry costs I've set at 15 x 100, 15 x 50, 20 x 26.2 I will make a loss of over £2000. To reach break even I need to bring in 100 runners across all distances with a weighting of 35 marathon, 35 x 50 mile and 30 x 100 mile.

    Henk has 2 aid stations and no venue hire/ transport costs and does not give out medals or buckles at the finish. Again I am not criticising that, I love CCER although the 100 about killed me this year. Jen does not mark the course and does not provide medical support, I'm not sure what the finishers awards are. Dick has so much demand for his race (among the many that he organises) and has many years of budgeting. If someone could say to me now 'you will have 200 runners come August 13th split x, y and z' then I would be able to give runners an entry fee based on the exact costs of the race. Obviously that isn't possible so I have spent hours deliberating over where to price the race in order for us (me personally) not make a huge loss. I can handle a small deficit but for all the work that this takes to come out of it with a huge dent in my bank account would be rather upsetting. I am really hopeful I will be able to reduce entry costs from year 2 onwards as we will then own a lot of the equipment and be able to re-use it. For all of the above Henk, Jen and I are talking about sharing resources across the SDW, CCER race and mine in order to help ease the burden in year 1.

    I would hope that the additional costs that I have decided to incur make this a race worth running. I did expect a few raised eyebrows at the price but I'm happy to be as open an honest as possible with it. If people have an issue with price then that will be reflected in the number that sign up, the race will not break even and it will be a one off which I think would be a shame. I would like to roll out the 100 mile trail race and give UK runners including myself the opportunity of racing 100 miles over some of the UKs finest trails. I would love for someone else to put on 100 mile trail races but obviously it is a massive undertaking and somewheat risky business.

    Dill thanks I thought I was pretty close to the mark with the set up and race style. I guess time will tell whether we can survive or not. If we do get to a second year I will take a lot of the points into account as learnings but will not change the overall style as I believe this race does a lot of things that others currently don't and we are missing out in the UK on the 100 mile trail scene.

    Lirish best of luck at CCC. Hope you get a spot but of course we'd be delighted to see you on the NDW if not!
  • Good answer.

  • So basically you looked at what you thought you might need for the race added it all up and decided to make the entrants pay for it all?

    What ever happened to the enthusiast doing an event for the love of the sport. If you actually thought about it properly you could put the race on, on a shoestring. That way it would be more popular and if it really was a good race it would grow and become a permanent fixture in the future. This is what Dick and Henk have done. Despite your reasons against comparing their races with your planned one, they were in your position once and have made it work. It takes a lot of personal time and effort and yes, there is the threat of financial loss but that is part of the whole thing. To me it makes the difference between someone who is genuinely dedicated to putting an ultra on the calender and someone who wants to dabble and see how it goes.

  • Andrew if you don't like what James is trying to do don't enter, simple as that. He's explained far more than I'd be prepared to do in the circumstances and he's still getting slagged off. I don't know you from Adam so you could in fact be the MdS race director so why don't you tell us how cheaply you organised your last 100 miler?
  • I really didn't want to get drawn into this kind of open invasion into the set up of the race, this thread was put on here purely to make people aware of its existence in the hopes that it would appeal to runners out there, like me and to a good few people on here, thank you.

    I won't carry on with the Q&A on costs beyond answering your comment above Andrew, Lirish is right if you don't like it don't enter. This is supposed to be for people who are interested in the race and ultra running.

    'So basically you looked at what you thought you might need for the race added it all up and decided to make the entrants pay for it all?' Yes. I am not a bank. I cannot afford to lose thousands of pounds putting a race on out of my own good nature. That is a ridiculous comment.

    'What ever happened to the enthusiast doing an event for the love of the sport'. That is precisely, as I explained, what I am trying to do.

    'If you actually thought about it properly you could put the race on, on a shoestring.' Yes, you could but then it would be an LDWA organised event and not a properly equipped, safe and comprehensive race. LDWA events are not races and are lacking a lot of the infrastructure we are providing. Not a criticism, just a fact. If you prefer that do LDWA events instead.

    'Despite your reasons against comparing their races with your planned one, they were in your position once and have made it work.' I explained above why the costs of putting on an event like Henks or Dicks is much less than what I am proposing here.

    'It takes a lot of personal time and effort and yes, there is the threat of financial loss but that is part of the whole thing. To me it makes the difference between someone who is genuinely dedicated to putting an ultra on the calender and someone who wants to dabble and see how it goes.' There is an acceptable level of risk and then there is financial suicide. If you are in a position to back a race which costs thousands of pounds to put on (Henks and Dicks costs thousands to put on too remember) and risk losing a fortune then good for you. I am not. As I explained above if we can bring the costs down in future, the entry fees will drop too. £100 for 100 mile fully supported trail run is not IMHO an outrageous amount of money given what is on offer.

    I will probably start a new thread for the race in due course as I feel this one has gone very off subject from its starting intention. Very disappointing from my respect.

  • James for what it's worth I think you've shown openess and patience far beyond expectation, best of luck with the race and if I don't get a CCC place I'll see you in August.
  • James - I am sorry if my comments have set off what may appear as a lot of unnecessary attacks on you. This was not my intention at all. As I said at the start, I admire your efforts and the care that you are showing for other runners. Plus it will be great to have 100m event in the UK especially as entry for UTMB is such a pallaver (and they mark that one with glow sticks!!). We need more long runs in the UK.

    I guess the reason, I made my initial comments was the fact that I have become sick of the NDW being littered with race debris - a trend which seems to be continuing. As always, these debates are all about achieving a balance - I guess I come from the idea that marking NT land (eg the Lakes) or official and well mapped long distance footpaths like the NDW is not a great idea. If people really struggle, they can always get a GPS with the NDW already loaded.

    Anyway, I really hope that this thread will return to use by people who want to what should be a great race. Interesting that on the Tanners today, there was evidence of old paint markers on sections around Box Hill from past races but only I gel wrapper.

    I heard some of your friends talking about you injury while we were running -sorry to hear that and get well soon.

    Again apologies that this got sidetracked.

  • James - I wish you the very best of luck with your race this year.

    As a comparison price wise I did the Jurassic Coast Challenge, 78miles, in 2010 and it cost £150. I was happy to pay this - as some people have mentioned already about supported events - I did not have to provide my own support crew on the JCC and we were very well provided throughout with food and support, first aid and transport.

    This year I looked at entering the devil of the Highlands race, on the West Highland Way, I have walked it many times but fancied the challenge of running it with a time limit. Very cheap entry but you have to provide not only your own support crew / vehicle, but another runner who can go out and find you if you are injured or lost. This is all very well, but to me is over complicating matters. If I was running it alone, then yes fair enough, I would do all this and ensure my own safety by having a driver to meet me at specified points (but I wouldnt bother with the extra runner bit tbh, I know the route like the back of my hand), but as part of an organised event, I expect a bit more, otherwise, whats the point of doing an 'organised' event, just do it yourself image..............

    Anyhow, 100m is a bit beyond my personal ability at the moment, but I look forward to aiming for one in the future, and I hope your event is successful image.

  • Thanks TH glad you had a good day on the trails it must have been close to perfect out there today. Injury is getting there now more physio this week.

    Hi Tigerspaw, I ran JCC in 2010 too and man that was tough. I'm sure if you can tackle that race you are not too far from having a crack at a 100, believe me the difference isn't as great as you'd think.
  • Anyone know why there are orange sprayed frog like symbols all around Guildford area footpaths?  The're not just on the NDW. Thanks Ken

  • James - thanks for the positive encouragement, 100 is something I have in my sights for the future image.

    Cragchick - that was me talking about the Devil......I've entered the Fling instead as they have a drop bag system and checkpoints, and it just seems so much less hassle than the Devil image. I could probably just about get a pal to assist for the driving part of the Devil, but I agree the extra runner bit is really too far, and its a big ask of friends to guarantee they will be free for a weekend in August almost 10 months in advance. Personally I get the impression the Devil is a wee bit cliquey, whereas the Fling is open to all to have an attempt.

  • Hi Cragchick

    The WHW route is very well signposted and fairly straightforward to follow on the Fling section. I always read of people taking wrong turns in Mugdock Wood (near the start) but its beyond me how people manage that, as its the easiest part of the route! (I think folks see lots of signage for Mugdock Car Park and cafe and get side-tracked by the thought of a roll and square sausage image).

    The Harveys West Highland Way map is well worth a purchase (Amazon have it), its lightweight and waterproof, with the whole route in strips (saves carrying a whole load of OS maps if you are doing the whole thing).

    Worth doing would be Drymen to Balmaha over Conic Hill. This takes you through a nice wood and up over Conic for some great views and hill climbing practice, then back along the road to Drymen, or meet your transport in Balmaha (quite a nice scenic place to take young kids, ducks to feed and lots of boats to look at on the Loch image). Or continue on to Rowardennan and get your hubby to collect you here.

    Beyond Rowardennan you get into out-and-back territory as there is no easy accesible road until the route comes out at the northern end of Loch Lomond (quite a large drive if you were to get dropped at R and picked up say near Crianlarich).

    I recently attempted from the start at Milngavie to Balmaha, 20miles, but ended up coming down from Conic early as it was getting dark, and got a pre-arranged pick up on the Balmaha road, so ended up doing 17.5m. When the dark came down it went from dusk to pitch black in about 10mins, so just be aware of the times you're out image.

  • James,
    I think the race sounds awesome! Ultra races ARE expensive these days (especially if you look at the multi stage races!). To be honest - I am willing to pay any amount of money to enter a race - If I like the sound of it - I will enter - regardless of price. Its fair to say that I dont have any real 'financial responsibilities' and am fortunate enough to be able to afford these races.
    Im registered for the CCC this year and hence your race is a little too close to the 26 Aug but if I dont get a place on the CCC, I will defo be considering it!

    Thanks for taking the initiative to organise a new race for us!
  • Route profile now uploaded for both the NDW100 and NDW50. 10,400 feet of climb for the 100, 5,700 feet for the 50. Tough but not too tough image

  • Think you are definitely courageous setting up a new event, but sounds like a great plan for it.

     Just wondering if I have enough time to train for the 100 mile event if I start on a proper training plan now as I have never completed one before.  I did L2B (56 miles) with 4 and a half months training in 12 .5 hours from a similar fitness position last year (i can run 12 miles at around 8:30 pace - 17 at 9 min miling)   Anyone reckon it's possible?

     If not, I'd be happy to enter the 50 mile race as it sounds like a great day's run.

    Does anyone have any favourite training routes on the trails which are easily accessible from Clapham Junction in London (either by car or by train) as I live locally and struggled last year to find off-road routes without entering races?

     All advice appreciated!

  • James - despite my earlier comments, the hard work displayed already is making me tempted!! Ran from Cranmore School up to NDW and then followed to Puttenham before turning off toward where I live and really enjoyed the run (this was only about 13-14 miles!). I guess St Martha's will be fun on the return journey!! I will see after Punchbowl and Steyner Stingers how my legs feel...not sure about 2x 100 mile events in the same year though!!

    AR - from Clapham its easy to get to Guildford and join the NDW both ways. You can do plenty of circuits off this main route to avoid out and back. Get off at Station and run south by River Wey for about 1 mile to obvious walkers bridge - this is the NDW, then a bit of suburban running for 1 mile and then you are off into the countryside with some nice hills on the Chantries/St Martha's and Newlands Corner. As part of your training you can easily just keep adding distance each time along the NDW.
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