Gutsy runners get set for ultra action at the Ridgeway Challenge

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Ultra long-distance runners are making their final preparations ahead of the gruelling 86-mile Ridgeway Challenge, which begins on Saturday.

Competitors will have to contend with ascending a total of 9,000ft, as they make their way along a 5,000 year old track that will take them from Ivinghoe to just outside Swindon.

It is the 11th edition of a race that would be considered a long car journey, and the fiercest of those involved will be looking to topple the record time of 12 hours and 25 minutes, set by Andrew James in 2009.

The women’s record was set last year by Mary Grace Spalton, who crossed the line in 15 hours and 50 minutes, but it is not uncommon for some of the runners to spend more than 24 hours on their feet.

As a result, competitors – who begin at 10am and 12pm – will be running throughout the night as they bid to cross the finish line.

To complete such a race might seem like a young man’s challenge, but since the first staging of the race in 2004, athletes well into their 50s and beyond have tackled one of the toughest races around, and will be doing so again come Saturday.

For further information, email race director Tim Mitchell at