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XNRG Pilgrim Challenge

05-Feb-2022 Sandy Farm Centre, Farnham, Surrey, UK (England)


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Trail Race Race Terrain
53KM / 33Miles
2 Days

Alternate Distances: 106KM/66M

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Intermediate  

Run, jog or walk your way across the impressive North Downs Way - firmly established as one of our most popular events. Follow in the footsteps of pilgrims travelling to Canterbury as you pass through stunning landscapes steeped in history.

The race soaks up ancient countryside, picturesque villages and areas of outstanding natural beauty. As with all of our events, everything is taken care of at the Pilgrim Challenge so you can focus on the experience!

You can enter the whole weekend , or individual days. Entries will close one week before the event (or when full). A waitlist option will be available if the event becomes fully booked.

Start / Finish
Registration will be open from 06:30 on Saturday at Sandy Farm Business Park, Sands Road, The Sands, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 1PX.

Start on day 1: Sandy Farm Business Park, Sands Road, The Sands, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 1PX
Finish on day 1: The Warwick School, Noke Drive, Redhill RH1 4AD, (TQ 285 508)
Finish on day 2: Sandy Farm Business Park, Sands Road, The Sands, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 1PX.

The North Downs National Trail has excellent markings in the form of signposts or post discs. In addition, you will be given a route card and map, designed to help on any tricky sections. We recommend familiarising yourself with the route before the start of the race - for more information download our full race instructions.

Overnight accommodation
Premier Inn Redhill
Redhill Town Centre Travelodge
Redhill Travelodge

If you choose either of these options, we can give you a lift to and from your hotel - just let us know what you're planning to do when booking.

Aid stations
There will be four checkpoints each day, fully stocked with water, and sweet and savoury food to keep you fuelled.
Due to the risk of cross-contamination, we can't provide checkpoint food to suit all dietary requirements. If you require special food or snacks to suit any allergies or vegetarian/vegan diets, please bring your own. Put them in containers, marked with your name and checkpoint number and give them to the checkpoint teams at the start of the race - we'll make sure they're waiting for you!

We're going green
Help us reduce the impact our events have on the environment by bringing your own reusable or collapsible cups for drinks at checkpoints.

The event is supported by a Course Manager and a fully qualified medical crew will be in attendance. We strongly recommend taking a moment to read our medical page before booking.

The only compulsory kit is a fully charged mobile phone and a minimum 500ml of water, but it's worth taking a look at our recommended kit list. Other equipment may be made compulsory by the race director depending on the weather.

Getting to and from the event

By train
Trains run from London Waterloo to Farnham roughly every half an hour from 05:00. We'll be running minibus shuttles to the start on day one, with the last pick up from Farnham Station at 09:00. Let us know your train travel plans when you book.
For the return journey, trains run from Redhill to London Waterloo every half hour.

By road
Farnham is on the A31, A331 from Junction 4 of the M3. Redhill is on the A25, A271 and A25 from Junction 8 of the M25.


Event Organiser
Brian Thubron



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 XNRG Pilgrim Challenge

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Peter Telford

10:03 04-02-19

Ran this in 2019 - an excellent race, well organised and marshalled. The route is well marked and the scenery is spectacular - winter wonderland. The paths were muddy and slippy but it is February so what you would expect. Checkpoints were well stocked and with very friendly marshals. Whilst I am not doing MDS there were a lot of people that were - a great 2 day event to get the season underway.

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01:29 28-05-18

My first ultra this year and one of my favourites; well organised, great staff/volunteers and one of the best selections of checkpoint food I've seen.

The route is well marked and there's a good variety underfoot to keep things interesting - I did day 2 (2018) when the sun came out so the views were fantastic as well. There had been a lot of rain so many of the paths were VERY muddy - glad I went with Mudclaws.

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05:04 05-02-18

February 2018

This was my first multi-day ultra and I was using it with my brother as preparation for the MdS. The route itself is fantastic offering a great variety of terrain but this year specialising in the sloppiest, slipperiest mud imaginable that seemed to cover most of the last 15 miles of Day 1 and the first 15 of Day 2. This made it a real challenge when carrying a pack and I looked enviously at those able to spring over the terrain without any weight on at all.

The facilities at the overnight stop were fine and the talk presented by Elisabet Barnes was first rate (at least for the 60% of the field who were using the race as MdS prep).

On the course the martials were fantastic and the aid stations were well stocked, this support combined with the challenging terrain made it fantastic MdS prep and I would recommend it to anyone for the future.

My only point of improvement would be the finishers t-shirts which were ridiculously small compared to normal sizing, I am sure I was not the only one who left with a t-shirt that was unusable.

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[email protected]

04:40 16-02-17

Feb 2017. Excellent event with very friendly event team. Some good mud and hills lived in with some flatter sections where you can get into a good pace. Great views from the north Downs.

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09:40 15-02-17

February 2017.
This was the third time I entered this event. The North Downs Way is a fantastic route with everything from forest tracks to woodland paths and open commons. The organisation by Neil and his XNRG crew is second to none and will ensure that this multi-day ultra runs smoothly.
The great thing is this event suits both experienced ultra runners and those looking to dip their toes into the ultra distance or multi-day events. In fact many runners that sign up are going on to do the Marathon des Sables - along with those looking to do just one day as their first ultra.
The route is tough in places but there is also enough easy running to make this a thoroughly enjoyable event. The talks on the Saturday night by amazing ultra runners are very inspiring. Great for knowing you have to get up on the Sunday morning and run 33 miles back to the start/finish near Farnham.
Definitely recommend this.

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06:21 13-03-16

I did the Pilgrim Challenge for the first time in 2016 and like the other XNRG events I've been to it features a great atmosphere and fantastic camaraderie from the very beginning, this is one of the main reasons you see many of the same faces returning time and again to their events.

The route follows the North Downs Way from outside Farnham to Merstham for the overnight stop, it is a challenging event and features a lot of ascent but not so tough that anybody should be put of having a go at it & if the thought of doing 66 miles in 2 days is overwhelming then you can choose to just do one of the days. The NDW is well signed, Neil and the team put additional signs out, the route description is easy to follow & there are GPX files available to download so getting lost (for long) is hard to do.

The overnight stop is oddly one of the key selling points of their events with entertainment in the form of speakers at each event, we were treated to Elisabet Barnes which was awesome.

It is used by many in preparation for the Marathon des Sables as a great way of testing their kit in a multi stage event before they go and I for one will be back next year doing exactly this!

You can read my full report of the race here: https://ukruncat.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/pilgrims-challenge-2016-ultra-2-of-12/

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07:29 16-02-16

I ran the 2 day 66 mile option as my first multistage ultra in 2016. I had run bits of the NDW the month before at Winter Tanners so knew it would be muddy. I had no idea if I was up to a 2 day event but was excited to find out. The race was fantastically well organised with regular email updates in the weeks preceding it, a minibus to ferry people to and from Farnham station, great CPs with sweet and savoury options and incredibly helpful XNRG team members. The NDW is well signed, and there is a GPX file of the route on the website and a route card given out on the day. It's definitely suitable for runners such as myself who lack confidence in navigation.

The route was hilly, muddy and challenging at times. We had incredibly strong winds, particularly on Day 1 which made it tough going, but the camaraderie amongst runners was lovely and the views made all the climbing worthwhile!

Sleeping on a school hall floor isn't the ideal way to loosen muscles, but I wouldn't have been anywhere else overnight - being with so many like-minded people and the general atmosphere added to the whole experience. It was unfortunate that the school boiler broke down and we had cold showers, but that wasn't the fault of XNRG who went all-out to make it a great evening. We had a talk from Elisabet Barnes which was tremendously inspiring and we were well-fed and looked after.

Day 2 was hard, but it's amazing what your body will do and I was pleased to complete both days in daylight and with no injuries. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. It's an ideal introduction to multistage races for those who have done ultras previously. The one-day option would be a great first ultra. This is one of the friendliest races I have had the pleasure to run - everyone was given their medal by the race director with a handshake and we were taken care of from beginning to end.

XNRG transport your overnight stuff you - my tip is to pack clean dry shoes and kit for day 2 as you will get very wet and muddy! Now go and enter :-)

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06:34 29-01-15

XNRG organise great events! The organisers, Neil, Anna and Brian are so friendly and helpful and really care for the runners, and this is very apparent. The checkpoints are all well manned (and well stocked with tasty food!) and the race attracts a full mix of running abilities from all over the country so it's a great chance to catch up with running pals, new and old.
I did the 2 day option in 2014 for the first time, and I am heading back again this year in 2015 to run again. The route itself is fairly undulating and being run in the last weekend of January the weather always plays a part, it was floods last year and snow in 2013....what will 2015 bring?
The one day option is great for runners looking to try out their first ultra, but the real challenge is the 2 day option, after sleeping in a school hall and having to get up and run another 33 miles in the cold is tough for anyone, whether you are a walker or one of the elite runners.
The 2 day option also includes a fantastic evening of tasty food, chatting to everyone and hearing from some fabulous guest speakers. The food is plentiful and the chatter and laughter even more. Come along, you won't be disappointed, but it fills up quick so you will need to register very quick!

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