'A full marathon with heigh gain/loss of 6400 feet - Easily the hardest marathon in Britain.'
The last-ever running of The Picnic.
Box Hill Fort, at the TOP of Box Hill, Surrey, UK, KT20 7LB
Very good effort from everyone involved!
Special thanks to the wonderful marshals, without whom the race could not have taken place: Cathy Bell, Emma Bud, Susi Calder, Gaz Davies, Martin Hunter, David Jarrett, Jo Kenrick, Michael Light, Sally McCaffrey, Gavin Olsson, Paul Perratt, Gareth Pritchard, Amanda and Steve Rencontre, Martin Riddle, Mark Robinson, Inga Sevastjanova, Gaynor Simpson, Patrick Watt, Chris Wye - Thank you all! Special thanks to Tom Irving, for running the Midsummer Munro, and then going back out to sweep the course behind the final 8-hour Picnic runner!
Results are now up - if you cannot see 2018 results, please dump your history/cache and refresh your broswer!
Excellent write-up of The Final Picnic by Dawn Gardner
Rate the race and leave comments on The Final Picnic (Runner's World)
See runner ratings and comments (Runner's World)
Steve Rencontre's excellent photos of the Midsummer Munro and The Final Picnic 2018
Steve Rencontre's amusing photo-story of the Midsummer Munro and The Final Picnic 2018
Our photos of the Midsummer-Munro & Final Picnic 2018 on Flickr
Martin Riddle's photos of the Munro/Final Picnic 2018 on Flickr
Video of the start and everyone on the first hill of the Midsummer Munro and The Final Picnic 2018
The 8th and final Picnic marathon was staged around Box Hill on 1 July 2018, with a record entry of 185 registered entrants. However, 45 of them saw sense even before the event and did not even turn up for the start. So, on the day 140 of the country's finest athletes assembled in already warming conditions to set off to attempt the Final Picnic.
As it happened, at least 32 of the starters of the Final Picnic elected to 'step down' to complete 'only' the half marathon distance. Even so, this was no mean feet, with 13.1 miles of hilly running - with 3200 feet of ascent and 3200 feet of descent - on a hot and sunny day. To finish at the 'half way' point (of the Picnic) was probably the best decision of the year for many of these runners. Several runners completed the half marathon distance and started out on the second half of the out-and-back Picnic course, only to realise that today was not going to be their day and to return to the finish slightly 'chagrined.' No shame in seeing sense!
However, 89 of the 140 starters went on to finish the Final Picnic, on what became one of the hottest days of the year, peaking at 29°C. Two hills in particular seemed to challenge the runners, being as they were without a scintilla of shade: the ascent to Juniper Top, and the Burford Slope. Each of these had to be completed four times during the race, along with 16 other ascents (and descents), making a total of 20 hills to be climbed during the 'Toughest Marathon in Britain.'
The race in 2018 featured a new simpler course, which eliminated one long flat bit (from the Smith and Western to Juniper Top), replacing it with an additional shockingly large hill (the Burford Slope). Due to the new course, the times for finishers are not comparable to previous years: new course records were set for both male and female finishers. Since The Picnic will not be repeated, these records will stand forever, set in stone.
For the ladies, Caroline Court (in her first marathon in over eight years, having had time out to have two babies), 37, running for DMVAC, was third in 5:43:40, while Phyllis Tsang, 36, via Toronto and Uganda, was second in 5:33:08. In first place for the ladies was Charley Jennings, 43 and unattached, in a great time of 5:30:23.
James Riley, 41, running for Ranelagh Harriers, was third in the Final Picnic, in 4:47:11, while the previous winner of the 2012 OlymPicnic (the even-tougher ultra-version of the Picnic) Ed Catmur (35, TH&H, brother of Caroline Court) was second in 4:43:29 (after suffering from cramps in the final stages of the race). Finally, Alan Smalls (50, Colchester) was the winner of the Final Picnic, in 4:37:16.
We take our hats off to all those who completed this Final Picnic - one of the toughest races ever organised by Trionium. We save a final special mention for Malcolm Fluck, 60, who was the final finisher in The Final Picnic, in 8:01:20. His indomitable spirit showed what bloody-minded perseverance in the face of desperate pain and overwhelming odds can achieve, and he showed true British pluck. Malcolm, you are a legend.
Quotes of the day 2018:
"Just to say a big Thank You to you and all the volunteers at the Picnic today. I’ve run Greensands and volunteered with you before but this was my first Picnic. It didn’t disappoint! It sounds ridiculous when you say you are proud of squeezing a sub 7 time. But I was!" Elaine Battson
"Thank you for all the work that you and your team put into yesterday's Picnic Marathon. I have competed in events all over the world that claim to be the 'the toughest marathon in [country name].' It is somewhat ironic that after desserts, jungle and even the Himalayas, Surrey almost proved to be my undoing. Please pass on my thanks to all of your marshals. You seemed to have successfully sourced this biased, friendliest folk in the whole county. We do not underestimate how taxing it is to be out in the sun all day – they did an excellent job." Josh Ord-Hume
"I'm glad I was able to take part as that is a truly testing race that will live long in my memory/nightmares. I had lost the ability to speak by the time I finished - but I'd just like to say that I thought the race was really well run and organised. Enthusiastic and cheerful aid stations crew throughout!" Oliver Houlton
"Pity it was the last, but for whilst it lasted it was the hardest marathon in England. Much respect and praise to Rob to organise us and much love to the volunteers this year, and through all of the years, for enabling us to run The Picnic and have a gruelling time out on the hills." Sean Parry
"'Suicidal' doesn't come close to describing it. At no other race have I found myself stuck halfway up a hill with cramp in every muscle - front and back - of my legs and feet. The only thing that got me able to move again was getting lessons in meditative breathing from a wonderfully understanding Indian chap out for a walk (and a picnic?) with his family. Utterly unforgettable and such a shame that this was the last running of the race." Ed Catmur (former winner of the race).
The OlymPicnic Ultra voted one of Britain's top 3 'other distance' races in 2012 by runners voting at Runner's World - thanks!
The Picnic voted Britain's best trail race in 2011 by runners voting at Runner's World - thanks!
The Picnic voted Britain's best marathon in 2007 and 2009 by runners voting at Runner's World - thanks!
The Picnic named 'Hardest marathon in Britain' by Runner's World - 2006
A run for really very exceptionally hearty man fellows and lady fellows, entirely on rough tracks, and including superb views over the North Downs, the Mole Gap, Denbies Vineyard, and Dorking, when you can wipe the stinging sweat from your eyes.
Normally run every two years - to give runners time to recover before the next Picnic.
Don't be scared. This won't hurt. Much.
The Picnic Marathon: nuts, bananas, fruitcakes and a few sandwiches short of the full picnic.
Not for nothing was this race originally going to be called 'The Crippler.'
But why is it The Final Picnic?
We've been asked a number of times why it is the final Picnic, and you deserve an explanation. The fact is, we (Trionium) only ever want to organise great events. It is very difficult to get enough marshals to commit for the length of time (7-8 hours, starting at 7am!) that it takes to get everyone around the Picnic course. We need at least 20 marshals for this race. We want and need marshals for the success of the race - and without them, we can't put on the race. With too few marshals, we risk runners going off-course (and on The Picnic, you don't want to go a step further than you have to!). When runners go off-course and complain, after everyone's best efforts, we think to ourselves, 'Okay, if we can't provide a fantastic experience, then we won't do it at all.' However, we wanted to give everyone a final chance to do the race. We hope that we have enough marshals to conduct you round in perfection.
Think that The Picnic should happen again?
Then bring friends and relations to be marshals - or be one yourself!
Well done to everyone who completed the marathon distance: 20% did not start, while another 15% of race entrants took the sensible course of stepping down to complete the Midsummer Munro half marathon distance.
We are aware of some issues on directions and we are very sorry that these happened, but by following the pre-race map and description on the web site, by faithfully repeating the out-and-back course, by following the paint, signs and tape and by obeying the marshals, most people got around okay. For those heroic runners that ran extra miles we hope that you enjoyed the 'bonus' hills! Full respect also to those worthy runners that found themselves back at the finish 'under-distance' and who went back out and added additional hills to get up to the full distance - thank you for your honesty.
Picnic Marathon 2016 results - make sure to refresh your browser window to see the results
Picnic Marathon/Midsummer Munro Photos 2016
See runner comments and ratings
Comment on and rate this year's race (Runner's World)
Discussion thread on The Picnic 2016 (Runner's World)
Steve Rencontre's excellent photos:
Pre and early race
Top of the Box Hill steps
Juniper Top 1
Juniper Bottom/Eiger Steps 1
Turnaround/Juniper Bottom/Eiger Steps 2
Juniper Top 2/Trig point
MM finish/Picnickers' second half
Picnic Marathon runner comments and ratings 2014 (Runner's World)
Add your rating of the Picnic Marathon 2014 (Runner's World)
Picnic Marathon 2014 discussion (Runner's World)
Picnic Marathon 2014 results (if you cannot see 2014 results, make sure to refresh your browser window)
Our photos of the Picnic Marathon and Midsummer Munro 2014 (photo credit to Lewis Tefft)
Steve Rencontre's photos of The Picnic and Midsummer Munro 2014
Dan Milton's excellent photos of The Picnic and Midsummer Munro 2014
Picnic Marathon video 2014
Justin Bateman's poo-tastic blog of his epic Picnic finish - not for the faint-hearted!
Sean Parry's illustrated blog of The Picnic Marathon 2014
On 21 June 2014, 98 hardy runners - the hardest of the hardcore - set out to attempt the UK's hardest marathon, the legendary Picnic. One gave up after the first hill, seeing sense. Many others decided to call it a day at the half way stage, having completed 'just' the half marathon distance (and so completing the country's hardest half - no shame in that). Out of the Munro and Picnic, two runners sustained injuries after tripping (one rather gruesome image of an injury can be found here) and were treated by the race medical providers, St John Ambulance, while a lady runner in the half badly overheated at the end of the race and was taken to hospital to recover. This was a tough edition of the race. In then end, 66 runners finished the Picnic Marathon is hot and dusty conditions, with many tales to tell along the way - the lowest proportion of finishers ever.
For the gentlemen, Alistair Green, originally hailing from Cape Town but now a true Brit, finished first in 4:21:35, with Dave Ross second in 4:25:24 and Ross Le Blanc (from the US) in third place in 4:41:00. First lady home, and actually finishing in third place overall - a very noteworthy and impressive event - was Carla Denenny in 4:39:45, only 107 seconds outside the lady's course record and this on a hot day. Second lady home was Charley Jennings in 5:31:44, while Catherine Edeam was third in 5:42:44. Full respect to anyone finishing The Picnic, in whatever time. To finish is to triumph.
The race raised £1000 for MIND - the mental health charity.
The National Trust has told us that we cannot use the bottom of the Burford Slope as the start/finish area for the races any more, due to the presence in this environmentally-sensitive area of protected bee orchids. There were also some concerns about traffic congestion at the bottom of the Zig Zag Road.
The start and finish areas for the Midsummer Munro Half Marathon 2015 and the Picnic Marathon 2016 will now be at the top of Box Hill, next to the Old Fort. Although this means that we will not have the famous long downhill finish, all the races will still incorporate this as part of the course (just not at the end). It also means that we will have much easier (free) parking, and much better toilet, spectator and café facilities.
The Picnic Marathon and Midsummer Munro Half will both need to start together at 8am on the Sunday (they have previously started at 2pm and 4pm respectively on the Saturday). That will change the race dynamic slightly - the Picnicers will get support in the first half but not so much in the second half.
It was a case of 'Hobson's Choice.' The alternative to these changes was to not organise the races at all!
Brilliant race veryone - well done all round!
The race raised £1000 for MIND - the mental health charity. How apt.
HUGE thanks to our super marshals!
Picnic Ultra and Picnic Ultra-half Results 2012
First photos (Picnic and Munro combined)
Steve Rencontre's photos - nice!
Nick B's trace - showing 49km, 2163m (7096ft) ascent/descent
OlymPicnic 2012 Video
See Picnic Ultra runner comments 2012
Add your comments 2012
Discussion 2012 (RW)
Quote of the race 2012: "Thanks once again for a super day in the very slopey hills. I arrived at my running club training evening last night and was clapped in like a hero by all the club members because they know how tough the Picnic is."
Course profile 2012 courtesy Iain leighton:
Below: Jason Burke's video of the day (Picnic and Munro) - from his head-cam!
'Here's a photo of the opening of a new home for street children in Kalyan, Maharastra. Above is a picture of the first group of children to move in to the home; they were thrilled to get your T Shirts [and caps] and to hear how Trionium supports Rianna’s Fund.'Jo Sherring, Rianna's Fund
Thanks to everyone who took part in 2011 - you're all nutters.
Massive thanks to the marshals!
Picnic (+ Midsummer Munro) photos
Preliminary results 2011
Race ratings 2011
Add your rating/comments
Discussion thread (RW) 2011 race
UK Athletics Licence 2011-0085
Richard Elson, running for EACS: Longest Training Run(Skidaw) and Highs and Lows of training for The Picnic
The race raised £1000 for MIND - thanks!
Congratulations to everyone who ran the race in 2009 - excellent effort!
Super Congratulations to Andrew Stalley, who ran the Picnic as his 100th marathon, and so joined the 100 Club...Brilliant!
HUGE THANKS to all marshals (esp. Andy, Al, Nicky and Brian - mega marshals!) and to Liz and the Magnificats
Runner ratings 2009
Rate the race 2009
RW discusion forum on The Picnic 2009
A word from our sponsors in 2009...
Runner comments and requests in advance of the 2009 race:
I was a Midsummer Munro participant, and those voices in my head
are saying 'Do the Picnic, Do the Picnic'
I was a DNF in 2005, so I have a score to settle...
Stop the clock at 4hrs 59mins!
Any chance of adding some more steps, to make it a little harder please?
Stop taking the p**s Dr Rob!
My aim is only to survive.
No flowers please.
If I do die on the course at least bury me the right way up!!
Bury me where I fall - as long as I’m dead of course.
Any last requests would typically involve a couple of Swedish girls
Save me a sandwich, I'll be a while...
Tell my kids not to try this at home and even then only under adult supervision
Give my trainers to my wife
A quiet and simple ceremony - no lilies - and 'Jerusalem' would be appreciated.
Please have three pints of beer for me, waiting at the finish...
I WILL SURVIVE!
‘My way’ by Frank Sinatra
Please get very drunk at my funeral. It’s what I would have wanted.
Give my jock strap to the winner.
Repatriate me to Hampshire please
Hot tub filled with Page Three girls please.
Tell my family I was nutty to the end.
Look after Hector !
Well done to all who completed the course.
Photos and results
Fantastic professional photos
Discussion on 2007 race
Picnic Marathon 2007 'best in the UK'
The Picnic Marathon was named the best marathon in the UK in 2007 (6th race overall out of a total of approximately 2500 races) by runners voting on Runner's World (+15 votes category).
Thanks to everyone who voted for the race!
Lived up to expectations, tough hills and LOTS of steps !! with a great atmosphere. Had a great day and haven't stopped telling all my running mates (and everybody else) about it - maybe a few more club members will do it in two years' time. The glass momento was brilliant, probably the best I've received in 25 years of running. The atmosphere was very friendly and encouraging - I liked the low key atmosphere at the start - half a dozen of us turned up early and were co-opted into carrying stuff up the bottom of the hill to the start. I found the course lived up to expectations - nice variation of terrain - dirt paths, grass, steps, rocky paths, more steps, a bridge and stepping stones (under water) in a river, oh and did I mention steps? plus somehow the organiser managed to provide lots of lovely mud in June! Fantastic! Got slightly confusing when the Midsummer Munro runners first appeared on the course round the loop down to the river but they were so encouraging when passing them going the other way during the second half - I think they thought we were just crazy. The marshalls were great - thanks, everybody. Nice to hear the Lone Piper again. Loved it and will be back in two years time.
Gut bustingly difficult, but worth the phenomenal achievement you feel at the end. I absolutely loved this marathon, it was tough, really tough, but great banter along the way and the fantastic sense of achievement at the end make it all worth while. Nothing will stop me from being there in 2009.
This is a must do race with a very special atmosphere and fantastic organisation.
Extremely tough course. This is a very tough but rewarding race, take it very easy on the first lap. Competitors were very supportive, loved the bag pipes. It's good preparation for ultras and Ironman triathlon.
Five hours and more of extreme fresh air and a thunderstorm to add drama. Great event!
Bloody hell fire, that was a toughie!! See you all in 2 years time
Great Organization, Fantastic Marchals, Beautiful Scenery, Tough (nice) Route, Warm & Friendly Atmosphere
A perfect race, tough but worth it in so many ways. It wasn't my legs that got me round but the amazing atmosphere. Without a doubt a running challenge that every distance runner should experience, lived up to its name of the "toughest in Britain".
Tough, but worth it!
A perfect race for the very few & brave that love long distance and extreme hills
The Ronseal of Races - does exactly what it says on the tin! Fantastic race in every way, brutally hard course but a great atmosphere. Big thanks to Dr Robert and all the marshalls for making such a pinful experience seem so much fun!
If you think you've run a hard race then you need to try this.
Hardest event I've ever done. Great event very tough on the legs, Killer slopes after the rain & those steps make the Grizzly & Beast steps look flat. Thanks to all the marshals for a great day: you did a great job.
"Britain's Hardest Marathon" certainly lived up to it's name. Tougher than expected and I experienced a step-up in difficult from the previous level provided by Three Forts/Beachy Head/South Downs Marathon. There was little opportunity to get into a rhythm as the ascents and descents appeared with worrying regularity, and we won't mention the Steps!! Is that where Led Zeppelin got the idea for "Stairway to Heaven"? To the offroad runner, this is the mother of all marathon challenges, and the sheer difficulty was softened by the fantasic scenery, the kind weather (showers and reasonably cool temperature, the great camarderie between the marathon runners (we were in it together) and the half marathoners when they joined the route (encouragement accompanied by startled looks at us nutcases), and the officials and marshals. A very special day. One slight concern was the uncertainty caused by some of the direction markers. With tiredness it was quite easy to miss a turn but that can be easily rectified. Thanks to all.
That was tough. If you are looking for a marathon with a bit of spice, this is the one, there are hills, I mean HILLS, steps and a touch of thunder. Water stations every 2 miles which was great. If I'm mad, I'll be back.
A killer of a race.. But so worth it. Excellent race.. .Only problem was my legs at the end. Enjoyed every minute. I wasn't in the "Under 5 hours" gang but still felt very positive all the way though. I'd do it again at the drop of a hat and the glass ornament was excellent. Well done.
While you are on this site, please register for Trionium Magazine. It's free to download, and includes lots of articles of interest to the hearty runner. Click here!
On Saturday 2 July 2005, 11 plucky runners completed Britain's hardest marathon, which was exactly double the Midsummer Munro, and which was called The Picnic. Harley Inder (24) of New Zealand finished in a stunning 4:34, for the 26.2 miles and 6000 feet of ascent and descent. Silke Pichler (32, New York Road Runners) was the first lady home, in 4:45. Gavin Edmonds (33, Serpentine running Club) was first Brit home, in second place in 4:37, and first British lady home was the battered and bruised Sarah Tucker (29, Springfield Striders) in just under 5 hours. Last man home was Paul Tabor (44, Sevenoaks AC), who, although he was pulled off the course after 7 hours, then returned the same night and finished, in the dark, with an elapsed time of 8:30. Those finishing in over 5 hours were awarded a cup inscribed 'One sandwich short on The Picnic.'
Thanks to everyone who took part in the Picnic on 2 July, and to the marshals and caterers (Bob and Bob's mum, Liz).
Professional photos available at http://www.grahamrussell.info/sport/2005/midsummer-munro/index.htm
Discussion on this race 2005 (rather interesting)
Two circuits of a very hilly out-and back course. Runners attempting the Midsummer Munro (half marathon) will be using the same course from 4pm on race day.
Right: No Picnic on Mount Kenya - an all-time classic tale of three Italian P.o.W.s who break out of a British camp in Kenya, and go and climb Mount Kenya.
Respect to them - and to anyone who completes The Picnic.
Organised by Conferio Ltd
picnic [at] trionium [dot] com