South Downs stunner!


by live for the outdoors |

Brighton Trail Weekend’s race organiser tells us what to expect on June 26

Advertorial feature with The Grounded Events Company

If you picked up the last issue of Trail Running, you may have spotted that a brand-new event takes place this June in the stunning South Downs National Park, brought to you by the organisers of Brighton Marathon Weekend. Together with experienced, local trail runners and South Downs National Park, Grounded Events have crafted a weekend of trail running in the beautiful Sussex countryside. Offering a marathon, 10k and youth event, all levels of runner will be able to experience trail running in the stunning settings of Brighton’s  Stanmer Park Estate and South  Downs National Park.  We talked to Event Director Tom Naylor to find out a bit more about the launch and to explore his inspiration for this new event.

TR: Why did you decide to move into trail events?

TN: We had long wanted to bring some of our experience and insight from mass participation road events to the trail running events scene, utilising the incredible countryside that surrounds Brighton and Hove.  I grew up running in the Downs and have always been surprised when people say they do all their running on the seafront or in the parks.  It made sense to us that, at a time when trail running is growing hugely in popularity due to the benefits it brings not just physically but mentally, to explore what we could do to get more people running off-road and out into the beautiful South Downs National Park, right on our doorstep.  We hope that the routes we’ve designed will be challenging enough for all runners, even the hardened ultra-runners, but also be a great introduction for traditional road runners to all the best bits of trail running.

TR: How are you hoping to do that?

TN: A key focus for us, and what we are striving to say to road runners, is that you can come and do this marathon or 10k even if you have no trail running experience.  Running on trails isn’t as scary or inaccessible as people think. For Brighton Marathon we have over 2500 people working on event day, and we plan to bring that type of resource to this event, ensuring the course is really well marshalled, with aid stations throughout, ensuring runners are supported and won’t get lost. We also hope to be able to bring some of our experience of putting event infrastructure in place, to develop the runner experience. This includes plans to close the road up Ditchling Beacon and have a fan park/cheer station at the top so runners can be cheered all the way to the top of the hardest climb.  We also want to build an Event Village at the finish allowing friends and family to enjoy the event and be there to support every finisher.

TR: How will Brighton Trail Weekend differ to other trail events?

TN: I don’t know if this makes us different to other events, but we are working to create an experience that delivers some of that big box event feel (like a major road marathon), offering family-friendly Start and Event Villages, cheer zones, live photography, live bands, a great atmosphere and efficient route support whilst not taking away from the tranquillity and escapism that is a part of trail running. We are also working very hard to give something back, by donating £1 from every race entry to National Trails to help maintain The South Downs and its off-road routes. The finisher medals will also be made from trees felled within Stanmer Park, as opposed to a wooden medal bought from outside the local area.

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