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Ridgeway Challenge 86 Miles

21-Aug-2021 Ivinghoe Beacon, Buckinghamshire, UK (England)


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Trail Race Race Terrain
138KM / 86Miles
2 Days - 130 Runners

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Advanced  

Entry From £88 GBP

The Ridgeway Challenge 86 Miles 

The Ridgeway Challenge through-the-night running event is 86 miles along a 5000 year old trackway through the Chiltern Hills and North Wessex Downs (along Grim's Ditch for several miles); Barbury Castle and Liddington Castle (hill forts) en route.

The way is marked throughout; 9,000 feet of ascent; most check points managed by local running clubs.

To qualify you must have completed at least a 30 mile ultra (24 hour events etc are fine) since January 2019 (nineteen).  Strava screen shots are permitted, similar apps too.

Current Course Records

M: 2015 Dan Lawson 12h 07m
F: 2017 Sarah Burns-Morwood 14h 00m

See ridgewaychallenge.com for online entry

Entries up to 31st May 2020 (Early-bird discount)

Entries between 1st June 2020 to 14th August 2020 (Standard price)

*Affiliated members are either members of the TRA or registered with UK Athletics. This entry fee includes the £2 reduction from the entry fee in accordance with the UK Athletics Rules.

There are two start times:

  • 10:00 for runners expecting to take more than 24 hours. Maximum time allowed is 28 hours.
  • 12:00 for runners wanting to compete in the British Trail Running Championships Ultra Distance. Max time allowed is 26 hours

Medals are £5 at the finish.  Medals are re-useable, every runners receives a ribbon.

The Race Director for 2021 is Tim Mitchell for the TRA.

Race Permit from the Trail Running Association is published when known.


Event Organiser
Tim Mitchell



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 Ridgeway Challenge 86 Miles

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07:11 18-09-18

What a fabulous event. The aid stations, staffed by local running clubs were just amazing and it’s fantastic to have people ready to help and know what is needed. Tim the RD is fab and gave a great briefing. The route is epic although it’s a bit mind blowing when you have just done over a marathon and then ‘just’ have Race To The Stones to go. Half way is excellently organised and the finish was an amazing atmosphere too. Feed me up nicely now for a 100miler

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Josephine Adams

12:31 27-08-18

This race is fantastically organised with a real 'above and beyond' atmosphere created by organiser and helpers. The checkpoints were all extremely efficiently run by lovely people. Plenty of helpers around giving a proper one-on-one service at all checkpoints, especially the halfway stop (waiter table service with hot food - what next!?). The food was all great with a good mixture on offer, catering to all diets - the best I've experienced at a race yet. All in all, fantastically supported but still low-key and personal event which made running the length of the Ridgeway pure joy! (?)

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01:38 29-08-17

Sent from my iPhone

On 29 Aug 2017, at 11:29, Sarah Cooke <[email protected]> wrote:

Sent from my iPhone

I ran this in 2017 having completed my second 100 miler 11 weeks beforehand. On both my 100 milers I struggled with the lack of sleep. I was able to run strong for around 75 miles and then found it difficult to do anything better than a confused stagger for the remainder of the race even though my muscles themselves felt ok. I was hopeful that if I could run well for 75 miles in this race then knowing I only had 11 to go would make the death march less soul destroying than a 25 mile one. What I hadn't really factored in when I entered was that the Ridgeway Challenge starts much later in the day. Slower runners start at 10:00 and faster runners who want to be eligible for prizes and the Trail Running Championships start at 12:00. I knew I wouldn't be in the running for a podium spot, so thankfully I opted for the earlier start. This was still 4 hours later than my 100 milers. The benefit of this was being able to travel on the day and not pay for accommodation, but it did mean fatigue hit me earlier in the race. This is not in any way a criticism of the race itself - running through the night is a deliberate feature of the event and part of the challenge. However, it is something I would advise people to take into consideration in their preparation. I ran well for the first 100k and then had a tough 24 miles which involved very little running. Some people seem to be able to cope without sleep and keep a consistent pace. My body just stops connecting with my brain. Nothing was hurting, I simply could not move any faster.

In terms of the specifics of the race itself and the route, I had a very positive experience. It covers the whole of the Ridgeway which makes it longer than Race to the Stones and it is also much smaller and less commercial. This made it much more appealing to me and the first section of the route was my favourite and is also the bit not on the RTTS route. The two different start times make the race seem even smaller and I ran a lot of miles without being able to see other runners. This wasn't a problem for me as I am happy going solo and navigation was straightforward. When I did see other runners, they were as friendly as I have come to expect in an ultra and the faster runners were always encouraging when they caught up and overtook the earlier starters. The checkpoints were well-stocked with plenty of options. They are run by local running clubs and some used the very active race Facebook group to take food requests prior to the race which was lovely. This is a very good value event - minibuses are provided from Tring station to the start and from the finish to Swindon station and to a leisure centre with showers. The race also ferries people to and from local hotels - you just email a request with you hotel details and it is sorted for you. The race photos are also free to download. Everything was well-organised and yet retained the feel of a small and personal event.

I had run the first few miles of the route before and I definitely preferred the first half of the trail. It felt more undulating, which I like, and there was plenty of variety with open farmland, downs and woodland trails. I found the second half less varied. It seemed flatter and was mostly a continuous straight line. However, that did mean that the night section was easier to navigate. The Ridgeway is waymarked and I had the route on my watch, but it is easy to miss turnings when you're tired and this was one less thing to worry about. My favourite moment of the whole race was sunset. It was spectacular and I was completely alone on a trail with a good view. The orange light hitting the trees and bushes on either side of the trail was really special.

This race would be a good choice for anyone stepping up from 50 milers as it is well supported. The terrain is mostly runnable rather than technical although there are plenty of trip hazards in the woods and the ground is very uneven in the later stages. It would suit both faster and slower runners - it is a route that would lend itself to a decent pace and it hosts the Trail Running Championships but it also has generous cut-offs to allow runners of all abilities a good chance of finishing. My only negative is the start time, but that is just a personal preference and I would definitely recommend the race.

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06:32 01-09-15

As per the other race reviews this is a race I would definitely recommend. It was a low key event very little razzmatazz but that did not mean the race organisation was compromised in any way. The atmosphere at the checkpoints was great, lots of moral support and well stocked tables. I loved the effort the running clubs had gone to to make the check points look fun at night, lots of glow sticks and fairy lights. The trail was indeed varied but beautiful when you had the time to look around! We were blessed with a stunning sunset. The ridgeway is a very well signposted trail and the organisers added very few of their own markers, this wasn't a problem at all with the exception of the last 4/5 km when I would have liked to have seen a count down to encourage tired limbs over the line. The medals are great as are the T shirts - I will definitely do this race again.

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12:16 01-09-15

This was my first ultra marathon and what an event. I would 100% recommend this to anyone looking to run an ultra marathon. The organisation was second to none, Tim the race director was brilliant and answered all my questions or worries that I had and the support at the check points was absolutely amazing. Considering how much support there was and all the food and drinks that were provided at every single checkpoint, the cost of doing this event was excellent value for money. It really felt like the organisers were more interested in helping the runners to complete the challenge rather than making as much money out of you as possible. You don't even have to pay for your finishers photo and you also great a lovely t shirt and a superb medal to mark your achievement. The route itself was beautiful but definitely unforgiving under foot as it was very stony, a hard terrain but if you have the right shoes & socks and change at least half way then you'll be fine.
I will definitely be doing this event again and there is nothing that I could or would want to change about it. Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!

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09:51 01-09-15

This was the second time I've run this event, having completed in 2010 in 21 hours. After a good summer of training I felt good for a strong race. This somewhat unravelled late in the first half.
Most start at 12.00 at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon. The National Trail is quite straightforward to follow but a map is needed as there are places that can confuse. Checkpoints are stocked well and manned by running clubs so very supportive. It is a hilly course so prepare for some enforced walk breaks if you need. The hot food from the halfway point includes the infamous hotdogs at 11pm at night which is awesome. This year for me, I appear to have been struck with a pretty ferocious stomach bug from mile 31. Sparing readers the gory details after being on schedule for 18/19 hours I spent the best part of 2 hours behind hedges. I became very dehydrated and had to call it a day at the half way checkpoint at Goring. Clearly this was unexpected but so quickly did I become empty and unable to keep any fluids in and not eating that it would have been dangerous to carry on and a potential burden for the race organisers if I had got in trouble out on the Wessex downs in the night. Gutted but a sensible decision and will be back next year to quash those demons.

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09:48 01-09-15

August 2015
A great event with brilliant organisation. Really friendly, low key race - great value for money! A great course with a mix of trail through woodlands and chalk trails. Stunning scenery and challenging climbs.
I would recommend this event to anyone stepping their ultra distances!

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11:31 03-03-15

Course: scenic rolling hills, picturesque woods and countryside aplenty
Organisation: low key but very well organised
Aid stations: run by local running clubs and full of enthusiastic volunteers. Hot dogs were my favourite treat
Distance: the perfect stepping stone from 50 to 100 mile racing
Overall: Tough but thoroughly enjoyable race

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