Stour Valley Path 100km Ultra Run: Running in the beautiful English Countryside painted by Constable

18 Feb 2013 07:00
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview

Hello, on September 14th 2013, you’ll be organizing the Stour Valley Path 100km Ultra Run. Can you tell us where it is located?

Certainly. The run is located in the region of East Anglia, England. It will start in Newmarket and will pass through the three counties of Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Essex, before finishing in Cattawade, a village near Manningtree.

How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

This will be the inaugural year for the race. Nic and I are both very fond of running along the footpath and wanted to share the beauty of the area with other like-minded runners.

The landscape on the Essex-Suffolk border was made famous by painters such as John Constable, who was born in Suffolk and painted scenery around the local area. Examples of his work can be found hanging in the Victoria and Albert Museum and also the National Gallery London.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The run will cover almost the entire length of the Stour Valley Path. The route is primarily off-road, so runners will spend the majority of their time running / walking on paths, through woodland and following disused railway lines. It’s a well marked trail, with frequent waymarkers along the entire length of the route.

For those who are likely to finish in the dark, we will set up glow sticks towards the latter sections of the race, to help with navigation along the path.

How many runners do you expect on Saturday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

We hope to attract somewhere between 100-200 runners for the race. The run should appeal to seasoned ultra runners, people wishing to obtain a Spartathlon qualification time over the 100km, or people who are looking to run their first ever 100km race.

Do you organize other races during the Weekend? If so, on what distances?

This will be the first race Nic and I have organised. However, having participated in a wide range of single and multi-day ultras, we hope to bring the best practices and experiences from these events to our race.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

Given the race will be in September in England, the weather can vary considerably. The historic average is around 16 degrees celcius, so it should be a pleasant temperature for runners.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

We are still planning this element of the race, however we hope to have a great atmosphere and a number of supporters out on the day. The run passes a large number of beautiful country pubs, so I’m sure there will be plenty of people to cheer on the runners, especially if the sun is out.

The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Newmarket before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

Well, the race is point to point, so whilst the runners actually start in Newmarket, they will finish the race just outside of Manningtree, Essex.

If people arrive in Newmarket the day before the race, there should be plenty to keep them occupied. It’s the home of British horseracing and has been associated with horses and royalty since Queen Boadicea’s days, but became synonymous with racing in the 17th century when King James I moved his court to the town and became the unofficial second capital of England for the rest of the Stuart period. To discover the stories of racing, people can visit the National Horse Racing Museum.

Should runners have any energy left after the race, they may wish to either visit the coast (the finish line is at the mouth of the River Stour), cheer on other runners passing through the Dedham Vale (where John Constable painted famous paintings such as The Hay Wain), or visit one of the many comfy pubs in the area for a relaxing drink.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Stour Valley Path 100km Ultra Run?

This is the ideal race for those wishing to run a fast 100km race, or those simply wanting to see a beautiful and varied landscape with many historic sights during their run.

Interview with Matthew Hearne. Matthew is organising the race with an old school friend of his called Nic Clarke. Both have been running ultras for a number of years and Nic is also a keen climber. He was part of a 7 member team which successfully became the first ever expedition to travel from The Dead Sea to the peak of Mt Everest.