Organised by Eastbourne Borough Council, the Beachy Head Marathon attracts runners from all over the world. It started as the Seven Sisters Marathon in 1980 and has grown in popularity in recent years with around 2000 participants taking part at the end of October each year.
It’s a very tough race and should only be attempted by runners who have trained for the distance and are aware of the challenging nature of the course. That said, there is the option to walk the route and there is also a 10k race if the marathon seems a bit too much.
The marathon starts on the road by Bede School at the foot of the hill leading up to Beachy Head. It’s a frantic run up the hill before the route heads inland and joins the South Downs Way and Lullingon Heath National Nature Reserve to Jevington and then Alfriston at 9 miles before a big climb out of the village to run on the top of the downs again. At 12 miles the route turns left and heads back to the coast, arriving at Exceat and the Cuckmere River at 19 miles.
Finally, Beachy Head Marathon runners have to negotiate the Seven Sisters hills, passing Birling Gap and Belle Tout Lighthouse on the way back to the start/finish line having run 26 miles and climbed well over 1000 metres. There’s a video you can watch below.
There is free food, drinks, showers and even the opportunity to use the swimming pool at Bede school after crossing the finish line. Stuart Mills from Trail Running Sussex has won the event 7 times.
If you would like to take part next year, keep an eye on the Beachy Head Marathon website for sign up details and get training. If you’re not fit it’s going to be a pretty miserable day out on the Downs for you!