Berkhamsted gym-owner wants to put extreme racing on the map

Cliff King
Cliff King

A running enthusiast who has launched two new ‘ultra-marathons’ wants to help raise the profile of the sport.

The ‘ultra-marathon’ is any race where the distance is longer than the established 26.2-mile marathon distance. Cliff King has now taken part in several ‘ultras’, as they are colloquially known.

The races can go on for hundreds of miles and last several days – and Cliff, who owns gym The Health Hub in Berkhamsted, says they receive little publicity.

The 85-mile Ridgeway Challenge will begin at Ivinghoe Beacon on Saturday, August 24, and finish at Avebury in Wiltshire – but few non-runners know about it.

The 145-mile Grand Union Canal Race passed through Berkhamsted in May and the 250-mile Thames Ring 2013 came through the town last month.

Cliff’s new 55-mile race the Trail of Herts will begin at Berkhamsted Cricket Club on Saturday, September 21. He also hopes to launch a 130-mile race around the Chiltern Way footpath next year.

He said: “That’s five big races going through Berkhamsted, and not a lot of people know about them.”

It may seem hard to understand why anybody would want to run an ultra-marathon.

But Cliff said: “It is a fast-growing sport. It is exhilarating. You see amazing scenery. There is a great fraternity in the ultra-running world.

“It is very inspiring and it’s great to tell your friends and have a bit of a show-off about how you achieved it.”

He has just launched the company Run Wild to give people training on how to become better runners, and its website will soon be launched.

Run Wild hosts running holidays to Ethiopia as well as at closer to home locations like Town Farm Campsite, near Ivinghoe Beacon.

Cliff will launch another company called Team King in September to offer specialist triathlon coaching. He says three members of Team GB will be part of Team King.

That firm will offer swimming, running and cycling training in partnership with sports centre management firm Sportspace.