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Ashford ultra runner Rick Walton conquers 94km North Downs Way Loop with new fastest-known record time

Ultra-runner Rick Walton smashed the record time for the 94km North Downs Way Loop.

Walton, from Kingsnorth in Ashford, finished in 10hr35min22sec, beating the previous fastest-known best of 11:58 by an hour and 23 minutes.

Rick Walton celebrates his record run on the North Downs
Rick Walton celebrates his record run on the North Downs

He got into trail-running in November 2020 as lockdown started to ease and after losing his dad.

In taking on the North Downs challenge - his longest run to date - he also raised funds for the Pilgrims Hospice, who looked after his father.

“It was an amazing way to see the stunning Kent countryside,” said Walton.

“I feel very proud to be able to give something back to the Pilgrims Hospice, but I couldn’t have done this on my own.”

Walton, who co-owns local letting agency Lifeboat Lettings, set off from Wye Village Hall at 7am on Saturday, May 18.

He was joined by pacers along the route and had a support crew of friends, family and fellow runners.

The weather was relatively kind, being slightly overcast but quite humid to start with.

Rick Walton on the North Downs.
Rick Walton on the North Downs.

And despite a tough mid-section, and nausea for about three hours, Walton pushed on.

“This record attempt was a team effort and I will be forever grateful to my crew on the day to get me safely to the finish line,” he said.

Initially during the 21km leg to Canterbury Hospice, Walton was joined by Georgiana Robitu and Emma Carlton, from Ashford and Bethersden, before picking up the pace slightly with Richard Huckstepp (Ashford) for the longer leg of 34km across to Dover seafront.

The final 39km leg was then a gruelling hilly section out of Dover towards Folkestone and the finish line where Walton was joined by Claire Stone (West Malling) and Phil Briley (Bluebell Hill) and also a surprise visit from his son, Harry, for a 12km section.

Hydration and fuelling was supported at the roadside by fellow ultra-runner Matt Evans from Medway.

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