Hundreds line up for one of the UK’s toughest marathons

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The Beachy Head Marathon takes place tomorrow with hundreds of runners gearing up to tackle what has established itself as one of the most gruelling races in the UK.

Starting at 9am from the front of St Bede’s School, the 26.2mile race takes in the sights – and challenges – of the picturesque local countryside and has become popular with athletes from all four corners of the globe.

In fact, such is the reputation of the annual event, slots on the race were snapped up in record time, meaning crowds will have plenty of runners to cheer on.

Road closures will restrict the crowds in some stretches of the route, although an official viewing site has been set up in Seven Sisters Country Park, with plenty of parking and refreshments on offer, while the course also takes the competitors through a host of East Sussex villages, including West Dean, Jevington and Alfriston, which should also provide ample vantage points.

Jevington and Litlington however have struggled to cope with the influx of well-wishers in the past so will have road closures in operation.

Taking a lead from the hugely successful London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, organisers have recruited a small army of Games Makers, who have volunteers to be on hand to help make sure the event runs smoothly.

The top athletes are expected back at the start / finish line from around midday, after last year’s winner, speedy Steve Nimmo, clocked an impressive time of three hours and two minutes.

Susie Casebourne was the leading lady last time, finishing in three hours and 36 minutes, although with a less than perfect weather forecast for the weekend conditions will likely be far from ideal for the leading runners.

Since 2002, more than £45,000 has been donated to the local charities who have helped with the marshalling, first aid and safety provision at the event.

More than £40,000 has been raised each year for charities through sponsorship alone.

For more information about the marathon visit the website www.beachyheadmarathon.org.uk.