HUNDREDS of runners from across the UK will this weekend test themselves against 30 miles of the Vale of Glamorgan coast while competing in Run, Walk, Crawl’s first ever ultra-marathon in the county.

The course takes in a stunning route incorporating a total of 19 beaches, including the popular Whitmore Bay in Barry and the dramatic cliff top scenery at Southerndown.

340 runners will run either the full 30 miles or a shortened course of 18 miles on Saturday (April 11) and will compete not only against each other but also against the clock as they attempt to finish the ultra-marathon within a set time. Those running the 30 mile race will need to maintain a running/walking pace of 3mph and finish within 10 hours, those running the short course will need to complete within 8.5 hours.

Demand to participate in the first race of this kind in the Vale was such that entry tickets have sold out and a waiting list has been established for those hopeful of gaining a place at the last minute.

Ben Morris, Run, Walk, Crawl director and a seasoned ultra-marathon runner himself having previously run the Lakeland 100 mile race in 27 hours, explained the challenge that entrants will face: “Obviously the point of any race is to get from one end to the other, which sounds very simple, but it takes a lot of training, fortitude and stamina to run these distances within the allotted time. The competitors will need to just keep going, whether that’s running, walking or crawling, and good on them for trying in the first place.”

As participants run, walk or crawl past manned checkpoints volunteers will be on hand to hand-out water, tea & coffee, sweets, and nuts to help them along their way. The most important role in keeping the runners moving will be played by supporters, who are expected to line sections of the route and will be cheering hard to recharge any tired legs and lift any flagging spirits.

Sponsorship for each of the checkpoints was arranged in part by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Creative Rural Communities team. The organisation has recently launched a series of guides to walking routes along the heritage coast and CRC’s Principal Rural Regeneration Officer, Phil Chappell, is encouraging people to use the event as an opportunity to get out and see parts of the Vale’s coastline that they may not be familiar with.

Phil said: “The route showcases the beauty of Vale of Glamorgan Heritage Coastline and as the weather is forecast to be very pleasant I’d urge people to come along and support the competitors – why not even bring a picnic and make a day of it?”

Phil added: “It is a pleasure to support events like these on behalf of the Vale of Glamorgan Council as they support the local economy by attracting visitors to the area.”

For their efforts, each competitor will receive a goody bag, filled with sponsors’ products, a race t-shirt and a medal. The male and female winners will each receive a specially designed Vale of Glamorgan coastline themed trophy, from Penarth based artist Anne Morgan. And, of course, the challenge to come back the following year and finish the race faster!