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St Begas Ultra

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Sunday 27th May 2018

Entries Open
Saturday 18th November 2017 at 11:00
Entries Close
Wednesday 18th April 2018 at 11:00
Entries so Far
162 Participants
Entry Fees
UKA Member: £66.00
Non-Member: £68.00
RD - Jon Raymond

SBU - St Begas Ultra, Trail Race 
Designed for new ultra-runners, loved by all... Update  - SBU Friendly Free Recce is 21/22 April. Come and join us whether you've entered this year or not. for details email

The SBU is now entering its 6th year and since holding our first event in 2013, we’ve helped hundreds of runners complete their first ultra and offered a spectacular challenge to many others. What sort of people run the SBU? People just like you. Young, old, men, women, racing snakes and the rest of us. Check our video for an idea of what you can expect, our gallery to see the quality of the discounted race photos, and last year's Facebook event for some great feedback.

What's special about the SBU is the fantastic blend of professionalism, support and friendliness that our family and friends bring to the event.

Add to that, the camaraderie of existing and new ultra runners, who every year embrace what we are trying to achieve and offer tremendous support to each other, and you have something very special indeed.

On top of all of that, we have a simply stunning route that takes you through some of the most beautiful, some of the most remote and some of the friendliest areas of the Lake District.

Whether you’re new to ultra-running, an old hand, or a long distance walker - completing the SBU is an experience you’ll look back on for many years to come. We’ve a fantastic mix of terrain, on a largely off-road route. There’s a great mix of relaxed and technical sections, with a couple of significant challenges thrown in. Putting all this in one route whilst keeping navigation simple, is another reason that the SBU has become so popular.

All aspects of the event have been carefully designed to support people tackling their first ultra distance. We’ve a superb roadbook with OS mapping and turn-by-turn instructions, first-class medical support, radio-linked checkpoints based in permanent buildings and our superb volunteer marshals and checkpoint staff, who are guaranteed to lift your spirits.

Together, we’ll give you the support to get you through to the end, where you’ll receive the warmest finish line welcome you’re likely to experience, together with a free hot meal and a cold beer.

We want the SBU to be your choice for your first ultra. We want to give you a true appreciation of what ultra-running is about. The highs, the lows, the craic, the laughs, the tears and the camaraderie, support, and guidance offered freely by other runners. (These guys are the true ambassadors of the sport.)

Encouraging people to push their limits, to run with friends old and new, in truly stunning surroundings and getting you safely to the finish line; that’s what we’re about. That’s what the SBU is about

Taking you further...

Route Summary

The SBU is an 'as tough as you want it', largely off-road 36 country* mile (approx.) ultra trail race. It’s suitable for all* runners and long distance walkers, who are willing to build their endurance to meet the demands of the event.

It follows a point-to-point route, from the heart of the Lake District to the West Coast and is based on the long distance walk, the St Begas’ Way. Runners follow the route of the legendary Irish princess, St Bega, travelling between two chapels, that both bear her name.

The Start is in the heart of the Lake District, overlooking Bass Lake near Keswick, and the Finish and race HQ is in the west coast village of St Bees, the start of Wainwright's coast to coast walk.

Between these two points, lay 36 ‘country’ miles, of some of the most varied and beautiful country the Lake District has to offer.

Route Description.

Leg 1 - From the wooded shores of Bass lake, the route climbs on forest tracks and through a break in the trees, you’ll get your first glimpse of the route ahead, and the wall of fells you’ll traverse, towering over the open valley floor. Descending steeply through woods, you cross the valley floor to the shores of Derwentwater. The route then hugs the lake shore, through more low level woodland, before finally breaking off toward Borrowdale and Checkpoint 1.

Leg 2 - Heading South, through the 'Jaws' of Borrowdale. Ahead a momentous climb is revealed, that you must ascend. After a welcome flat section to pass through Honister Slate mine and the source of our Finish line medals, the route climbs again on one of the steepest sections of track you'll have ever seen. The character of the route changes then, as runners enter the remotest section of the journey. Heading out over open fell on rough tracks and then descending, stunningly, into the uppermost end, of the secluded Ennerdale valley. There are no roads here and the only vehicle you're likely to see in this truly remote valley, is the Black Sail Youth Hostel warden's Landrover. Midway down this valley you reach Checkpoint 2, the main fuelling stop for the runners.

Leg 3 – Reaching the shore of Ennerdale Water the route again hugs the lake along its full length. Then after tracking the length of this isolated and beautiful place, the route climbs steeply once more onto gentler fells, wherein the discrete, but not to be underestimated ‘Bummers’ hill resides. At the top of this punishing climb, you reach the summit of our local fell, Dent, giving runners their first view of the sea and the welcome flat land ahead. A steep grassy and fast descent from here brings you to the final route checkpoint - Checkpoint 3

Leg 4 – Leaving this checkpoint, the finish line is just a few short miles away at the end of the St Bees valley. Here, a warm, warm welcome, awaits every runner. First, or last to cross the line, each finisher has faced their own challenges, their own mix of highs and lows and each and every one of them, is greeted by the applause they deserve..

The SBU is a journey, in every sense...


General Event Details
Whilst we've set a very generous 12 hr cutoff time for the route, we've got two stunningly fast course records that'll challenge even top-flight runners. Fastest Male 5:12:31. Fastest Women 5:49:56

Navigation is required, but simple. The course is unmarked, but all runners receive a robust, detailed and very well-received road book, featuring both OS based maps and clear turn-by-turn text. In-experienced navigators love it. You can see short video overview here (starring yours truly) and competitors can download a full version from the competitor’s area of the website. All runners receive a bound, waterproof and tear-proof copy at registration.

There is also be a full .gpx file of the route, to download, again on the competitors’ page.

All of our checkpoints are based in permanent buildings, with toilets and will be continuously staffed by marshals, qualified First Aiders and radio operators.

The race HQ and Finish line is based in the village of St Bees and it’s here that you need to come to register and have your kit checked. You are then transported in coaches from there to the start, some 36 miles away.

Every entrant receives:

  • Free hot meal at the finish line
  • Free coach travel to the start
  • Free pint of beer from our local, Ennerdale brewery. (This was a tremendous hit again last year and many a pint was supped after the event)
  • Our stunning roadbook, complete with mapping and turn-by-turn instructions
  • Access to qualified medical staff at each radio-linked checkpoint
  • A great mix of trail food. Our preference is to offer real food, rather than gels and powders
  • GPS route mapping
  • Electronic timing
  • Tea and coffee at registration with the option to register the night before the event
  • An equal chance to win one of, as many spot prizes that we can get our hands on again!

Every finisher receives (We feel that you value most, those things that you work hardest to achieve)

  • Our unique handmade finishers’ medal, taken from the very rock over which you’ll toil. These are hand-picked each year from the land owned by Honister slate mine, on the highest part of the route. Individually selected, hand-worked and unique mementoes. They take the family a lot of time to make, but we think you're worth it :)
  • A quality, race branded, date marked, Leisure or Technical tshirt. Your choice!

Safety. There will be a reasonable, minimum kit list specified (see website). This will reflect the terrain, distance and the 'on the day' conditions. 

Our aim this year is the same as last, to get each and every one of you over the entire route, safely, with the minimum of fuss and the maximum amount of satisfaction.

Race HQ/Registration is located at the Finish in the West Coastal village of St Bees. Coach transport from there to the start, will be provided. Race start 08:00. Course cut off: 12 hrs. Checkpoints/feed stations at 10, 20 and 30 miles approx. Checkpoint cut-off times are pro-rata'd by distance and will be enforced. The course is approx. 36 miles long, has 4000ft of ascent and 4500ft of descent. The route will not be signed, but an excellent, detailed, CLEAR, road book will be provided. Navigation skill level required - Low.

*Our experience and feedback from previous entrants, confirms that this route is suitable for new ultra-runners. Whilst a lot of entrants have completed marathons before moving to ultras, our experience is that this is not a pre-requisite to enjoying, and being successful at the SBU. Having said that, having a realistic expectation of your performance is essential. Be prepared to combine periods of walking with your running, don’t run the hills and make sure that in your training, you gradually build up the time you spend on your feet, until you’re confident that you can manage the time that you’ll need on race day. Experience of off road running/walking is essential and a visit to the lakes to run and recce part of the route, will make a tremendous difference.

*Country miles. Despite the advances in GPS technology, it is not yet sufficient to ensure that the distance recorded on your GPS will exactly match our declared race distance of approximately 36 miles. The declared distance of 36 miles, is taken from the average of the distances recorded by a number of GPS units, from a number of runners following the official route. We then, like to use our term ‘Country miles’ to explain the difference between your measured distance and ours. :)

Note: This event is held under UK Athletics rules. Entrants must be 21yrs or over on race-day. Minimum kit as specified on the website will be required.

Trail Running Association Permit : 1772.

Updated details and race day information will be published on our website (currently under revamp). It is important that you keep in touch for updates. We will however, email out selected information and race day instructions, so please add the domain @sientries to your email list of safe senders. Your confirmation email, generated automatically when you enter the event, will include a competitors’ area password. Use this to access the roadbook, gps and sponsor offers.

Good Luck to all!

Jon (SBU RD) and Family                       

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