The Steyning Stinger

Wednesday 31st May 2023

Donald Maclellan reports on his first experience of the Steyning Stinger...

The Steyning Stinger is a long standing trail race organised by Steyning AC and features 3 distances, a half marathon, a full marathon and this year a 30k event was added. The nature of this race is hinted at in the title; thankfully you don’t have to run through a field of nettles but the prevalence of hills means it might just sting!  

I hadn’t run this event before but when it came to a toss up between doing the Brighton half or saving myself for this a week later, there was going to be no contest. I opted for the half distance since I hadn’t built up too much of a stinging tolerance to go any further though it’s actually slightly longer than a half marathon coming in at 13.7m.

It’s a unique event in that the start is rolling and although there are guide time windows for each distance it does not appear to be hard and fast. However, being a stinger newbie, and one to abide by the rules, I set off at the start of my 08.30 -0900 window. There were people already on the course so you are rarely alone but given the 3 events are going at the same time it’s difficult to know where you are in the event standings. Not ideal if you like to be pushed along by racing against others but perfect if you love the freedom of running your race solo.

The half marathon heads from the village of Steyning, into the Wiston estate, includes sections of the South Downs way including a good chunk of the first half of Leg 9 of the SDWR and traverses Chantonbury ring before descending back down towards Steyning. There are no shortage of challenging ups and fun-filled downs and great scenery should you care to look! The course is so well guided and supported by Steyning AC Marshalls that going off track is never a concern.

The finish, like the start is slightly underwhelming in that you run through the gantry like you set off with no more than the time keeper, and the odd Marshall and runner milling around but this event isn’t about that.  It’s for those who love the pure simplicity of running over the country and are perhaps not averse to a little bit of sting!