The inaugural Devil’s Challenge took place on the 29th April to 1st May, across 97 miles of the South Downs Way. Broken into 3 stages, the competitor with the lowest accumulated over the 3 days would win.
The South Downs Way runs from Winchester in Hampshire, through to Eastbourne in East Sussex, covering 100 miles and 4,150 meters of ascent. Part of a group of 15 National Trails throughout England and Wales, it is one of the few possible to ride a bike or horse the complete duration.
Following a dry winter, the flint and chalk paths were baked, providing a pavement in many areas, rather than a forgiving trail. Those who brought aggressive trail shoes quickly regretted their decision and searched through their bags at over stops for alternatives. The hills rolled, providing a slow grinding down of leg strength. When combined with the firmness underfoot, it made the furious pace at the front of the pack that bit harder.
Although Day 1 begun overcast and cool, the cover soon burnt off, revealing deep blue sky, with the first real heat of the year piercing through. Day 2 saw a cloud covered canopy, with increasing winds throughout. In the later stages, waves of spring showers poured down over competitors, making descents greasy. Day 3 was wet and windy. With the moving front having firmly taken grip, waterproofs were donned through to the cliffs of Beachy Head, where the sun made a last ditch effort to revitalise runners before the short run into Eastbourne and the finish.
Though stages claimed some runners, as for many this was their first multi day ultra or hardest race to date, the main party finished in the grounds of a perp school to a warm welcome from XRNG’s team of volunteers. With no cuts offs, the Devil’s Challenge was for everyone and provided an opportunity for people to dip their toe in and experience a multi day ultra experience.
Results for the top 3 finishers and photo gallery can be seen below.
Day 3Overall Winner Anna-Marie Watson