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Cat Simpson and Dan Lawson win South Downs Way 2024

Cat Simpson and Dan Lawson have won the South Downs Way 2024, England, part of the Gran Canaria World Trail Majors. Making it a double victory for Great Britain.

In the last 10 years nobody has ever been a threat to Mark Perkins’ course record of 14 hours and 3 minutes for the 161 kilometres and 3.800 metres of elevation. With the perfect conditions at hand – a morning temperature of 10 degrees Celsius, an afternoon high of 18 degrees and a trail that wasn’t as muddy as British trails normally are – the question was whether Perkins would lose his record this year.

Dan Lawson won the South Downs Way 2024DNF for Chessire

Directly from the start, at 6 in the morning at Matterley Bowl, just outside of Winchester, Geoff Chessire, Rob Payne, Hugh Tibbs, Peter Windross (all Great Britain), Michael O’Neill (Ireland) and Jakob von Raumer (Germany) took off. With the hours going by, it became clear that the athletes had more eye for each other than for the course record.

Slowly Windross, Tibbs and Lawson opened a gap on Matthew Hammerton and former UTMB winner Jez Bragg, while Geoff Chessire started to have cramps in his abductors and hamstrings that got so bad, he had to drop out.

Running smart

Lawson was the first to reach Saddlescombe Farm aid station, around kilometre 107, leading Tibbs by one minute and Windross by six. A gap that in the last 54 kilometres grew bigger and bigger to almost 20 minutes at the finish line. Lawson’s 14:27:30 meant the second fastest time ever on the South Downs Way. Yet, still not even close to Perkins’ record. Yet that wasn’t what he had in mind when he started: “I wanted to be clever. I ran the 50 miles here, about 6 weeks ago, and I wasn’t clever. This time I stayed nice and easy the whole race and it worked. I never wanted to push myself. I didn’t worry about my position. Just keeping it easy. This trail for me sums up England; little villages on the way and rolling hills. People have walked here for thousands of years. You can almost feel that energy. For me, this is the best race in the UK.”

Behind Lawson Tibbs had to give it all to keep Windross behind him. He just managed; 14:46:53 versus 14:48:26, making it a complete British podium.

Three times is a charm for Cat Simpson

If Cat Simpson wanted to do better than last year (and 2016), there was only one thing she could do; win the South Downs Way 2024. That’s precisely what she did. She crossed the line in 19:26:52.

Before the race Karen Benway and Hannah Green were seen as potential winners as well. It came down to a battle between the American Benway and the British Green. Simpson was never part of that. When the kilometres started to weigh down, she pulled away from her rivals and finished almost an hour ahead of Benway, who took second place in 20:18:58. Green finished third in 20:25:19.

 

All results South Downs Way 2024

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