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North Downs Way 50

18-May-2019 St. Polycarps Primary School, Farnham, UK (England)


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Trail Race Race Terrain
80KM / 50Miles
1 Day - 250 Runners

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Advanced  

This 50-mile race runs along the entire North Downs Way National Trail in England. It runs from Farnham (Surrey) to Knockholt Pound (Greater London) Eastbourne and is fully supported by 6 aid stations, medical support and course markings. The markings combine North Downs Way marker posts (National Trails) and markings placed by the organization when deviating from the path.

The 300 places require a minimum qualification standard: having finished a marathon race within the cut off time required during the period of time established by the organisers for each NDW50 edition.

The time limit is 13 hours and partial cut offs are in place at each aid station. All 6 aid stations include drinks, sweet and savoury snacks. Hot drinks and food will be available at the finish line.

Drop bags and pacers are not permitted but crews are. There is a compulsory kit requirement and checks will be carried out before, during and after the race.

This race awards points for UTMB.

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Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.


Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.


Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.


Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.


Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Type: An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for: Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Global - Virtual

Type: A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for: For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Review North Downs Way 50

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09:03 11-06-18

Ran this race this year (2018) as my first ever ultra. I have volunteered with Centurion a couple of times before to get a feel for ultras and have to say they run a slick operation. The course is tough so maybe not ideal for a first ultra but the support from the Centurion Crew and amazing volunteers was second to none and certainly got me though. I wanted to complete the course in under 10 hours but paced myself with little margin for error and came through in 10 hours 1 min and 40ish seconds! Unbelievable! I'll leave that demon out on the course for now - but I will be back =)

Amazing views and terrain.. If you are unsure on whether to sign up... just do it =)

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07:27 22-05-17

I ran this in 2017 as the second race of the Centurion 50 mile grandslam. I had completed the route as the first half of the NDW100 last year and was also familiar with the area from running the Pilgrims Challenge and Winter Tanners. I love the North Downs but my sleep-deprived memories of the latter stages of the 100 miler had probably made me forget how much I like running there. I was very glad I had entered the 50 to remind me of why I should get down there more often.

I enjoyed the SDW50 in April, but now that I've done both, I definitely prefer the North Downs. The ground is softer underfoot and a large proportion of the route is woodland trails. This makes it much less exposed and cooler than the South Downs. I love woodland running and this definitely didn't disappoint. The route has a good amount of elevation but is also quite runnable. It's challenging but not especially technical so would be a good first 50 miler if you are used to hills.

As with all Centurion events, the organisation is fantastic and the route is marked. The volunteers are lovely people and the checkpoints are well-stocked. As stated in my review of SDW50, the addition of Tailwind to checkpoints is very welcome. However, there were several checkpoints only offering the caffeinated version during this race. Not everyone wants to be drinking caffeine all the way through a race, so this is one minor point for Centurion to consider in future. It also looked like they might have been running low at one checkpoint - hopefully they are getting to grips with demand and will be well-stocked in future races. I did get all that I needed and it is much easier than mixing your own on the go.

In summary, this race is typical of Centurion's slick operation. It has a friendly feel and is one of the nicest places to run in the south of England. Highly recommended.

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06:38 19-05-17

Ran NDW50 again after I chose this as my 1st 50 Mile event last year. Great route, views , organisation, volunteers, Pom Pom girl, bacon barge, friendly cast of other runners, all wrapped under Centurions super slick organisation. Better than SDW50 ? Find out my views here:- http://runlongalways.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/the-downs-double-50-part-ii.html

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09:50 24-03-17

Ran this in 2013 as my first ultra. As with all the Centurion events: great people, positive vibe, well marked course. Nice to have a shuttle available from finish to start even if it is at a little extra cost.

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11:18 30-05-16

This was my first ultra and I found it hugely enjoyable.
Centurion did an excellent job. I was treating blisters throughout the race and the helpers at the aid stations, particularly close to the finish went out of their way to help me. I have written a blog about my experience here: http://whippetman.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/from-5k-to-50-miles-running-my-first.html

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11:53 28-05-16

I don't think you can fault the Centruion family for event running, from race registration through to the finish line it's a well run machine with an outstanding team of volunteers.

Excellent aid stations with well stocked food and drinks and a course well and truly marked out so navigation isn't an issue.

I hadn't run the NDW before and for me I prefer this route over the SDW. It's a little bit more technical than the SDW with a changeable course running through woods, vineyards and the Surrey & Kent hills. Once you're on top of those hills the views are truly stunning.

Farnham to Boxhill (24miles) is undulating but don't go off too fast as from Boxhill to Botley Hill you've got the majority of elevation gain to take on.

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02:06 27-05-16

Ran this ultra for the first time a few weeks ago - best ultra (and possibly race) I've done. As all the reviewers say - incredible organisation, really friendly volunteers, fab food stations (including the infamous bacon barge at mile 10), a stunningly beautiful course - all together an absolute must do for anyone looking to venture into the world of ultrarunning. The 50 miles are 90% trails - intitially undulating, then pretty hilly but the views, comraderie and hot dogs at the end make up for any discomfort during the race. I'm already looking forward to next year.

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11:18 27-05-16

I have run this race in 2014 and 2016. This time around it was as part of the inaugural Centurion 50 Mile Grand Slam. NDW50 is the second race of the series with two more to come later in the year.

Centurion as an ultra running events company absolutely nail it every time. Their willingness to take on-board feedback from runners and volunteers and apply it to future events means that Centurion races are second to none. The communication, organisation, choice of routes, checkpoints, medals / buckles and most importantly community are a joy to be a part of. This is reflected in the increasing numbers seen wearing Centurion clothing outside of race day. People are proud to be a part of the community.

Back to NDW50 specifically. I won't wang on about organisation, registration and all that admin type stuff because as I mentioned it's pretty consistent with Centurion. What is handy to know about this race is that it's a tricky one to pace. It has almost the same elevation as SDW50 but where the South Downs is rolling throughout, NDW50 has almost all of the elevation in the final 25 miles. With the exception of St. Martha's Hill at about 10 miles the first half is relatively flat. This can prove tricky as it's tempting to make hay while the sun shines and go off like a rocket. The danger here is you'll be feeling it by the time you get to Box Hill at 24 miles. It's certainly a race of two halves so remember to pace yourself properly!

That's really the only insider's tip I can offer for this race. Top quality and a beautiful part of the country. The 5 star reviews right across the board says it all!

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09:21 26-05-16

This was my 2nd running of the NDW50. Having done the SDW50 earlier on this year, I fancied the 'Downs Double' so set off with a hope of getting sub 11 hours on the North Downs. The day was perfect for running, not a cloud in the sky. In my opinion, the NDW50 is a run of 2 halves. The 1st is relatively flat until you get to Box Hill. Its tempting to 'go for it' over the 1st 24 miles (which I have to admit I did!), then cling on for the 2nd half - which has a few short sharp hills - which break up your rhythm. A scenic run with lots of support from the Centurion crew. The aid stations are fab and the race is run like clockwork. A great 50 milers for those wanting to step up from marathon distance. Would I run it a 3rd time? I wouldn't bet against it ! The pain of Box Hill & Reigate Hill soon subside !! Plus I beat my goal of sub 11 and almost got sub 10 ! I ran this race in 2014 & 2016.

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08:25 26-05-16

Another great centurion event. Did this race 2 years ago as my first Ultra so wanted to give it another bash. Having done the Sdw50 in April I was ready to give this a go and beat my time 2 years ago. As like 2 years ago the Centurian Crew even manage to make the weather perfect for this race. Dry and hot. Always welcoming at registration we all set of for this journey. As warned by James the first half is a fast and not to hilly section and the tempt ion to bag a lot of time is far to tempting. Great scenery and kind hills are what you get. Then the famous BoxHill and Reigate Hill appear at the half way point. The second half is where that bagged time comes in handy. Still with stunning views you have 25miles left with the hills being speed bumps. Cheered on by the now Famous Centurian Crew you get dragged along to the finish where again your welcomed with open arms by everyone. Cant recommend this race enough. Stunning scenery, fantasticly marked and FANTASTIC support from the organisers and volunteers. (Always beat my last time by 1hr13mins)

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