Trial run for Lewes’ new marathon idea

Testing time for the Moyleman: Participants speed downhill towards Housedean Farm on the South Downs Way
Testing time for the Moyleman: Participants speed downhill towards Housedean Farm on the South Downs Way

A dozen runners have just trialled a gruelling but beautiful 26.2-mile course over the hills around Lewes in what could become a new marathon event for the town.

The run started behind Lewes Prison and took an anti-clockwise loop around the South Downs taking in Black Cap, Kingston Ridge, Firle Beacon and Mount Caburn, before finishing in Cliffe High Street by The John Harvey Tavern.

Ashley Head, Duncan Rawson and Rob Read started plotting the idea over a pint or two of Harveys last summer, shortly after Duncan had completed a demanding 28-mile cycle route over these hills.

Ash said: “We think it’s pretty unique for a marathon in that you can see the whole route from at least five different high points around the course, all centred on the town of Lewes. It’s an inspiring and challenging view to face!”

The runners who trialled the event in unseasonably hot conditions in mid-March were full of praise for the course. As Brook Barbieri said: “It’s pretty much the sum of all my favourite long runs around Lewes! It has some beautiful views and challenging hills.” The leading runner, Colin Bennett, came home in 3 hours 50 minutes.

The organisers are now looking to put in place all the measures – including sponsorship, agreements with the local council, and involvement of local athletics clubs - so it can take its place in the range of official distance runs in Sussex for 2015.

Ash said: “Given the demands of the course, this is more like a fell run than a road race, so this won’t be a mass participation event. But we hope it will be a great addition to the town, and its popular sporting culture already embodied in groups like Lewes Athletic Club and Lewes Football Club.”

The run will be known as the ‘Moyleman’ in honour of Chris Moyle who died in 2009 at the age of 42. He was a well-loved part of the local running community and a veteran of numerous marathons.

He inspired Ash and other local runners to rise to the challenge of hill running. Chris’s parents and sister were at the start of the trial to see the runners off.

A small team of marshals around the course organised by Seaford Strider, Tom Roper, helped the trial run to take place safely, but the organisers will need a large group of volunteers and helpers in place come March 2015.

Anyone interested in getting involved can find out more information at facebook.com/moyleman