The Winter Downs 200 is a 200 mile continuous trail run taking place over 13th-17th December 2023. The route forms a giant loop around the South of England, the heartland of our events taking in the North Downs Way, Vanguard Way, South Downs Way, Wayfarers Walk and St Swithuns Way.
Runners have up to 96 hours to complete the course with our usual live tracking available across the entire event. Runners will also be permitted to have a crew and access to a drop bag at the three major aid stations where hot food and sleeping facilities will be on hand. But the clock doesn't stop, this is a single stage race. With 16 hours of darkness each day, long stretches between aid stations and the undulating terrain, the race is designed to be an incredible winter running adventure on what is a phenomenal course with lots of good runnable ground.
Starting out from Juniper Hall in the shadow of Box Hill and the North Downs Way, the route travels east for 18 miles on the National Trail as far as its intersection with the Vanguard Way at Botley Hill. The course then travels south for 45 miles on the Vanguard Way to Alfriston, which is our 91 mile point on the South Downs Way 100. Runners will then turn west and run almost 80 miles of the South Downs Way as far as Exton. Before turning north-east, first on the Wayfarers Walk and then the St. Swithuns Way up to Farnham - a section of 32 miles - to rejoin the North Downs Way at the trail head. The final 25 miles of the course completes the loop back on the North Downs Way to Box Hill and Juniper Hall.
The trails are all way-marked permanently recognised footpaths and in the case of the NDW and SDW - National Trails - managed by the National Trail network and the South Downs National Park in conjunction with the various county councils. The trails are open year round to the public, but cut through a mixture of private land and public byways. It is absolutely essential that runners respect the land, the landowners and residents at all times on the course.
1. Course Route: The race will be a loop of 200 miles, starting and finishing at Juniper Hall near Dorking.
2. Familiarity: Knowledge of the trail offers both physical and mental advantages. Runners are advised to cover/recce as much of the trail as possible before race day. Transport links between different sections of the course are generally very good.
3. Weather: December in the South of the UK usually brings mixed weather. Average temperatures are around 5 degrees and rain falls 30% of the time. Much of the course is up on the ridge and particularly on the South Downs, conditions can be much more extreme with high winds, thick cloud and rain making progress and navigation extremely challenging. If it rains the ground will become wet, slippery and in places very muddy, presenting technical footing particularly on the trail and stair sections of the course. Generally though the course is runnable year round with good paths and tracks for the majority, while country lanes and short sections of road account for around 20% of the journey.
4. Nutrition & Hydration: Even if it is cold it is extremely important to stay hydrated and particularly to keep calories going in. The aid stations are long distances apart and it will be crucial for runners to consider how much they carry on them at all times as well as topping up from crews if they have them, or being aware of re-supply points if they do not.
5. Trail Markings: Permanent way-markings include sign posts, finger posts and other fixed markers which sign the way on each of the five trails. It is crucial that runners familiarise themselves with those and keep an eye out for them on the ground. But a GPS device and the ability to charge it on the move and at the aid stations, is part of the mandatory kit for the event. Runners must ensure they are used to navigating from a GPS device, in difficult conditions and particularly at night. It is necessary for runners to continually remain alert as they travel. Knowledge of the trail, particularly of those miles that will be covered in the dark, will be of infinite benefit to the runner. You are ultimately responsible for following the correct course.
6. Dropping: If you have to drop out of the race away from an aid station or at a point where your crew (if you have one) is unavailable, we will get to you as soon as possible and bring you to the finish or to the nearest major checkpoint that is still in operation, particularly if you are in need of medical attention. In non-emergency situations, you may have to wait several hours before being transported on from there to the finish. All aid stations have cut offs and will close as soon as the cut off is reached - runners may not leave a check point after the cut off has passed. If runners are still behind on the course when a cut off is reached, the aid station crew will wait for them before departing. We will remain in situ until every runner is accounted for. A full list of the cut offs can be found under the aid station section.
7. Trail Etiquette: Please be courteous to hikers, mountain bikers, horse riders and other runners. Please also respect that many residents back on to the trail. Keep noise to a minimum through those areas and throughout all sections traversed during the night. Littering of any kind will result in immediate disqualification.
8. Volunteers: Volunteers will do everything possible to make your day a success. Many spend more hours (and days!) out on the trail than do the runners themselves. Please be polite and make a point to thank them. Without the volunteers, there would be no race.
All rules are at the final discretion of the race management team. No challenges will be permitted.
There will be a full kit check at registration and spot checks at the check points and/or out on course. Runners must carry the following mandatory equipment at all times. A time penalty of one hour will be imposed for any item found to be missing at any point on course.
Needless to say this event is a significant undertaking at a time of year where conditions could be extremely harsh. Some runners will also be uncrewed, meaning that to level the playing field, everyone will need access to the same kit throughout.
Over the coming months we will release further information and clarification on the kit lists below. For those looking at options now, the kit listed in our Winter Downs 200 collection here will all pass kit check and comes recommended by us.
This kit list is subject to change and alteration right up until the final pre-race communications.
In your Drop Bag
Recommended but NOT Mandatory
|1||There will be no unofficial runners.||Unofficial Runners/ Running without a registration or Running under another name||Lifetime Ban at RD Discretion|
|2||Each runners bib number must be worn on their backpack and must be easily visible at all times.||Bib number not visible on front||One Hour Penalty|
|3||Runners must follow the course at all times - per the Map and GPX supplied in the pre-race notes. Any runner caught deliberately cutting the course will be banned from taking part in future Centurion events.||Short-cutting the route knowingly||At the RD's Discretion|
|4||Each runner must complete the entire course under his or her own power.||Receiving powered assistance ie. vehicular, bike, horse, or short rope from pacer||DQ and Lifetime Ban|
|5||Runners may not store supplies of any kind along the trail.||Storing Supplies along the trail||Two Hour Penalty|
|6||Runners can spend a maximum of 3 hours at CP1 and a maximum of 6 hours at CP2 and CP3||Exceeding CP limits||Three Hour Penalty for every hour exceeded|
|7||Cut-off times will be strictly enforced. There are cut offs at EVERY aid station. Runners leaving any aid station after the cut off will not be listed as official finishers and will not be eligible for awards.||Continuing/ leaving aid station after cut off||DQ & Lifetime Ban at RD Discretion|
|8||Injection of PEDs or Fluids/ IVs by non-official race medical personnel||Injection of PEDs or Fluids/ IVs by non-official race medical personnel||DQ and Lifetime Ban|
|9||Littering of any kind will result in immediate disqualification. Runners caught littering will be banned from all future Centurion events. Please respect the natural beauty of our trails and the right of everyone to enjoy them. Littering will threaten our use of the trails and the future of the race.||Littering by competitor or crew||DQ & Lifetime Ban at RD Discretion|
|10||Any runner who is unable to finish the race must personally inform the aid station captain of the nearest checkpoint of their decision to withdraw. HE OR SHE MUST HAND IN THEIR RACE NUMBER AND TRACKER TO THE AID STATION CAPTAIN AT THAT TIME. This serves as official notice of a runner’s withdrawal from the race. Runners who leave the course without turning in their number will be classified as “lost,” initiating serach and rescue, for which the runner will be charged.||Not informing organisers of withdrawal from event||DQ and ban at race directors discretion|
|11||Runners are responsible for the actions of their crews. If your crew are deemed to have broken any of the runner race rules or separate rules for crew, the runner will be held accountable.||Crew who are found to be complicit in breaking rules and/or assisting runner in breaking rules.||DQ & Lifetime Ban at RD Discretion|
|12||Minimum age on race day is 20||Providing false information relating to age on registration form||Lifetime Ban|
|13||Pacers are not permitted to accompany runners at any time, even for short distances.||Pacing||DQ & Lifetime Ban at RD Discretion|
|14||Runners must carry with them AT ALL TIMES the mandatory equipment required.||Missing Item of Mandatory Kit||Minimum of 1 hour penalty per missing item or DQ|
|15||There will be mandatory gear checks at the start, on route, or at the finish. Failure to comply with the gear checks will result in disqualification.||Refusal to have obligatory equipment checked||DQ & Lifetime Ban at RD Discretion|
|16||Runners are not to be accompanied by dogs at any time whilst on course.||Accompanied by dog||DQ|
|17||Any athlete who has been determined to have violated anti-doping rules at any time - through IAAF, the World Anti-Doping Agency, UK Anti Doping or any other National Sports Federation is ineligible for entry into any of our events. We reserve the right to conduct pre and post-competition testing for any and all performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) listed on the current WADA Prohibited List. Any athlete who refuses to submit to anti-doping controls, if selected for testing, shall be disqualified and subject to a lifetime ban from our events.||Previous Doping Infraction or refusal to comply with testing if selected.||DQ and Lifetime Ban|
|18||Runners must at all times comply with any instruction given by race management, staff and volunteers.||Being crewed on a no-crew race.||DQ & Lifetime Ban at RD Discretion|
RULE VIOLATION PROCEDURE
Any protests to a ruling or of a runner to runner violation must be submitted by a registered entrant and must be lodged using the following procedure:
1. Report the alleged violation to the runner, his/her crew or pacer as the incident occurs. Enlist a fellow witness to the alleged violation if possible.
2. Report the alleged violation with the runner’s name and number to the next available aid station staff.
3. Report the alleged violation in writing at the finish line to the race director. All protests must be submitted by 6pm on Monday following the race. Written protest must include the name of the person who lodged the complaint.
4. Decision on all violations and rules is at the final discretion of the Race Management ONLY. There will be no challenges after that decision.
The trails are used by, but not limited to, horse riders, walkers and mountain bikers. Please be aware of other people whilst you are running and be as polite and courteous as possible to them, making way when necessary, particularly to horses. We do not have priority over any other users out on the course, most will be totally unaware of the event taking place. All gates must be properly closed after you have gone through.
Please see the video here for details on what the terms crews, pacers and supporters mean and where and when the three groups are permitted at our events.
Crews are encouraged at this event. We look after you with full meals and sleeping facilities at the aid stations, with additional medical support and plenty of volunteers to help you on your way. However, having a crew can provide a psychological lift and ensure that you have the food and drink you prefer and changes of clothing along the way - particularly at this event where the gaps between aid stations are large.
Runners are permitted to sleep in crew vehicles, as long as:
- That vehicle doesn't move.
- If a runner stops for over 30 minutes at a crew location they must phone or text Race HQ to inform them.
- All crew names and vehicle registrations must be declared pre-race via the form that will be provided.
A separate tab listing all crew access locations is available by clicking here
Crews must follow all of the rules and regulations of the race, including the Rules, Rules for Crews and any supplementary instructions issued in pre-race memos or at the race briefing. All crew members must willingly comply with all instructions from race staff at all points along the trail and its access routes, including parking regulations, or risk disqualification of their runner.
The runner is directly responsible for all of the actions of their crew throughout the duration of the event.
RULES FOR CREWS
A crew member is defined as any individual who provides material support to a runner during the event.
Crew vehicles must be a maximum size of a Long Wheel Base transit or transporter. No Motorhomes for any reason.
Crews must not attend the aid stations themselves for any reason.
RUNNERS MAY ONLY HAVE ONE CREW VEHICLE AT ANY ONE CREW LOCATION.
Crews may meet runners or assist them ONLY at the points listed on the crew info page here. The aid station locations and many other points on the course are remote and too small to handle ANY additional parking. If your crew do assist you outside of the permitted points, you the runner will be disqualified. PLEASE ensure your crew do not break this rule - you will threaten the future of the race by doing so. YOU are responsible for the actions of your crew. We cannot make this any clearer, if your crew attend anywhere outside areas deemed as permitted crew access, you risk disqualification from the event. We get people every year who are fully aware of the rules and continue to disobey them. It threatens the future of our events so please ask them not to do it.
Crews must always drive at safe speeds.
Crews must never park illegally on the road, or in such a way as to block traffic, access to the trail or checkpoint, or other parked cars.
Littering of any kind at any checkpoint, along the trail, or at the finish line is strictly prohibited.
NOTES FOR CREWS
Crews should be equipped with torches, suitable clothing for all condtions and first aid kits.
RUNNERS WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF THEIR CREWS.
Are not permitted at any point. Runners should not be joined or accompanied by any other runner not in the race, at any point - even for very short distances.
The Winter Downs 200 is an extremely challenging event and participation presents numerous medical risks, many of which can be extremely serious or fatal.
Participation in this event is at the runner’s own risk. Although medical personnel are positioned at various points along the course, the inaccessibility of much of the trail will make it difficult or impossible for medical assistance to reach the runner immediately.
Medical support at the race is under the direction of the Race Medical Director whose details to be used in an emergency will be made available to all runners at registration, further to that of the Race Director.
At any one time during the race there will be a minium of one ambulance/ medical support car on call. There will also be a static medical team at the finish from the time of the first, to the time of the last finisher. In addition there will be medical crews at the aid stations.
It is important for each entrant to recognise the potential physical and mental stresses, which may evolve from participation in the race. Runners may be subject to extremes of cold, hypothermia, hyperthermia, dehydration, hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, disorientation and mental and physical exhaustion. We and the medical staff strive to work with runners and will do all we reasonably can to ensure “safe passage” to the finish line, but ultimately runners must understand their own limitations. Adequate physical and mental conditioning prior to the race is mandatory. If you have not been able to prepare properly, do not attempt to run.
Runners should appreciate the risks associated with participation in this event. Actions may have to be taken on your behalf under extreme time constraints and adverse circumstances. We will make every effort to give assistance whenever possible but ultimately and primarily you are in charge, and you are likely to be solely responsible for creating your own crisis that we must then respond to. Be careful, be responsible, and do not exceed your own abilities and limitations.
Some of the main risks, but certainly not all of them, are listed here. These should be understood and remembered by all runners, before and during the event. Please note that death can result from several of the risk conditions discussed below.
1. Renal Shutdown: Renal shutdown occurs from muscle tissue injury which causes the release of myoglobin, a protein material, into the blood plasma. Myoglobin is cleared from the blood stream by the kidneys and will look brownish-colored in the urine. Adequate hydration will help flush myoglobin through the kidneys. Overwhelming amounts of myoglobin may clog the filtering system of the kidneys either partially or totally. If not treated, renal shutdown can cause permanent impairment of kidney function. IT IS CRUCIAL TO CONTINUE HYDRATING USING ELECTROLYTE FLUIDS DURING THE FINAL HOURS OF THE RUN AND FOR SEVERAL HOURS/ DAYS FOLLOWING THE RUN OR UNTIL THE URINE IS LIGHT YELLOW AND OF NORMAL FREQUENCY. There is extensive research to support the claim that NSAIDs (ie. ibuprofen etc) greatly increase a runners chances of reaching a stage of renal shutdown. We will not provide Ibuprofen at any aid station and you are strongly advised not to take it during or immediately after the run. More information on this subject can be obtained by contacting the race director.
2. Effects of Cold/Hypothermia: Temperatures in December in the UK are usually cold and particularly at night, the temperature may drop down in to single figures or below coupled with high winds and cloud which will make going extremely difficult. With wet conditions and/or moderate to high winds runners will be open to severe exposure during the event. Hypothermia is a serious risk, especially at night and in the wet since one’s energy reserves will have been depleted. Hypothermia can strike very quickly, particularly when pace slows from exhaustion or injury. The initial warning signs of hypothermia often include lethargy, disorientation and confusion. The runner will feel very cold with uncontrolled shivering and may become confused, unaware of the surroundings, and may possibly be an immediate danger to his or herself. Staying well-nourished, adequately hydrated and appropriately clothed will help avoid hypothermia. It is essential that runners carry the mandatory kit with them at all times on the course and where possible to have access to warm clothing through their support crews and drop bags, or preferably both.
3. Vehicle Hazards: Much of the trail is near to, crosses or travels along roads which are NOT marshalled. There are therefore several areas on the course where runners and crews must be watchful for vehicles. Runners cross all roads at their own risk.
4. Use of Drugs: No drugs of any kind should be taken before, during or immediately after the race. A partial list of problem drugs include amphetamines, tranquilizers, and diuretics.
5. Injuries from Falling: Falling is an ever-present danger on trails, with potentially serious consequences. Much of the trail is narrow, uneven and rutted and there are some significant sections of stairs where particular attention is required. The course may be covered with sitting water or ice which will create significant challenges and potential hazards to runners.
6. Overuse Injuries: Obviously, innumerable overuse injuries can occur, especially in the knee and the ankle. Sprains and fractures can easily occur on the trails. Blisters may also halt progress.
7. Common Fatigue: One of the dangers you will encounter is fatigue. Fatigue, combined with the effects of dehydration, hypothermia, hyperthermia, hyponatremia, hypoglycemia and other debilitating conditions can produce disorientation and irrationality.
8. Difficulty in Gaining Access to or Locating Injured Participants: Much of the trail is inaccessible by motor vehicle. Accordingly, in spite of the many layers of safety precautions instituted by the race management (including radio communications, sweepers, foot patrols and other emergency services and medical personnel at many checkpoints), there is absolutely no assurance that aid or rescue assistance will arrive in time to give you effective assistance should you become sick, incapacitated or injured.
What to do in a Medical Emergency:
If there is a problem and you need the Medical Team either to attend or just for advice, call: 07040 900 402 at ANY time during the event.
This will put you through to the Event Medical Team Leader who will co-ordinate any response and/or give advice, Our team will be happy to talk you through Emergency Aid Procedures on the phone whilst they are on their way to you.
If you are ill/injured or have found someone who is ill/injured and need the medical team to attend your location, we’ll need to know the following:
Your Phone Number (In case we need to call you back)
Where You Are (Preferably Sat-Nav’able Location, e.g. Outside the Church on South Street in Redhill or 1 Mile along the route from where it crosses the A3), we’re also able to access Lat/Long if you have a GPS with that capability.
Your name and/or Runner Number and that of the Casualty if Different.
What’s wrong? What do you need the medical team for?
If you are not the casualty, but have found them, please stay with them until help arrives, whilst this may impact on your personal best, at least you’ll have a good excuse
Make the casualty as visible as possible and keep them warm, It is mandatory for each runner to carry a Heatshield Bag or Bivi Bag which should be used if you're in any doubt at all.
Do not allow the casualty to move UNLESS they are in an unsafe position, e.g. in the middle of a busy road and there is no other option.
Do not give the casualty anything to eat or drink until the medical team arrive as they may require surgery or medical procedures at hospital and food/drink will delay this being able to happen.
Be ready to flag down the Medical Team when they are close by.
The phone used to call the Medical Team must remain with the casualty until the medical team arrives, if we’re having difficulty finding you, we will call you back.
General Rule: If the Casualty is NOT BREATHING, is likely to STOP BREATHING imminently, call 999 for the Ambulance Service, then the Event Medical Team (We ask that you call both because we may be close by and can assist until the 999 Service Arrives), for all other Injuries/Illnesses, call the Event Medical Team on the above number FIRST and we’ll take it from there.
If you just need advice, give the Medical Team a call on the number above.
There will be 3 major aid stations and 1 safety point along the length of the course. At all three aid stations, runners will have access to full hot meals, their drop bags and sleeping accommodation. Crew are not permitted at or in the aid stations themselves. The Safety Point (check point 4) will provide only hot water, tea, coffee, soup, toilets and shelter.
Runners are permitted a maximum of 3 hours at CP1 and 6 hours at CP2 and CP3 respectively. But must ensure they leave the check point before the final cut off passes, irrespective of their arrival time. Runners are only permitted 60 minutes maximum stopping time at CP3.5.
Aid Station 1 at Mile 49 is at Blackboys Village Hall where runners will find a large hall for eating and sorting their kit, with adjacent kitchen. And a side room available for getting a short rest - 3 Hour Time Limit for total stay.
Aid Station 2 at Mile 92 is at Truleigh Hill YHA. Runners will have access to the entire hostel. Hot Food will be served in the upstairs lounge area and sleeping accommodation is in the YHA rooms.
Aid Station 3 at Mile 137 is at the Sustainability Centre. Much like the YHA, runners will have access to the entire centre, with food served in the main canteen and sleeping in the many rooms the Centre offers.
Aid Station 4 at mile 183 is at Puttenham Cricket Club Pavilion. This is a Safety Point, not an aid station. Runners will have access to hot water, tea, coffee and soup. Toilets and shelter in the pavilion but there is a strict 60 minute time limit. There is no access to drop bags here or any crew support.
Drop bags must be 20kg of weight or less and will be taken to each aid station for all runners.
Drop bags must be ideally waterproof, securely tied, labelled clearly with the runner’s name and entry number. A separate drop bag is not required for each aid station, just one bag that travels on to each location and then the Finish.
Cut-off and “pace” times are listed on the Aid Station Chart. Cut-off times reflect the deadlines for LEAVING the aid station. If you return to an aid station after the cut-off, you will be pulled from the race. The cut-off times will be strictly enforced by the Aid Station Captains. Anyone leaving an aid station after the cut-off time will be disqualified. This rule is for the safety of all participants.
All entrants who finish the race in full accordance with the rules qualify for awards given in recognition of their achievement.
Buckles to all finishers.
Male and Female Race winners will be awarded the Centurion Trophy.
There will also be separate Vet Awards as follows:
M40, M50, M60, M70. F40, F50, F60, F70.