XNRG Devil’s Challenge in the South of England

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XNRG three-day, 97-mile ultra marathon along the South Downs Way

The XNRG event, open to runners and walkers, takes place over the Early May Bank Holiday weekend, which means the weather can be variable, but the scenery is always beautiful as everything is green and the trees freshly in leaf. Overnight accommodation is in schools, usually on the gym or hall floor; competitors’ luggage is transported along the course, so it is only necessary to carry a small pack with water and a few essentials. There are well-stocked checkpoints about every 8 miles. The South Downs Way in the UK is a national trail, so it is well marked, and no navigation skills are required.

The start is in Winchester, England’s ancient capital and former seat of King Alfred the Great. Many competitors arrive a day early to avoid an early start on Saturday and possible travel disruption. This gives them a chance to enjoy Winchester’s world class attractions and architecture including a magnificent Cathedral, award-winning pubs and restaurants and a tempting array of independent shops.

The staggered starts, with the walkers going first and the slower runners next means that the narrower sections of the course are not crowded.

The First Day Of The XNRG Devil’s Challenge

The first day is probably the easiest of the three, although it is still a tough day of 31 miles with 1146 metres of ascent and 1118 metres of descent. Competitors are pleased to reach Elsted Village Hall at the end where they can have a cup of tea and a piece of cake before being transported to the overnight accommodation in Midhurst. There they can have a shower and a substantial meal before a night’s rest. Some people forsake the camaraderie of communal sleeping and book a B & B nearby.

Day Two

Day two is hard being almost 35 miles, although overall it is ever so slightly downhill with 1355 metres of ascent and 1388 of descent. The views are first class as the route passes along the top of the Steyning Bowl before heading for the iconic Devil’s Dyke Valley and finishes near the Jack & Jill windmills. Yet again cake is at the end before catching the minibus shuttle to the accommodation in Brighton. This is a very long day for some of the competitors and support crew. The winner will complete the course in about five and a half hours, but the tail enders will be out for over 12 hours. There will still be cake left for them and a very warm welcome.

Day Three, The Final Stretch

Day three sees the competitors reaching the coast and passing over the famous Severn Sisters on their way to the finish in Eastbourne, taking in the views of white cliffs, lighthouses and the sea on the way. It is another day of climbing and descending (1218 & 1386). For many it will be their first multi-day event and for some it will be their first ultra, the sense of achievement on reaching the finish is immense.

The ethos of XNRG Extreme Energy Events is to allow people to challenge themselves to achieve big things in a safe and inspiring environment. The South Downs National Park provides a superb backdrop, while the experienced and enthusiastic checkpoint crew help the runners and walkers on their way. The professional medical team keep an eye on the runners and are ready to react, often helping before a problem becomes something that will stop a competitor finishing. Every competitor receives the same enthusiastic support whether they are the winner, who will finish the three stages with a combined time of about 15 hours 30 minutes, or the last walker home who will have a combined time of 31 hours and 30 minutes.

XNRG  have a range of challenges over 1, 2 or 3 days in stunning locations in the south of England. Full details on their website xnrg.co.uk

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Do you want to know more about running ultras?

Edward Chapman, the Trailrunningman has completed over 200 marathons and ultra-marathons. His biggest achievement is completing the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon 12 times! Rad Season Founder Oli Russell-Cowan chats to him about some of his best stories and his love for trail running, his training and nutrition.

Images credit: XNRG

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Edward Chapman

Edward is an ordinary guy, well as ordinary as a recovering accountant can be, but has achieved extraordinary things through running. He does not have a sporting background; at school he used to get out of physical education lessons as much as possible. His last school report said “His spasmodic appearances leave no opportunity to comment”. At the age of 40 a grave health warning resulted in the first tentative running steps. It took some time, but he eventually became hooked and has over 100 marathons or ultra marathons under his belt; a belt that is now much tighter! By just keeping on going Edward has achieved something amazing; completing the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon, a 250km desert self-sufficiency stage race, ten times. More people have walked on the moon than done that, not bad for an ex fat bloke. He will always be a trail runner, but is currently enjoying a new lease of life as an adventurer, hiker and wild camper.


5 thoughts on “XNRG Devil’s Challenge in the South of England

  1. Holly Chapman says:

    A very nice article dad and well written! 🙂

  2. Phillip says:

    Great sounding race. Lots of cake!

  3. Looks like a great event, glad to see I can walk it instead of running.

  4. Lynette Voigt says:

    I have done this race and it was amazing.
    Every hill that went up you knew it was going to go straight down and straight back up.
    There is an option to do one, two or all three days and every competitor is treated the same no matter their choice.
    The 3 days are hugely challenging but the marshalls and support staff are absolutely amazing.
    Without the encouragement of the support staff I would not have managed all three days.
    They encouraged, smiled, laughed, supported and worked from early morning until late at night to ensure the athletes were well catered for. It’s one big family and as exhausted as you are at the finish, you are sad to bid farewell and head home. I will definitely do another of the Energy Extreme events.

  5. Annie Dougall says:

    A perfect description of this amazing event. I have completed both years that it has been running and loved the scenery, really beautiful in this years sunshine, the atmosphere and support of crew, organisers and fellow runners! Awesome

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