The vast majority of teams prefer to wear hiking boots and will maintain a hiking pace for the whole of the route. A few teams will mix hiking and running and occasionally a team will run for the majority or (very rarely) the entire distance. The timings of previous events show that this has happened throughout the long history of the event.
The Downsman recognises that a small number of teams may be equipped with trail or fell running shoes and have the fitness, experience and competence required to use them. We advise that if choosing between the two types of shoe, a trail running shoe is more suited to the sections of hard surfaces found on the South Downs Way. A fell running shoe has slightly less cushioning as it is designed for use on the softer grounds of the fells. For safety reasons and given the higher physical demands of running, the following rules are now in place for teams intending to use trail or fell running shoes:
- Teams wishing to run for all or part of the route must declare this when registering to participate in the event. If you indicate your intention to run for all or part of the route, the registering Leader will be responsible for confirming that each team member will wear footwear that is suitable and appropriate – in terms of both design and condition – for the event.
- All team members must unanimously elect to wear trail or fell running shoes. This is to avoid team members becoming spread apart in consequence to the inevitable mismatched pace of wearing completely different types of footwear within the team
- The shoes are in good condition and the tread is still deep and grippy across the whole of the shoe
- All team members are competent at trail running and have vast experience with using this type of shoe i.e. their first ever pair is not a recent purchase a few days before the Downsman
- The shoes are described by the manufacture as being a trail or fell running shoe. Owners of this specialist type of footwear will have likely purchased them specifically for purpose. If you are unsure then assume that they are not trail or fell running shoes and please refrain from attempting to convince check in staff otherwise. To clarify, note that outdoor walking shoes, hiking shoes, approach shoes, trainers or any other type of shoe will be rejected. Be advised that some of the outdoor stores that normally sell hiking boots and walking shoes may not even stock a trail or fell running shoe
- The whole team must also bring good quality hiking boots. This is in case the shoes get rejected at check-in and/or to allow the team to swap into hiking boots at a Service Area if desired
- The intent to wear trail or fell running shoes must be declared when registering the team entry. The check in staff will have a list of teams that have requested to use trail or fell running shoes. The team will need to wear hiking boots if they are not on this list.