We have tried to post answers to some of the most likely questions here - but if it's not covered here the best way of asking is probably to visit our Facebook page;

When can I enter ?
We have adopted an entry system which gives preference to the previous year's finishers - they get the right to keep their race number, and also get guaranteed entry until December 10th. Entry will be available to everyone again on 15th December, at which point last year's finishers will also lose their number and the guaranteed place. The race could sell out before Christmas, so make sure you diary it !

What time does it start ? Where from ?
The race will start at 9am on the first Sunday in June in Nayland which is on the Essex / Suffolk border about 10 minutes from Colchester. The start is at Nayland Village Hall - please note that is NOT NOT NOT the same place as Stoke by Nayland ! Full details will be sent to all runners approx 2 weeks before the race, and the website will be updated frequently. Free parking will be at the Village Hall.

Will I get a medal ? Anything else ?
You will get a custom designed medal which will definitely stand out from the other bling hanging on the wall - this may be a small, low profile event but the medal will be substantial...... There is a family link to the original horseshoe which 2014 runners received. You will also get drink and a variety of snacks during the race and a decent meal at the finish.
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I've never done an event like this before - will I get lost ?
No, probably not. We have included a great amount of detail in the 'narrative' instructions but, to be honest, you won't need most of it. You will NOT be looking for ordinary footpath signs hidden in hedges - The Stour Valley Path, St Edmund Way and The Essex Way are all national trails which have their own special coloured signs (see the photos on this website) and are easy to follow. You can rely on these without referring to the notes for most of the time - we have highlighted in red the few places where you leave a national trail. We will also use large red arrows at spots where assistance might be useful. These events are common and popular - just relax and enjoy the views.

We have also run the route using Garmin GPS tracking many times and those GPS tracks are available free on this site. If you have a suitable GPS watch, smartphone or other GPS device you could download the route and follow that, or use it as backup.

Also, only the fastest runners will be completely alone. In some places you will be able to see runners a mile ahead of you, which may help your confidence. However, be careful - they may not be part of the event !

I don't drive - how do I get there ?
The best train option is Colchester - there is a branch line to Bures and Sudbury but its not well served, so Colchester makes more sense. Many runners driving will come right past the station, so asking for lifts via our Facebook page may work - I suggest leaving that until a few weeks prior to the race. Alternatively, you could get - and ideally share - a cab from Colchester station - the Facebook page would again be the best means of doing that.

I did London in 4 hours, so what time should I aim for ?
Forget the time. Trail marathons are unique - they are usually hillier, with steps, stiles and tight twists and turns and the times really can't be compared with flat road marathons. You will also probably stop for a few minutes at water stops and snack along the way. Its really not about time, but if you want a guide I would add 15-25% to your road marathon time.

The cut-off time of 7 hrs is generous, but we need to be able to release volunteers after a long day. There is a bridge at approx 14 miles which is near the start and we will ask anyone who takes longer than 3hrs 20m to withdraw there as you will not complete the course in 7hrs. There will be a sweeper running at the back of the field - don't worry if he is running with you as it does not mean you are too slow, he is there to release the volunteers from the checkpoints and perhaps provide some encouragement too.

I'm fast - will there be a crush at the first stile ?
We start in the village and quickly enter a long country lane. There is nearly a mile for everyone to establish their pace before you hit the first narrow section. This lane is called Gravel Hill for a reason - do not race up this unless you know what you are doing !

What about traffic / road sections ?
There are a number of road sections, nearly all on very quiet country roads - you may not even see a car. However, please keep to the side, especially near bends, and wear bright clothing so you can be spotted easily. At about 14 miles and again at 26 miles you will be crossing the A134 - this is not usually a busy road but there is a straight downhill stretch in both directions and cars could be travelling at 60mph. There is a good view in both directions and a large traffic island, but take care - you very definitely do NOT have priority. REMEMBER your legs may not be responding as quickly as usual - do not take any risks.

Should I wear trail shoes ?
In June we would expect the surface to be a mixture of hard packed earth and some gravel tracks. There are also concrete tracks and road sections. We would expect road shoes to be fine, but so would light trail shoes. Spikes or studs are not suitable.

I see there might be bulls on the route. What's the plan ?
There are two fields which do occasionally hold bulls. The farmers seem to leave the signs out all year, so seeing a sign won't prove anything. I have run this route countless times, at all times of the year - and quite often with a dog, which can make things worse because cattle are both curious and protective. The dog has no interest in cattle whatsoever. In all this time, I have only twice taken a detour and in both cases that was because the bull and his harem were very closely packed around the stile and wouldn't move. The risk wasn't being chased - it was trying to quite literally force your way through several tonnes of mobile meat. In one case I went a bit further up the road and used a different footpath, and in the other I just jumped over a gate further along the field to skip the stile. We will be doing a field check in the weeks before the race and will keep runners informed.

It is legal for farmers to keep dairy breed bulls on public footpaths as long as they are with cows and they post a sign. Frisky young cattle can actually be more intimidating but we will provide advice at the briefing if necessary.

What about water stops, food, etc ? June could be hot ?
Subject to necessary permissions CP1 will be at 5 miles, CP2 9.5, CP3 at 14.5m and CP4 at 20m. CP1 will only have water but the others will have snacks. We will arrange additional water drops - usually at 18 miles and 25 miles - where you will help yourself from large bottles. We very strongly recommend that you carry a bottle or bladder which you can drink from between checkpoints.

Trail marathons expect more self sufficiency than a big city road marathon. You will also pass a few country pubs if you need external help. You will also be crossing rivers and streams full of water - at your own risk !

And what about the start / finish ? Showers, changing ?
There is space to change at the village hall if needed and we have basic shower facilities. We will be supplying post-race food, and you could then stroll about 3 minutes to the Anchor for a pint. Tea and coffee will be available - donations to the kitchen team's chosen charity would be appreciated.

What about medical cover etc ?
A small event like this can't finance dedicated medical support. You should already be an experienced runner, capable of running this distance. Obviously accidents can happen and the quickest way of accessing qualified help will always be to dial 999 - we require that all runners carry a mobile phone for this reason. We may be able to assist with more minor issues ( we do have a number of qualified first aiders involved) and may be able to offer a lift when required but we cannot guarantee that with the limited resources available, so the ability to phone a friend or a taxi in a less pressing crisis would still be really useful.

Is this a charity run ? Or can I raise funds for my own choice of charity ?
We are working with Suffolk Wildlife Trust to raise funds for the purchase of additional land near the race route and a donation will be made from the race proceeds. Proceeds will also be shared with SOS Children, which supports orphaned and abandoned children in developing countries. You are very welcome to raise funds for a charity of your own choice if you wish. The kitchen team (all unpaid volunteers) will also have charity boxes for loose change - this will be a charity of their choice so a donation for the tea and coffee would be appreciated.

Is this an 'official' race ?
We have been granted a permit by the Trail Running Association, which is affiliated to UK Athletics. The event is also listed by the 100 Marathon Club and complies with their requirements. Results are posted on RunBritain / Powerof10 so should automatically link to club runners' profiles. It is organised under the auspices of a local trail running club - Mid Essex Casuals. If you want comparisons, it would be somewhat similar to a LDWA event, or the Cold Christmas to Good Easter marathon, although far easier to navigate and hopefully in much better weather.