Is the route well sign-posted?
It is, but we strongly recommend downloading the GPX of the route which will be available to download prior to race day. The official path signage of the red poppy's is good, but can become obstructed, damaged or weathered. It is also important to remember that electric devices can and do fail, particularly in bad weather so we strongly recommend a backup method of navigation, for example OS maps or detailed printouts of the route. The Essex Way is a well known path, so there is lots of route information online to utilise. Click here for further route info.
Why a 9.00pm start?
Aside from adding to the challenge of the event, an evening start is favourable for a number of reasons. It gets the night section out of the way early on while legs are still fresh, leaving the full Saturday ahead to finish. It also means that all runners, from the exceptionally speedy to those surfing the cut-offs, will finish when the trains are still running and in good time to get home for a good nights sleep after the event.
Can my friends and family track me?
Yes. All competitors will carry a GPS tracking device from the excellent team at Open Tracking. This means that friends and family can track your progress in real time through the highly addictive ultra-marathon fan past time of dot watching. It also enables the race team to know exactly where everybody is.
Can I leave my car at the start/finish?
There is plenty of off-street parking around Harwich. Epping is likely to be more tricky for parking. To lower the environmental impact of the race, we hope that as many people as possible will utilise the excellent rail links at the start and finish of the race.
Saturday rail services from Harwich Town to London Liverpool Street are hourly and take approximately 1 hour 25 minutes.
Can we run as a relay team?
Unfortunetly not. The event is for solo attempts only.
Can I have a drop bag?
Yes. Drop bags will be transported from registration to the midway checkpoint so you can access fresh socks, preferred nutrition, your favourite teddy etc. Please don't go overboard here and keep your drop bag to a max of 25 litres. Be aware that drop bags can eat time very easily - the more you pack the more you faff! Drop bags will be transported to the finish line after use at CP3.
Are there cut-off times?
Yes. In order to complete the route in the allotted 24 hours requires an overall average pace of approximately 3.4 miles per hour. Details of the checkpoint cut-off times can be found here. Runners who do not make the cut-off times will not be allowed to continue. It may sound brutal but it is necessary for the safe running of the event.
What about sustainability?
Runners are required to carry a rigid cup for hot and cold drinks at checkpoints. Due to the nature of the course starting and finishing at rail stations, we strongly encourage competitors to leave the car at home and travel to and from the race via public transport. If you do need to drive, car sharing is encouraged, but we recognise that over a race of this distance runners will finish at different times so this may not always be possible.
The trail is special and needs to be looked after. Anybody seen dropping litter of any kind will be immediately disqualified. We know that 99% of trail runners love and respect the trails they run. Don’t be the 1%.
Race numbers are printed on Tyvec, which is recyclable in the curbide HDPE stream.
Where possible, food at checkpoints will be packaging free. Any unused food that does come in packaging will be donated to our local foodbank in Manningtree after the event.
What are the entry requirements?
We strongly recommend that you complete a trail race or run of at least 31 miles (50 kilometers) in length prior to entering the event. If you have not (or do not plan to), please ensure that you are confident enough in your own ability and endurance experience to attempt an event of 82 miles in length. For safety reasons, you will be required to evidence your 50km race result or relevant running experience at the point of entry.
A portion of the race will be run at night therefore it is strongly encouraged that competitors have experience of trail running in the dark. If you are in any doubt whether you meet the entry requirements, please email us. It is important to plan and pay careful attention to appropriate training, race pace and nutrition strategies well in advance of the event.
What are the risks on route?
Animals in the shape of cows, foxes, deer, rabbits, horses, ponies etc should be expected on the route. It goes without saying that any living thing should be respected. Do not veer off the route unless there is good reason to do so. The nature of the route as a public right of way means that it passes through and close to private property and farmland. All of us have a responsibility to respect those who live and work on the route and their fences, property and boundaries. It is extremely important to always close gates behind you. Do not rely on another runner to do this for you. Noise should be kept to a minimum, particularly at night.
All parts of the route are likely to be used by members of the general public and we have no more right to be there than they do. Please be respectful to other people enjoying the Essex Way (and of course encourage them to give ultra running a try)!
There are multiple road crossings and also a rail crossing. These should be treated with the utmost of caution and are not the places to try to gain an advantage over another runner. When fatigued or at night, concentration can lapse and extreme care needs to be taken to ensure you act safely. We strongly recommend familiarising yourself with these aspects of the course.
What if I drop out during the race?
If you need to drop out you should aim to do so at a checkpoint. If the situation is more serious and you are unable to get to a checkpoint, the race director should be contacted at the earliest opportunity via the number given at registration. We will of course help where we can, but we cannot be everywhere, and as such we cannot commit to collecting runners from outside of checkpoint locations.
If you do decide that you are not going to continue, it is extremely important from a safety perspective that your tracker device is handed back to us and that we know you are no longer out on the course.
Can I have my own crew or have a pacer?
No, the race is a solo endeavor. Of course, you are welcome to run with other race entrants during the race, should you choose to buddy-up. Friends and family are welcome to follow you throughout the race, but please ensure that they do not obstruct the checkpoint areas and finish. Please also ensure that they will not be a nuisance to any residential areas and respect private property. Please be aware of noise at all times, particularly at night. The future running of the event depends upon it!
Can I run with my dog?
Afraid not. The race is run in accordance with UKA rules whereby running with a dog is not allowed.
What if there is an emergency?
In a medical emergency you should dial 999. There will be race medics on the course, but they may not be close by or could be dealing with another incident and so may take some time to reach you. The race director should be contacted as soon as it is safe to do so on the number provided in the race briefing. It is expected that runners will look after each other and nobody will be penalised from a time/cut-off perspective for stopping to help a fellow runner in need.
Is the whole route stunning?
Well, yes. But any route of 82 miles will have a couple of not so glamorous sections. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a particular highlight to look out for is a small scaffolding yard at circa 57 miles.
I’m worried about running in the dark.
Running in the dark in the countryside is a thrilling, sense-heightening experience which all adds to the adventure, but it can feel a bit scary if you are not used to it. In the build up to the race, aim to get out during night time hours with your headtorch to get a feel for it and tune in to what you can expect. During the event, you could look to buddy-up with a fellow entrant for the night time section so that you have some company.
What can I expect at the checkpoints?
You can expect plenty of smiles and encouragement and the usual ultra treats of crisps, fruit, bars, sweets etc. along with water, coke, squash and hot water for tea/coffee, as detailed below. Sanitary products will be available.
Please let us know of any dietary requirements at the time of entering so that we can try to accommodate for everyone's needs. However, if you do have special dietary requirements, please ensure that you are adequately prepared with food options that you know work for you, as we may not always get it right or be able to offer exactly what you are looking for at the checkpoints.
It is important to note that the checkpoints should be viewed as 'top ups' for your nutrition during the event and should not be used as your only source of food/water. Always carry enough of what you know works for you and remember that there will be significant distances between the checkpoints. For checkpoint locations and info, click here.
What can I expect at the finish?
Somewhere warm to rest and wash down a bit along with some hot food and drink. Toilets, showers and changing facilities will also be available (you'll need to bring a towel etc).
Can I pop into shops/cafes on route?
Yes. The route directly passes various shops and pubs etc. Should you wish to utilise these in addition to the official checkpoints, you are welcome to. But be sure not to waste time browsing the seasonal aisle, as the clock will be ticking! And remember you are representing the event and the ultra running community!
What happens if I can no longer race?
We of course understand that injuries occur and plans can change. Prior to the race, we offer the following terms:
(Minus 4% processing fee paid to Entry Central)
Withdrawal up to 12 weeks out, so up to and including Friday 12th April 2024: 50% refund.
Withdrawal up to 8 weeks out, so up to and including Friday 10th May 2024: 25% refund.
If your entry is affected by pregnancy, miscarriage or adoption, please contact us
Please see our full terms and conditions of entry here
Is there a mandatory kit list?
Yes. For an event of this length and particularly one that involves running through the night, it is essential that the minimum kit requirements are met. These will be checked at registration anybody not carrying the mandatory kit will not receive their race number. Random checks may also take place during the event and if any mandatory kit items cannot be produced you may not be allowed to continue the race. Mandatory kit is there for your safety! Click here for the kit list.
What do I get for completing the race?
An original and iconic Essex Way route marker medal & buff. There will be trophies for the overall male and female winners and the 1st male & female vets.
Everyone is welcome at EWU. Repeat, everyone is welcome at EWU. Please be aware that the race is governed by UKA policy regarding transgender athletes and the awarding of category prizes.