Kirby Jnr achieves an incredible double with 50-mile run wins

Neil Kirby Jnr after winning the North Downs Way 50 mile
Neil Kirby Jnr after winning the North Downs Way 50 mile

Eastbourne runner Neil Kirby Jnr has become the first person to achieve an incredible double.

Having triumphed in the 2016 South Downs Way 50-mile run on April 9, he also won the North Downs Way 50-mile run on May 14, becoming the first person to win both races.

Neil Kirby Jnr with South Downs Way 50 trophy.

Neil Kirby Jnr with South Downs Way 50 trophy.

Neil, aged 35, whose parents own the Langham Hotel in Royal Parade, crossed the finishing line of the South Downs Way run in 6 hours 35 minutes and the North Downs Way run in 6 hours 57 minutes.

A keen runner in his spare time, Neil now has his sights set on this year’s South Downs Way and North Downs Way 100-mile runs.

Neil describes himself as a lone wolf and does not belong to any running club.

But the achievement sort of came about by accident.

Neil Kirby Jnr after winning the North Downs Way race -renI5h4tEohdkwCX8Ep

Neil Kirby Jnr after winning the North Downs Way race -renI5h4tEohdkwCX8Ep

He said: “I didn’t have a massive intention of winning them.

“What I am doing in a couple of months is the 100-mile version of both races and so I was actually doing these two races as a bit of training and to familiarise myself with the course, but I won one and thought I might as well go for the second – and it worked out pretty well.”

Around 400-500 people take part in the 50-mile events but Neil says only 70 per cent or so finish and the rest drop out.

And he said the north one took longer because it’s hillier.

Incredibly, it hasn’t taken Neil that long to perform at this high standard.

He said: “I only started running two years and I never imagined I could finish these races. But it seems quite easy now.

“I train seven days week anywhere from two to four hours a day.

“I don’t take days off. I probably train more than I should do but I enjoy running.”

The South Downs course travels along the chalk ridgeway, starting just outside of Winchester, the capital city of Saxon England and heading due east until the trail ends in Eastbourne.

There is an overall elevation of 12,700 feet and it is 15 per cent road and 85 per cent trail.

The North Downs course travels from Farnham in the Surrey Hills to Wye in Kent. There is a total climb of 9,930 feet and overall elevation change of 20,000 feet.

This course is 20 per cent road and 80 per cent trail.

And he has set himself a tart to finish the 100 mile versions of the races.

He said: “I would hope yo do it in 16 hours, you tend to slow down once you get to 50 miles.”

The South Downs Way 100 takes place on June 11, while the North Downs Way 100 is on August 6.

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