Route: South Downs Way (United Kingdom)

Submitted by Tom Meldrum on Mon, 08/24/2020 - 08:53am
United Kingdom
100.5 mi
Vertical Gain
4,150 m

The South Downs Way runs the entire length of the South Downs range of hills, from Winchester in the west to the coast at Eastbourne. Large wooden signposts mark the start and end points, outside the City Mill in Winchester, and at the base of Beachy Head on the outskirts of Eastbourne


On Saturday 7th November at 4:00 am (GMT) I will be attempting a 'Supported' FKT on the South Downs Way, travelling from West to East.

I will be following the official trail as mapped by the National Trails website, from the King Alfred statue in Winchester to the furthest point East on the trail. For my own gratification, I will continue east until I reach Eastbourne Pier to make sure I have completed a full 100 miles by any measurement. This will also help make for a better comparison with the current FKT (2014 Mark Perkins 14:03:54) who ran the route as part of the yearly 'Centurion SDW100' race. In order to round up the total distance, participants of this race run laps around a grass field at the start and finish not at the edge of the South Downs but further into Eastbourne itself.

It is worth noting that there are a couple of places along the trail where a choice of two paths is given. One such place is close to Washington where I will be taking the North diversion to allow for a safer crossing of the A24 and to again make this attempt comparable with the current FKT which also took this diversion. The other obvious point where the trail dissects is at Alfriston where I will avoid taking the trail South along the chalk cliffs.

I will be wearing a live tracking device for the duration of this attempt (tracker link: and I also hope to record this as a single Strava activity using a standard GPS watch.This attempt is to be classified as 'Supported' as my partner will be providing basic food at five separate locations. 

Good luck Peter.  It will v tough to beat Mark Perkins' time!

Hi Tom, do you know if an FKT was set for the South Downs Way, not sure if Peter set one.



Ahh, I see it exists as part of the Centurion Race SDW (note to carefully).

To be fair, as impressive as the winning times have been in the Centurion SDW100 race, I’d argue they shouldn’t technically be FKT’s as the race neither starts or finishes at the proper trail ends. 

The race starts in Matterly Bowl (a few miles from the actual trail ‘start’ which is in Winchester. And the race ends at Eastbourne sports park, again not the proper finish. 

That seems fair enough, I guess the logistics of a race starting and finishing in the proper locations wouldnt be feasible due to the numbers involved.

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Hi all, I'm going to attempt a solo unsupported run on the South Downs Way this weekend. I'll start in Winchester around 11am tomorrow (Saturday 6th April 2024), hoping to make it to Eastbourne within 24 hours. I haven't set foot on any of this route before so I'm excited for an adventure!

I'll be following the GPS route from this page as closely as possible, aiming to cross the A3 by the more direct route if safe, and finishing with the more scenic coastal variant from Alfriston to Holywell. My SDW time will finish at the end of the trail in Holywell but I'll add the extra mile or two into Eastbourne to catch a train home. I'll be recording on my watch and taking regular photos but will have no capacity for live tracking. 

I'll be solo and unsupported so as per the guidelines I'll carry all my own food and kit. I'll make use of public water taps identified on, use public rubbish bins and public toilets if necessary. Safety wise the forecast is looking good (~10° overnight) and I'll carry a phone, PLB and emergency bivvy bag. 

I'm surprised to not see any FKTs posted here - surely plenty of people have run this route before? Fastest supported time appears to be the Centurion race record of 14:03:54 by Mark Perkins in 2014, though not exactly the same route ( Roger Burlison did a very impressive supported east-west walk in 27:56:05 in 2019 (, which is the only mention I can find of a record on the true route in non-race conditions.

Update: I pulled the pin at 80 km yesterday. I had a great day out and made it from Winchester to Amberley in about 11 hours. I was feeling strong but it was getting pretty gusty on the tops and I wasn't comfortable with my safety margin in terms warm layers, bail out options etc. So I called it a day, just in time for the last train back to London. 24 hours unsupported is definitely there for the taking in the right conditions, but I'm on the fence about whether I'll bother with another attempt. But I'll definitely go back and run the eastern half sometime soon.


Would new supported FKTs be able to be set, slower than the Centurion SDW100 race recprda yet following the actual SDW route? I cannot find any listed FKTs here.