First Lewes Marathon attracts 100 runners

Jonathan Burrell climbing Firle Beacon with Lewes and Mount Caburn in the Background. Photo by James McCauley
Jonathan Burrell climbing Firle Beacon with Lewes and Mount Caburn in the Background. Photo by James McCauley
  • Challenging off road course could become fixture on hill running circuit
  • Race generated interest from around the UK and overseas

The first ever marathon in Lewes was a success, attracting nearly 100 runners to compete on this tough downland course.

They battled through 3,000 feet of climbing over 26 miles of trails around the South Downs on Sunday March 15.

And they're off. The runners leave Landport Bottom in Lewes for the Lewes Marathon

And they're off. The runners leave Landport Bottom in Lewes for the Lewes Marathon

It has already attracted interest from runners around the UK and overseas, with organisers hoping it will become a fixture on the hill running circuit.

Race director Ashley Head, who led the organising team of six, said: “We are so proud of all our fabulous runners, marshals and volunteers.

“Today was a very special day for all of us. We are especially grateful to the selfless volunteers who gave up their Sunday to make the race a great success.

“A very special thank you to Harveys, River Clinic and Circa - their generosity and engagement added to the unique spirit of the event.

“This is a tough race, it’s not going to be a mass event for fun runners.

“But we hope we can show all runners the fantastic spirit of the people here, the beautiful downland countryside and the best of Lewes in years to come.”

The race began at Landport Bottom and continued over Black Cap, Kingston Ridge and Firle Beacon, with a final punishing climb over Mount Caburn, before finishing at Harveys Yard in Lewes.

It was named the Moyleman Marathon in memory of Brighton runner Chris Moyle who died, aged 42, in 2009.

The weather on Sunday was cloudy and cool, but without rain, and conditions were close to ideal for trail running, as runners followed the course marked out with distinctive purple Moyleman arrows.

The first across the line at Harveys Yard was Lewes AC runner Mike Ellicock in an impressive sub-three hour time of 2:59:46, setting a record that organisers think could prove hard to beat.

He was closely followed by Lewes AC member Chris Gilbert, who clocked 3 hours and 3 seconds, in his first marathon.

The leading woman out of 30 taking part was Julia Lewis in 4:04:47.

A halfway point at Southease also allowed a relay to be run with a dozen pairs of runners completing half-marathons.

The first pair home were Mark Halls and Zared Hale in a combined time of 3 hours and 11 seconds.

At the finishing line all runners were rewarded with a pint of Harveys and a medal.

Harveys allowed the use of its yard and donated beer to support the event.

Free massages were provided by the River Clinic in Lewes and free burgers and food were provided by Circa Events.

The organisers also received support from Lewes District Council and from farmer Phillip Pile, who allowed access for the event through private land to give the runners a safe route under the A27 at Firle.

Having held a small trial event in 2014 before this first official 2015 run, the organisers are hoping in 2016 they can allow more entries, with a date of March 13, 2016, now pencilled into the calendar.