Race Review – Steyning Stinger

Wait til you see the race photos

Pronounced Stenning, the race organized by the local running club is quite famous around these here parts. The Steyning Stinger is renowned, along with Purbeck and Portland, as being a particularly challenging course and I signed up for it at the behest of my coach as part of my daisy chain of events. I signed up for SDW50 (50 miles) as prep for Highland Ultra (125K), and signed up for Steyning as prep for SDW50 (as it is on much of the same route). But with me deferring Highland Ultra for a year, it made it all kind of unnecessary. And so, with my confidence flagging and cognizant of the strict cut off times, I binned SDW50 too. I just don’t feel ready for it. And so, with no need to run the full, I dropped down to the half, along with Keith Miller and Kyla.

It would be the first time in a Queen’s age that I have met up with the peeps, and it would include a boozy day with Lewis the day before. We booked the same train down, the same hotel (see review), and drank for about 6 hours in preparation.

We both got no sleep (see review) so I was glad to drop down to the half. There was a 30K option, but the elevation of the course is hectic, so 21K was enough for me. And it would be the best choice I made all weekend.

Fair I’d say

The wrong choices made include, but are not limited to:

  • Picking the awful hotel
  • Picking an awful hotel in Bramber, not Steyning, meaning we had a half hour walk to dinner, and to the race in the morning
  • Decided to wear a Ukraine football shirt in solidarity with those fighting and dying for their freedom (as it made me look hella fat)
  • Running within myself too much as I didn’t know the route, and subsequently adding about an hour to my time

So to the Race

The elevation profile is pretty crazy so I was glad to drop down. Not that the half was flat, not by any stretch of the imagination, but with Lew running the full and me concerned about how long I would take, I couldn’t take it too easy.


So I knew there would be about 5 big lumps on the way around, and mud. I was wearing my trusted Altra Lone Peaks, my trail shoe of choice for 2023 that served me well at the Pilgrim Challenge in February.

I left a little after Lew as the organisers we happy with a rolling start. The marathon runners could leave after 7:30, the 30K runners half an hour later, and the half runners half an hour after that. Given no one was checking what we had signed up for, let alone dropped down to or from, I just gave Lew a field’s length of a head start, started my tunes and headed out to enjoy the countryside.

And this is exactly why I love trail running. I remember the early days of my running. Only on road, and mostly halves. I wanted to run fast (ish) and get it done. Once I started my ultra running life at Amersham 5 years to the day earlier. 5 years of trail running and in that time 38 marathons and ultras on the mud. I can’t see myself going back to road races or shorter distances.

I like the tranquillity of it all. I passed the first checkpoint then the second. Waving to the marshals at the road crossing, not that there were many of them (marshals or road crossings). It was mostly you and the countryside.

I walked the ups, ran the downs, but took it very easy. Running less than a marathon, and therefore the race not counting towards the 100 Marathon Club, with me stuck on 77 for a while, I just enjoyed the time on my feet, in my head, and the music.

And then I was done. Not my slowest half but not far off it. It was very hilly, no sleep the night before and the beer didn’t help. But I was glad I did it, running over the line, and hoping for nice race photos in my Ukraine top. Only to be sorely disappointed.

Race Photos

Probably the worst I have ever seen, tying maybe with the monstrous Manchester Mara 2022 photos in the Chasers vest.

Oy vey!

The Bling 

Wooden, as is the way with most medals. And the same regardless of the race I think. So for me a disappointing half medal.

In Summary

In Summary I am glad that I dropped down from a tough marathon, and well done to Lew for completing it, as it meant I could catch up with Keith, and could help Kyla after her fall, I could eat, change, and then cheer Lew over the line before pointing him in the right direction for everything before getting a lift to Gatwick for the train home. It meant I was 1. home about 3 hours earlier than planned and 2. I was not dead.

The Steyning Stinger was a tough race regardless of the distance you chose. This is the South Downs Way, and as part of the SDW it was part of the SDW50 course. Having binned both SDW50 and the Highland Ultra, I had no reason to break myself, and feel shit for having Lew hang around for an hour or more after he’d finished.

It does mean that there is a change in the calendar. The next race was meant to be the SDW50. But instead I picked the Easter 50 around Windsor. A week earlier but a hell of a lot flatter. I love Windsor, easy to get to. Easy race, nice and relaxed with a large walking contingent I will head out an hour earlier than, so probably won’t see any of them on the route. But you know what? I am ok with that.

I would recommend the Steyning Stinger. The organisation was spot on, the course challenging and picturesque, the support non-existent, but with a cooked breakfast (veggie, vegan and carnivore), showers and changing facilities at the Steyning Grammar School HQ, you can’t go wrong. It would be tough in bad weather, and glorious in good weather. Just don’t stay at the Castle Inn.




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