Enjoy the history and hills of West Dorset as you run from one ancient hillfort to another in our 35 mile running event. It’s not flat with approximately 1,300m of ascent, but it is exceedingly pretty – which is good as there will be plenty of cake to keep you going.
We offer a Coronavirus Guarantee so you can enter with peace of mind (see T&Cs).
Starting in the pretty Dorset village of Cattistock, the route takes you up hill to Eggardon Hillfort (10km / 6.2 miles), with its fantastic views over the Marshwood Vale and Lyme Bay. This will be the first Cake Stop. As well as filling you up with goodies we use these to check you are safely through, provide you with water and stuff some cake into your hand. You will need to ensure that we check off your number here, even if you don’t stop for fuel. If you’re running in the team event these are where the handover points are too.
Plunging down from Eggardon you then climb up to cross – with the greatest of care - the Bridport road and pass another fort (15 km / 9.3 miles) on the way. Enjoy the mud of the now-infamous 'Cow Lane'. It’s then down again and up to Abbotsbury Castle at approximately half marathon distance (22 km / 13.6 miles) with its splendiferous views of the sea and Portland Bill, with St Catherine’s chapel in the foreground (perhaps one of the most famous views on the Jurassic Coast).
From here we have put in an easy section (I must be getting soft) along the ridge following the inland route of the South West Coast Path, again with great views out to sea. Hardy Monument (28 km / 17.5 miles) is not a full Cake Stop but a drinks station and is soon passed, after which there is a long gentle downhill section to Maiden Castle (36 km / 22.5 miles). As well as cake there will be sandwiches here.
The next section has a few small lumps before (after another drinks stop at 42 km / 26 miles) you tackle the gentle but rising ridge up the ridge between Sydling St Nicholas and Maiden Newton, from whence you descend past Castle Hill into Cattistock and your triumphal arrival at the finish. (57 km / 35.6 miles).
The route is all on public rights of way with a small amount on quiet roads. The majority of the route (85%) is off road on old turf and on tracks, which may or may not be uneven, muddy or hard-baked. There are a couple of busy road crossings, but no running along busy roads. All runners must ensure that gates are closed behind them, even if another runner is just behind you. Failure to close gates may lead to disqualification. Abiding by The Countryside Code is an integral part of our terms and conditions.
There are two intermediate timing points at approximately half and full marathon distance.
- - GPX files will be available.
- - Maps and turn-by-turn notes will be available for each section.
- - Marshalls will be positioned on busy crossings (but it is still your responsibility to cross only when it is safe).
Equipment (this bit is serious so please take note):
This event is not only a test of stamina. You should also have a degree of self-sufficiency. Cake Stops and those places mentioned in the route description will have water and food and there will be a doctor at one of the later controls to asses you if you are, or appear, to be having trouble. However you need to have the following minimum kit on you:
- - Emergency Mars Bar or similar
- - Charged mobile phone with data and wifi turned off to preserve battery life
- - Waterproof jacket & hat
- - Water bottle / Camelback (we do not provide plastic bottles or cups, you will be filling your own receptacles at the intermediate points)
- - A sense of humour. There will be times you feel cream crackered and will wonder why you’re not sitting in a pub beer garden on such a lovely day. Most people will have a dark moment or two. Push on and you will come out the other end and it will get better, but it’s easier if you can laugh about it. Mental strength is as important as physical strength in long distance events.
- - All of the above should fit into what our American cousins call a fanny pack / dedicated endurance racepack – apart from your humungous sense of humour which will be on display for everyone to enjoy.
Aid stations aka Cake Stops:
There are 8 intermediate stations on the route. There will be cut-off times based on a 10 hour finish.
Water & squash (excellent as it takes away the boring taste of tepid water) are available at all controls. You must fill up your own drinks container at each station.
Cake and flapjack etc are available at each control. Gluten free and vegan versions will also be on hand but these are reserved for those who alert us to their dietary requirements in advance. At the Maiden Castle control there will also be sandwiches.
You should bring your own tried and tested sports gels etc as we cannot cater for all brands and you should not try something new on an event like this.
Can number from 2 to 4 people. Changeovers must occur at one of our official Control Points but it is up to you as a team to decide who runs which legs and how many legs they run. All team captains will be asked to fill in a schedule in advance saying who is running which leg and giving the runner's contact number. Only one team member may run each leg: each team member must complete 1 leg but there is no maximum number of legs that each team member must complete. Team members' legs do not need to be consecutive.
In its simplest arrangement, 4 runners would complete 2 consecutive legs each, making each runner's effort equal 8 - 10 miles.
Leg 1: 6.25 miles
Leg 2: 3.2 miles
Leg 3: 4.3 miles
Leg 4: 3.75 miles
Leg 5: 5 miles
Leg 6: 3.75 miles
Leg 7: 6.25 miles
Leg 8: 3.2 miles
Start and Finish:
There is on-street parking near the start and finish. Tea and coffee are available at both, plus something to eat at the finish. You should ensure you have eaten an adequate breakfast before starting. There will be two start times with slower runners welcome to begin at 7.30 am and faster ones at 8 am. Please gauge your effort and select the correct start time for your ability – it will make the event more fun as you will have more support from other runners for more of the day. Placings will be done on times, not finishing position.
The event cut off time will be calculated on a 10 hour finish for the 7.30 am start. If you are concerned about the cut-off time you should ensure you start in the first wave. This will ensure that the event can be completed entirely in the light.
Runner feedback (2020):
'By far the best event I’ve done this year. Great marshals all around the course and lots of friendly faces.'
'Just wanted to say I had such a fantastic time and you and the team put on a great race. Pre event the communications was just what was needed and on the day everything went really well from my view of things. I loved the course, it gave me everything I wanted from an ultra; all types of weather, flat speedy sections and lung busting climbs. Aid station folks were really spot on and did a great job.'
'It was a superb day. Thoroughly enjoyed it!'
'Big thanks to you and all the excellent, enthusiastic and probably very cold marshals. Great job and well done :-)'
'What a wonderful day yesterday running the Dorset Hillfort Ultra 35 miles. The clouds and rain didn’t put a dampener on the cheeriness of the volunteers and aid station helpers who braved the weather to come and support us. To all the volunteers and organisers, thank you so much for your kindness, it is much appreciated in these covid-times.'
'Fabulous event in the Dorset countryside. Plenty of well stocked aid stations and an all round 'Covid secure' event. A big thank you to all involved especially the aid station and road marshalls who endured the rain and wind towards the end of the day. Definitely will be back for this one.'
'Great event, thanks to all the team! Fab cake and all refreshments, lovely course, friendly marshals! Heineken don't do ultras, but if they did...'
'Cheers for your efforts today team. A great run, good route, fantastic marshalls and support crew and plenty of food at the aid stations. My only event this year and you timed it perfectly. Thanks for stopping the rain too..'
'My first ultra complete, a big thank you to all the marshalls, and a massive thanks to the cake makers especially