The Jog Shop 20
The South Downs' Original 20 Mile Off-Road Run
For 25 years the Jog Shop Jog has been at the heart of South Coast running community. Now known as the Jog Shop 20, this classic race is a proper test of off-road running with 90% of the course on the undulating paths and trails of the South Downs. During the rich history of the race, course features have gained legendary status: The Snake, The Big W, The Yellow Brick Road and Death Valley. All give a clue to the challenge the Jog Shop 20 presents.
There'll be prizes for age-category winners and a finishers medal for everyone. Four drinks stations will keep runners hydrated, and the route will be fully signposted.
The Jog Shop 20 takes place on the 25th March 2018 and starts at
Brighton Marina. It gets the season off to a flying start and is the perfect sharpener for runners planning a spring marathon.
With race features like Death Valley, The Snake and The Big W, you’d think that the Jog Shop 20 takes place in the Wild West rather than the gentle hills of the South Downs National Park. However, as anyone who has completed the race will testify, the hills are not as easy as they look.
The route covers just over twenty miles with 90% off-road and includes some gates and stiles.
The race starts in the ASDA Car Park in Brighton Marina then climbs up to the cliff top via the zig-zag path. It heads east towards Rottingdean along the grass verge before dropping down to the undercliff for a few hundred metres before crossing the coast road by the first tunnel.
Heading inland, the next stop is the first water station at Saltdean. At the north end, the race moves off-road at the football club with a right turn up Pickers Hill to the top of the Downs - a tough hill with the 5-mile point halfway up.
On top of the Downs, it’s right, left, then across the beautiful rolling grassland before dropping down to climb The North Face. This ascent is short and steep with the second water station on the top of Mill Hill, Rodmell.
The course then picks up the South Downs Way, left through the twitten path and on to the Yellow Brick Road; an uphill mile and a half of concrete - a remnant of the Second World War. At the top, spectacular views across the South Downs and Lewes await. Here race legend suggests the meaning of life can be found.
A quick right then left along the escarpment of the Downs to the first descent of the infamous Big W to Swanborough. Here it’s left, and back up to the South Downs Way - the race 10mile mark is at the top. Following the escarpment, the second descent is towards Kingston and the third feed station. There’s a sharp left before the route climbs back up to the top.
The race continues along the South Downs Way past the dew pond and reservoir before turning left at Castle Hill Nature Reserve. It then drops down to Death Valley, a mercifully flat stretch bringing temporary respite from the climbs. Next is the derelict village of Balsdean, flattened by target practice during the war, then The Snake, a two-mile grassy track leading back up to the top again.
Next, it’s a hairpin left through the back of Woodingdean to another reservoir, then down the pumping station service road to Rottingdean. The road is crossed at the crossing before the ascent of the windmill hill to St Dunstan's Home for the Blind at Ovingdean. It just remains to pass through the tunnel to the clifftop and back to Brighton Marina, finishing at the bottom of the zig-zag.
Please see the course map and elevation images below. The course is also available on www.gmap-pedometer.com.
Myth and Legend
The Jog Shop 20 has its origins back in the 1970's, when local running legends Sam Lambourne, Steve Fortune and Alex Ace Angeli realised that track workouts wouldn't be enough to get them through the rigours of a full marathon. With a copy of the South Downs Ordnance Survey map in hand, they headed out to create a long, challenging route over the Downs. The original marathon preparation route took in many of the features of today's course, and, to a large extent, remains unchanged to this day.
As the training route strayed far from human habitation, there were few named landmarks, so the group decided to give the memorable sections names of their own. The first section to be named was The Yellow Brick Road when Steve Fortune burst into song halfway along this aptly-named oddity. Names for the other landmarks followed soon after.
The race began officially in 1992 as the Jog Shop Jog. Andy Wright undertook the daunting task of measuring the route, taking him 9 hours to cover the entire route by wheel. The course came out at 20 miles, 420 yards.
In 1995, the Belgian Marc De Belder completed the race, writing a humorous account of his adventures.
Entries can be made in person at The Jog Shop, 39 George St, Brighton BN2 1RJ or online by going to www.eventrac.co.uk