After a long lockdown wait, and postponement from its original date in February 2021, it was great to finally welcome the ‘new kid on the block’ to the Freedom Racing calendar 2021, the North Down’s Ridge 50km. Originally billed as a winter race along the North Down’s Way and Surrey Wildlife Trust reserve at Norbury Park, COVID restrictions meant race day was postponed to May 1st this year.
The new date suited the route extremely well. Leaving Denbies Wine Estate on the edge of Dorking runners were very quickly greeted by beautiful luscious green woodland trails running along the ridgeline of hills that overlook the Surrey Hills. The ground was dry, trails compact, runnable and easy to navigate, and boy did the sun shine! You could almost be forgiven to think summertime had arrived early in Surrey!
With the woodlands springing into life all around, step by step runners were treated to wonderful woodland scenery, which every so often broke to reveal wide open expanses of rolling downs and stunning views across the lush green valley below to the Surrey Hills in the distance.
Staying high on the ridgeline runners pass through Ranmore Common, White Downs, Dunley Woods and Netley Heath before reaching the famous Newlands Corner and the expansive Albury Downs. The route then climbs to the beautiful St Martha’s Church before reaching the turnaround point on the edge of Guildford and returning by the same route to the edge of Denbies Wine Estate. Once back to the edges of Denbies runners then loop through the Surrey Wildlife Trust Reserve woodland of Norbury Park before returning through the vineyards of Denbies to cross the finish line.
With just 2986 ft of ascent across the entire route, this is a fast runnable race on well defined and well marked trails, ideal for those new to Ultras through to those chasing quick finish times. If you like flat well made trails, love the variety of being surrounded by woodlands one minute and then suddenly presented with wide open expanse and stunning views the next, then this race is most definitely made of the right stuff for you!
This was an epic first outing for Freedom Racing’s newest race route, the weather couldn’t have been kinder, and all taking part couldn’t have been happier to be out racing once again. The course record has been set by Paul O’Sullivan at 03:40:30, a super quick time for 50km! And so to all you budding North Downs Ridge 50km runners out there, let’s try it again next year and see if Paul’s record is smashed or manages to remains hanging tough!