June 3rd 2023, will go down as a memorable day in the history of the South Downs Way 100-mile relay. After an email to the organisers, new member Timmy Gedin set up the first Brighton and Hove men’s team for the event for over a decade, promising to be competitive for the A team title.
A quick message to the B&H men showed enough responses and interest to make the venture viable. From there, the story took many twists and turns before finally, the six men of James Turner: B&H Trail Running legend, Nick Dawson: Brighton Phoenix Outcast, Zared Arasaretnam-Hale: the old codger, Kieran Barnes: the second claim saviour and Timmy Gedin and James Dicks: recent Arena80 escapees, made the start line at Beachy head with 97 miles left to run in front of them. With the administrative assistance of Alex Jago as timekeeper, navigator and professional beer taster, as well as Fiona Jamie: minibus driver extraordinaire, and Howard Bristow as leg 3 and 10, super step-in driver to get runners to the start of the very short legs.
Kieran Barnes set up the day nicely by not only beating the best time on leg 1 but leaving us less than a minute behind Phoenix and saving valuable energy for his two remaining legs by tactically letting Phoenix’s Simon Heath go on the last two steep climbs of the Seven Sisters. His handover to James Turner saw leg 2 a swift switchover, and by the start of leg 3, Brighton and Hove were several minutes ahead and never looked back. The next few legs saw nicely paced efforts from Timmy on 3, Nick on 4, Zared on 5 and Dixie on 6.
It carried on to be smooth running for everyone’s 2nd leg of the day, but the 3rd leg for each runner would always be the big test. The team were consistently just below the record pace and always pulling away from Phoenix in 2nd place. After Kieran successfully navigated himself through leg 13 without recceing it in person, the team was confident of a very quick finish.
This transpired to be the case at the start of leg 17 when the team knew the record of 10:13 could almost be achieved if Turner and Dixie jogged their last two legs, but sub10 required a monumental effort. What was witnessed next was a leg 17 that saw Turner bury himself and record an astonishing sub 50 mins and set Dixie up needing to complete the last leg in 36 mins or less to go under the 10-hour mark. As the team waited at the finish line, the minutes ticked by until, at 18:56, Dixie entered the Chilcombe Sports Ground and, to the roar of his teammates, sprinted over the finishing line with a total time of 9 hours 57 minutes and 3 seconds.
The record, held by Phoenix since 2013, hadn’t just been beaten but obliterated by over a whopping 16 minutes!
To add icing on the cake, the boys also took home the ‘Cooper Cup’, awarded to the team with the best age grading, with an astonishing 93.34%!
Kipchoge had his ‘breaking2’, and B&H now have their ‘breaking10’!