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SBU St Begas Ultra

27-May-2018 Lake District, Cumbria, UK (England)


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Trail Race Race Terrain
58KM / 36Miles
1 Day - 200 Runners

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Beginner  

Entry From £65 GBP


SBU - St Begas Ultra, Trail Race
Designed for new ultra-runners, loved by all... 

Latest News - It's time for the annual SBU35 friends recce. So if you're interested in taking part in the event itself, or just fancy coming out for a 'free' run with some new friends then give it a look. https://www.facebook.com/events/528998870557687/?active_tab=discussion

The SBU is now entering its 5th year and is riding high on another wave of tremendous feedback from the 2016 event.

Whether you’re new to ultra-running, an old hand, or a long distance walker - completing the SBU is an experience you’ll look back on for many years to come. We’ve a fantastic mix of terrain, on a largely off-road route, that combines varied and spectacular scenery. There’s a good mix of relaxed and technical sections, with a couple of significant challenges thrown in. Putting all this in one route and keeping navigation simple is one of reasons that the SBU35 has become so popular

Whilst still being a challenging route and distance, all aspects of this event have been carefully designed to support runners tackling their first ultra distance. With first-class medical support, checkpoints based in permanent buildings and our superb volunteer marshals and checkpoint staff, we’ll give you the support to get you through to the end, where you’ll receive the warmest finish line welcome you’re likely to experience. 

For those of you who are first-timers, we want the SBU35 to be your choice for your first ultra, to give you a true appreciation of what ultra-running is all about. The record number of new ultra-runners in 2016 (40 percent!) told us how great the rest of you experienced runners were, in giving your camaraderie, support, guidance and friendship when it really mattered. Thank-you, you are true ambassadors of the sport.

Encouraging people to push their limits, to run with friends old and new, in truly stunning surroundings and getting you safely to the finish line; that’s what we at UKanTrail, are about.

Taking you further...

PS. If you’re a serving, or ex-serving member, of any of the emergency or armed services, then we’ve a special challenge for you here

Route Summary

The SBU is an 'as tough as you want it', largely off-road 36 country* mile (approx.) ultra trail race. It’s suitable for all* runners and distance walkers who are willing to build their endurance to meet the demands of the event.

It follows a point-to-point route, from the heart of the Lake District to the West Coast and is based on the long distance walk, the St Begas’ Way. Runners follow the route of the legendary Irish princess, St Bega, travelling between two chapels, that both bear her name.

The Start is in the heart of the Lake District, overlooking Bass Lake near Keswick, and the Finish and race HQ is in the west coast village of St Bees, the start of Wainwright's coast to coast walk.

Between these two points, lay 36 ‘country’ miles of some of the most varied and beautiful country the Lake District has to offer.

Route Description.

Leg 1 - From the wooded shores of Bass lake, the route climbs on forest tracks and through a break in the trees, you’ll get your first glimpse of the route ahead, and the wall of fells you’ll traverse, towering over the open valley floor. Descending steeply through woods, you cross the valley floor to the shores of Derwentwater. The route then hugs the lake shore, through more low level woodland, before finally breaking off toward Borrowdale and Checkpoint 1.

Leg 2 - Heading South, through the 'Jaws' of Borrowdale. Ahead a momentous climb is revealed, that you must ascend. After a welcome flat section to pass through Honister Slate mine and the source of our Finish line medals, the route climbs again on one of the steepest sections of track you'll have ever seen. The character of the route changes then, as runners enter the remotest section of the journey. Heading out over open fell on rough tracks and then descending, stunningly, into the uppermost end, of the secluded Ennerdale valley. There are no roads here and the only vehicle you're likely to see in this truly remote valley, is the Black Sail Youth Hostel warden's Landrover. Midway down this valley you reach Checkpoint 2, the main fuelling stop for the runners.

Leg 3 – Reaching the shore of Ennerdale Water the route again hugs the lake along its full length. Then after tracking the length of this isolated and beautiful place, the route climbs steeply once more onto gentler fells, wherein the discrete, but not to be underestimated ‘Bummers’ hill resides. At the top of this punishing climb, you reach the summit of our local fell, Dent, giving runners their first view of the sea and the welcome flat land ahead. A steep grassy and fast descent from here brings you to the final route checkpoint - Checkpoint 3

Leg 4 – Leaving this checkpoint, the finish line is just a few short miles away at the end of the St Bees valley. Here, a warm, warm welcome, awaits every runner. First, or last to cross the line, each finisher has faced their own challenges, their own mix of highs and lows and each and every one of them, is greeted by the applause they deserve..

The SBU is a journey, in every sense...

General Event Details
Whilst we've set a very generous 12 hr cutoff time for the route, we've got two, stunningly fast course records, that'll challenge even top-flight runners. Fastest Male 5:12:31. Fastest Women 5:49:56. Last 2015 Finisher 12:31(we said generous!). Average 2015 Finisher 08:38

Navigation is required, but simple! The course is unmarked, but all runners receive a robust, detailed and very well-received road book, with both OS based maps and clear text. In-experienced navigators who took part last year, loved it! There will also be a full .gpx file of the route, to download.

All of our checkpoints are based in permanent buildings, with toilets and will be continuously staffed by marshals, qualified First Aiders and radio operators.

For Every runner:

  • Free meal at the finish line
  • Free coach travel to the start
  • Free pint of beer from our local, Ennerdale brewery. (This was a tremendous hit again last year and many a pint was supped after the event)
  • Our stunning road book, complete with mapping and turn-by-turn instructions
  • Access to qualified medical staff at each radio-linked checkpoint
  • A great mix of trail food, now featuring some local Cumbrian favourites (eg Cumberland sausage, Grasmere gingerbread)
  • GPS route mapping
  • Electronic timing
  • Tea and coffee at registration with option to register on Friday night
  • An equal chance to win one of, as many prizes that we can get our hands on again!

Restricted to finishers only (We feel that you value most, those things that you work hardest to achieve)

  • Our unique handmade finishers’ medal, taken from the very rock over which you’ll toil, on the highest part of the route (Honister Slate Mine). Individually selected, hand-worked and unique mementoes
  • A quality, race branded, date marked, Leisure or Technical tshirt. Your choice!

Safety. There will be a reasonable, minimum kit list specified. This will reflect the terrain, distance and the 'on the day' conditions.

Our aim this year is the same as last, to get each and every one of you over the entire route, safely, with the minimum of fuss and the maximum amount of satisfaction.

Race HQ/registration is located at the Finish in the West Coastal village of St Bees. Coach transport from there to the start, will be provided. Race start 08:00. Course cut off: 12 hrs. Checkpoints/feed stations at 10, 20 and 30 miles approx. Checkpoint cut-off times will be pro-rata'd by distance and will be enforced. The course is approx. 36 miles long, has 4000ft of ascent and 4500ft of descent. The route will not be signed, but an excellent, detailed, CLEAR, road book will be provided. Navigation skill level required - Low.

*Our experience and feedback from previous entrants, confirms that this route is suitable for new ultra-runners. Whilst a lot of entrants have completed marathons before moving to ultras, our experience is that this is not a pre-requisite to enjoying, and being successful at the SBU35. Having said that, having a realistic expectation of your performance is essential. Be prepared to combine periods of walking with your running, don’t run the hills and make sure that in your training, you gradually build up the time you spend on your feet, until you’re confident that you can manage the time that you’ll need on race day. Experience of off road running/walking is essential and a visit to the lakes to run and a recce of even part of the route, will make a tremendous difference.

*Country miles. Despite the advances in GPS technology, it is not yet sufficient to ensure that your GPS distance recorded on race-day will match our declared race distance of 36 miles, or any other runners’ units either. The declared distance of 36 miles, is taken from the average of the total distance recorded by a number of GPS units, from a number of runners following the official route. We like then to use our term ‘Country miles’ to explain the difference between your measured distance and ours. :)

Note: This event is held under UK Athletics rules. Entrants must be 21yrs or over on race-day. Minimum kit as specified on the website will be required.

Trail Running Association Permit : TBA.

Updated details and race day information will be published on our website (currently under revamp). It is important that you keep in touch for updates. We will however, email out selected information and race day instructions, so please add the domain @sientries to your email list of safe senders.

Good Luck to all!



Event Organiser
Jon Raymond



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 SBU St Begas Ultra

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10:39 15-06-18

St Begas Ultra is an impressive event marketed anyone - new ultra runners and those more 'seasoned'. The website and communication was of the highest quality. The event for 2018 had been moved to Spring Bank Weekend on a Sunday. The perfect way to spend a bank holiday weekend.

The systematically extra efficient registration ran like clockwork so gave confidence that the event would certainty be a good one. Disclaimer, very slick but comprehensive full kit check, tea & coffee, questions, drop bags and then camping and buffs all in that order.

Coaches promptly lined up the following morning to take runners from the finish at St Bees odd Wood Bassenthwaite Lake, just outside of Keswick. Again very slick.

A thorough race briefing gave further confidence that the race was run in safe hands, and the RD and his merry men (and women) would pop en route to wish us well.

The diversity of the route kept it interesting from start to finish. Beginning with an uphill slog through woodland then dropping into Keswick, meandering around the lush trails of Derwent water and winding through the pretty valley of Borrowdale. After the first of three lavish checkpoints the route climbed up towards the tourist haven of Honister Slate mine and beyond - a good hill and a half.

The checkpoints were all 'indoors' and the shelves were certainty not empty. With ample choices of savoury and sweet snacks and various drinks, you could have mistaken it for your local market stalls.

The route is not marked though easy to follow with the most comprehensive 'road book' you could imagine, all complete with maps and easy to read instructions.

The route takes in open moorland, drops down a technical descent into the Ennerdale valley past the very quaint 'Blacksail YHA', a few miles of forest track and then onto the next checkpoint awaits.

Round Ennerdale water and through Ennerdale Bridge where an extra water station had been strategically placed to look after rather hot runners. A rolling descend following a very pretty Beck led to what locals call 'Bummers' Hill - no explanation needed, followed by an easy descent to the final checkpoint just after 30 miles.

The home straight of around 4 miles takes the runners on a bike track and through farm fields back to St Bee's.

A most welcoming finish awaits, with a goodie bag inscribed with your name, a 'pick your own medal' field - all original and different shapes and sizes made out of Honistor slate, a hot meal and beer token, technical or cotton tee (your choice) and a couple of other little goodies thrown in for good measure including some merino wool socks.

Everything about this event was slick as a whistle, and a whistle was also part of the mandatory kit.

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01:13 04-09-17

A stunning route and a friendly and well-organised race. Great checkpoints and great food too. Fairly flat, except for 2 climbs (save some energy for the second one! :p) Although trail shoes are not mandatory, a good grip would definitely feel safer in some areas. Treat yourself, give it a go!

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06:55 05-01-17

My first ultra and I had chosen it both for the stunning location and the fact that it is aimed at first time ultra runners. I would struggle to find anything wrong with any aspect of the race. The route is visually stunning and has the right mix of terrain from flat open fields, lakes, tough climbs and flat tracks. The aid stations were unbelievable! They were all indoors, manned by extremely friendly people that had dress in fancy dress and were stocked with all sorts of food and drink, both hot and cold. And at the finish line you get a free beer and fish and chips! This was an extremely memorable event and I can't recommend it highly enough.

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01:50 08-09-16

My 1st ultra, this was preparation for the Cumbria Way Ultra and was a perfect introduction. The route is superb, varied terrain and tough. But not ridiculously tough. The whole organisation of the event was fantastic, everything worked like clockwork. The marshals on the course and the checkpoints were fantastic and very encouraging. The finish is 2nd to none with a free beer & fish and chips. Great event, I shall hopefully retuning.

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09:03 31-08-15

my 1st ultra. The help on the facebook group eased my nerves and answered several newbie questions. Turning up at race HQ, I was made to feel at ease, the tea and coffee helped. From kit check to getting to start via coach. The atmosphere was calm and relaxed. The road book was worth the race fee alone. Every checkpoint was well stocked with food,drink and medical staff. The route provided every type of terrain. Even the rain at the highest point, didn't dampen the spirits of marshals and runners. Crossing the finishline with my kids, will be something i will never forget. Also the free beer was cold and most welcome. I will be back next year.

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11:34 31-08-15

My first Ultra experience and I couldn't have asked for anything more from the event. Great organisation, fantastic course and amazing support and encouragement from all of the marshals and volunteers along the route.
Despite being almost the last finisher, and being unable to walk properly for the foreseeable future, I have already decided that I will definitely be back next year.

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11:30 31-08-15

My first Ultra and what a superb race to start with. Stunning scenery, great variety of terrain, brutally challenging climbs, technical descents and plenty of good company along the route. Absolutely the best organised race ie ever run, from pre-race info through to early morning kit checks, road book, brilliant checkpoints and first class timing system. Fantastic for all levels of runner and certainly an experience I will treasure.

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09:25 18-04-15

The route is an ideal introduction to ultra-distance running with a well-balanced mixture of terrain and trail surface to provide lots of challenge, enjoyment and interest.
The organisation was meticulous, each competitor received a detailed route book at registration, which included descriptions and maps. Also include was access to a GPS file of the route, free coach transport to the start, trail snacks at each checkpoint, qualified medical staff at each checkpoint, finish line food and a free pint of beer from local Ennerdale brewery. I'm entered again already.

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08:52 17-04-15

The whole experience from entering early in 2014 to the 'lasting buzz' driving home surpassed all expectations. Everyone we met and spoke to was helpful, friendly and encouraging, the organisation and facilities were spot on, the route stunning and varied and the atmosphere not to be beaten. Need I say more?? ….other than 'give it a go, you'll love it'!!!

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12:28 17-04-15

The SBU35 St Begas Ultra in 2014 was my first Ultra. It was the perfect introduction I needed to make the next step to ultra running - the staff and their volunteers were supportive, the course varied and challenging with each of the aid stations having everything you'd need. They even had beer waiting at the finish line. I enjoyed it so much, I signed up for 2015!

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