South Downs Challenge  | The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity
Sat 4 May 2024 Brighton, East Sussex, UK

South Downs Challenge | The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

Experience a one-day marathon hike through the breathtaking South Downs National Park, journeying through rolling hills and over white cliffs, to fund life-saving cancer research.

  • Sat 4 May 2024
Brighton Racecourse, Brighton > Eastbourne seafront, Eastbourne

South Downs Challenge | The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity



Age 16 & over

  • 26 miles hiking + 1000 m ascent


In 2024, take on an incredible challenge for ground-breaking cancer research.

This adventurous coastal trek starts just outside Brighton and takes you on 42km of testing, undulating terrain before finishing on the seafront in Eastbourne.

South Downs Challenge

You will hike to the top of Firle Beacon, for stunning views of the coast, before heading down to the Seven Sisters along a most incredible stretch of cliff tops before finishing on the seafront in Eastbourne.

You'll raise vital funds for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and support a world-leading cancer centre to make a difference to the lives of people affected by cancer. Every step makes a difference.


  • Marathon-distance challenge walk
  • South Downs Way National Trail
  • Seven Sisters Country Park
  • Stunning views from Firle Beacon
  • Finish at the seafront in Eastbourne
  • Bank Holiday weekend achievement
  • Conquer a hilly, multi-terrain hike
  • Raise funds for cancer research

  • Newcomers
  • Teams


  • 06:30 | You'll meet the support team at the registration point just outside Brighton and listen to the safety briefing.
  • 07:00 | The trek begins! You'll enjoy a full day out, trekking for 10-12 hours on a multi-terrain route with plenty of undulations.
  • 17:00-19:00 | The majority of walkers will finish at this time and there's a comfy seat on the bus back to Brighton with your name on it.

Fitness level

26 miles forms an enormous challenge for walkers. But it is so worth it!

The South Downs Challenge is pretty tough so you'll need an adventurous spirit and an open mind. You may have taken part in other trekking challenges and now want to test yourself in a tougher environment. The more you exercise before the challenge, the more you will get out of it.


This is a sustained event of up to 12 hours and covering remote terrain with steep ascents and descents. The ideal training for this challenge is walking on similar terrain. However, if you do not have the luxury of living near the great outdoors, then the gym or running/walking in your local area are good places to start. Most training should be part of an ongoing lifestyle, but if this is not the case then you should begin training 4-6 months prior to the challenge and gradually build up. 

Kit advice

Remember to use the clothes, equipment and especially the boots/shoes that you will be wearing on the challenge in order to get them worn in.

Equipment of good quality and durability could make the difference between a fantastic challenge experience and an uncomfortable one. Waterproof and well-worn in boots or trail shoes are required. The terrain is uneven and can be very rough, so it is vital that you use either boots or trail running shoes with a good grip. Sports trainers are not suitable.


It's super-easy to sign up a team! The Events Team help from start to finish to take any hassle out of managing a large group booking. Get together for a walking weekend with friends or make this your corporate challenge of the year.

  • Coast
  • Free parking
  • Rural
  • Toilets

Event HQ

Brighton Racecourse
Freshfield Road
Brighton and Hove
East Sussex

  • First aid
  • Food stations
  • Hilly
  • Marshals
  • No cut off time
  • Point to point
  • Single start
  • Toilets
  • Water stations


  • Start from Brighton Racecourse
  • South Downs Way National Trail
  • Climb to the top of Firle Beacon
  • Picturesque village of Alfriston
  • Follow the Cuckmere River to the sea
  • Seven Sisters Country Park cliff tops
  • Finish on the seafront in Eastbourne


From Brighton Racecourse to Eastbourne along the South Downs Way.


Discover the beauty of the South Downs.

Starting from Brighton Racecourse, you will trek along the stunningly scenic South Downs National Trail. You will be trekking over rolling hills, high ridges peppered with long barrows, ancient earthworks, and occasionally magnificent panoramas over the English Channel. 

The trek will tackle some steep climbs and descents as you follow the South Downs way. At the end of the trek you will follow the breath-taking final stretch over the white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters, before finishing on the seafront in Eastbourne.

Views from near Firle Beacon: This distinctive hill in the South Downs National Park commands impressive views but is a tough climb!


Paragliders over Firle Beacon.


The picturesque village of Alfriston: A historic village set in the Wealden South Downs, Alfriston marks the beginning of your descent to the coast.


Seven Sisters Country Park


The cliffs and lighthouse at Beachy Head

  • Sustainability policy

Sustainability summary

  • The organisers are committed to sustainable and responsible tourism. On this challenge they liaise with South Downs National Park rangers to ensure minimal impact on the local environment.
  • The leaders care passionately for the environment and are available to talk to you about how you can do your bit to conserve the local area and enhance your experience; acting responsibly adds to the enjoyment of the day.
  • Hikers are encouraged to support the ‘South Downs National Trail’ who maintains the excellent footpaths used.
  • All participants are encouraged to support local businesses by spending extra time in the local area, booking overnight accommodation or going out for a meal in one of the excellent local pubs after the challenge.

Included - before you go

  • Royal Marsden Cancer Charity t-shirt
  • Discount at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow and Rock and Runners need
  • Support and fundraising advice from a dedicated team member
  • Fitness training notes for all fitness levels
  • Password protected account featuring support materials and training schedules

Included - on challenge day

  • Fully qualified leaders to support and guide you through the trek
  • Safety checkpoints along the whole route including first-aid
  • Packed lunch, snacks, drinks and water
  • Well deserved medal to celebrate your achievement

Not Included

  • Travel to/from the start/finish points (public transport from Eastbourne to Brighton is frequently available)
  • Personal hiking gear (boots, clothing etc)
  • Travel insurance
  • Any accommodation required

  • Fundraising materials
  • Fundraising required
  • Fundraising support
  • Submit fundraising up to 1 month after event

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

Raising vital funds to help cancer patients across the UK and around the world.

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity raises money solely to support the world-leading cancer centre. From funding state-of-the-art equipment and ground-breaking research, to creating the very best patient environments, the charity never stops looking for ways to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.


The fundraising is part of the adventure!

  • 80% of the minimum sponsorship (£172) must be sent to the charity 11 weeks before departure (by 17/02/2024)
  • The remaining 20% must be sent within 4 weeks of completing the challenge (by 01/06/2024).
  • If you have raised the required funds, the charity will pay the balance of your challenge costs.
  • The charity benefits by keeping the remaining sponsorship money plus every pound over and above what you raise. 

  • Age 16 & over
  • 200 places
  • Entries open
  • Enter online
  • Fundraising required

There is also a self-fund option:

  • Pay a non-refundable registration fee of £45.00 when you book.
  • Then a balance of £100.00 (9 weeks before your challenge).
  • Raise as much as you can for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Entry fees

Registration fee


Minimum sponsorship


Becky and I feel so thankful to The Royal Marsden for the incredible support they have shown two family members through their fight with cancer. The walks we do like the Souths Downs Challenge are a small token of our support to try and give as much back as we can.

We will remain forever indebted to the staff at The Royal Marsden for their perseverance, support, love and care. There are no words to say how thankful we are to them all. Jamie, South Downs Challenge participant and supporter