Podium Round-Up – Race to the King 2024

Race News

We’re fresh off the back of an incredible weekend at West Dean Gardens for Race to the King 2024.

Participants this year dealt with some challenging conditions, with heavy rain early on Saturday morning resulting in a wet start to the race. But the rain soon abated, and whilst it remained windy throughout, conditions were generally good, with the odd shower popping up here and there.

Though it’s always been based in the heart of South Downs National Park, Race to the King’s route has evolved over the years. Initially a 52-mile double marathon, in 2022 we made the decision to bring the distances on offer at the event into alignment with the 50km/100km format of Race to the Stones, modifying the route in the process.

2024 was therefore the third year Race to the King took place in its current format, a ‘figure of eight’ made up of two 50km loops – the flat and fast Coastal Loop through Chichester Harbour and the hilly, slower-going Castle Loop across the South Downs. The two loops are also run as stand-alone 50k events.

This year also saw the introduction of a new format for Race to the King. In previous years, the two 50k loops that make up the 100k were run on Saturday and Sunday respectively, with some participants opting to run both over the course of the weekend. This year, however, both 50ks ran simultaneously alongside the full non-stop 100k event. 

The result was that, from around 11am on Saturday, we were treated to a more or less non-stop spectacle of triumphant finishes, with runners and walkers approaching the finish line from two directions. Here’s a breakdown of how the podiums panned out in each event.

Coastal 50k

Thanks to its largely flat, runnable course around Chichester Harbour and through the ancient fishing village of Bosham, the Coastal 50k really is the ideal first ultramarathon. With its mix of quiet country lanes and winding coastal trails, it doesn’t skimp on scenery, but presents first-time ultrarunners with a manageable course on which to go the distance.

These same elements that make the Coastal 50k such a great first ultra also make it a tantalising option for faster runners seeking a new PB, and we were delighted to see some particularly speedy times this year at this event.

Women’s Race

In the women’s event, Maleah Chumley crossed the line in 4:35:57, despite having gotten briefly lost along the way and retraced her steps for a mile and a half. Maleah had a strong lead over Jenna Wilkinson in second place, who finished in 4:43:58 just 100 seconds ahead of Hannah Peters in third place. Hannah was also first in the V50 age category.

In the other age categories, Lucy Ritchie was the first V40 in 5:06:39; Penelop Stainthorp first V60 in 6:27:48; and, as the only participant in her category, Jenny Challis was, by default, the first V70+, running a remarkable 7:38:11.

Men’s Race

First across the line in the men’s event was Vincent Baker, whose time of 3:47:50 was a new Course Record for the Coastal 50k by over 45 minutes. Vincent didn’t hang about, jogging over to the 100k transition zone after crossing the line to crew his older brother, Joe Baker, as he passed through the midway point of the 100k race – but more on that performance later.

Vincent was followed by Tim Davison (4:00:12 and first V40) and James Burrows (4:07:45), both very strong performances that in any other year would have won the race. In fact, 2024 was such a strong year for the Coastal 50k that the top twelve men came in under the previous course record – a sure sign of the growing popularity of this distance.

David Clarkson was the first V50 in 4:24:53; Ian Sharp first V60 in 5:45:14; and Joe Edmundson, our oldest competitor this year, was the first across the line of three V70+ men this year, running a brilliant time of 8:45:51.

Castle 50k

Hillier and rougher underfoot than the Coastal 50k, the Castle 50k event is significantly more challenging than the Coastal, and represents a great ‘next step’ for runners looking to progress within the sport. The 1000+m of elevation gain taken in along the route packs a punch, especially given the fact that much of this is squeezed into the route either side of a long stretch of flat running around Arundel Castle.

Women’s Race

Again, a testament to the growing popularity of the 50k distance, all three of our podium finishers in the women’s Castle 50k race broke the previous course record of 6:04:43. In first place was Alice Batchelor in 5:33:32, closely followed by Ellie Haines in 5:38:57. Sarah Sawyer completed the podium in 5:49:05, and was also our first V40 woman.

For the other age categories, first V50 was Jenny Barrett in 6:52:00, and Max Tuck was the first V60 in 7:51:06.

Men’s Race

The men’s Castle 50k event was led from the gun to the tape by one man: Sam Harper. Sam finished second at last year’s Race to the Stones 100k, and since then has had his eyes set firmly on the 2024 event with the singular goal of winning it. The Castle 50k event at Race to the King, coming just under a month before Race to the Stones, was an ideal B-race for Sam, who frankly made it look easy.

Sam crossed the line in 3:59:14, taking almost an hour off the previous course record and securing his goal of going under 4 hours on a challenging (and slightly long) 50k course. Truly a performance that is up there with some of the best we have ever seen at the Threshold Trail Series, and one which sets Sam up well for Race to the Stones in July. Rounding out the podium, Matt Cleaver ran a strong race to finish second in 4:53:37, a minute shy of the previous course record; and Alex Grumley finished third in 4:58:43.

Age category wins went to Ignatius Li for V40 in 5:24:36; Florian Wagner for V50 in 5:17:37; Mick Morris for the V60s in 7:54:28; and Bryan Darney, our sole V70, running a brilliant 7:42:14.


Taking in both the Coastal and Castle loops, the 100k at Race to the King is a deceptively challenging event. Its flat, runnable first half can be difficult to run conservatively, making the relentless hills of the second half all the more impactful on tired-out legs. The fact that participants pass within an arm’s reach of the finish line at the halfway point, and have the option to call it a day there, only adds to the challenge, though it also presents a unique opportunity to meet supports and access drop bags.

Women’s Race

As our 2023 Race to the Stones champion, Sophie Carter was the strong favourite going into the event, and as expected she led from the off. Passing through the halfway mark in 4:30, Sophie looked strong and determined, having built a sizeable lead which she maintained all the way to the finish line. Sophie crossed the line in 10:31:19 with her family in tow, slicing around two hours off the previous course record in an astonishing performance that we believe will stand for years to come. Sophie was also the first V40 woman.

Rounding out the women’s podium, Katy Cherry ran 11:02:00 for second place, whilst Sophie Brownlee came in third with a time of 11:55:51. This was a strong year for the women’s race, with the top five women all running inside the previous course record.

In the age categories, Mandy Leach of Runnymede Runners was our first V50 and 4th overall in 12:02:48; and ultra legend Olivia Hetreed was the first V60 in 15:33:03.

Men’s Race

Just as in the women’s event, the men’s event was dominated from the start by a single athlete. Threshold Ambassador Joe Baker went out the gate like the clappers, clocking a 3:50 split for the Coastal 50k loop before charging out into the hills. He ended up crossing the line in 9:01:54, shaving almost half an hour of Liam McIntyre’s formidable 2023 course record in a truly masterful performance. Joe was also the first V40.

Caspian James came in 9:40:42 for second place, whilst Jack Faulds ran in third with a time of 10:16:46.

Greg Warder was the first V50 in 12:32:58; the first V60 was Lee Bonfiace in 14:30:57; and V70+ David Kilby battled through a challenging night to finish in 20:25:23.

Final Finisher

Our final finisher this year was Louise Strong, who crossed the line of the 100k event in 26:05:49. Congratulations to Louise for pushing through and not giving up, and well done to every participant who toed the line at Race to the King this year, regardless of your race panned up, for taking on the challenge.

Entries Open for Next Year

Entries for the 2025 edition of Race to the King are on-sale now, with limited Early Bird packages available. Sign up now to secure your spot on the start line, and who knows? Your name could end up in this race report next year!

Event Partners
Gold Charity Partners