2009 Newmarket

The Barclay Bicentenary 100 miles

This Centurion qualifying event, incorporating the RWA National Long Distance championship, started on a fairly tough course of 50 two mile laps at Newmarket Racecourse.   Despite a seven hour downpour during the night 28 people completed the hundred within 24 hours. There were eleven new Centurions, 4 of them English and 7 from overseas. Sandra Brown’s (C735)  hundred increased her grand total to 135 events of 100 miles or more, a feat that will probably never be matched, and her time of 19.57.24 was a W60 world best.




by Dave Ainsworth C540

Back in 2009 famous jockey Richard Dunwoody successfully completed a challenge to emulate Captain Robert Barclay Allardice’s feat of walking 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours along that same Newmarket route. Captain Barclay (1779-1854), who was commissioned in the 23rd Regiment of Foot, struck a 1,000 guineas wager that he’d succeed – which he did from 1st June-to-12th July 1809. Richard Dunwoody’s successful completion came on the 200th Anniversary, walking from 29th May-to-10th July.

Closing stages were slightly altered so it finished at Newmarket’s July Course, where Channel 4 were televising a major meeting, so affording maximum publicity. Mr. Dunwoody’s efforts attracted much sponsorship and a considerable sum was raised, which was divided among 4 worthy charities. It was one of the best supported events ever in race walking – for instance most of Essex Walkers readers showed up in Newmarket during the 6 weeks’ duration, as signatures in a thick visitors’ book shows. Many came more than once, some several times, as so many walked those 1 mile legs with Richard, encouraging him to keep going towards his 1,000 target. In those 6 weeks, a day out to Newmarket to be part of this occasion became a regular occurrence. It wasn’t just walkers as several dignitaries and local celebrities dropped in to give encouragement and pledge donations. Among notables signing that visitors’ book were Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum, owner of so many top racehorses – and actress Honeysuckle Weeks, best known as Samantha Stewart (later Wainwright) in the WW2 drama “Foyle’s War”. Due to good local publicity so many motorists driving along Newmarket’s busy Bury Road continually “tooted” their support for Richard.

This anniversary has been a regular event on our calendar, except for the past 2 years when “lockdowns” kicked-in. The format is coffee at the upmarket 4* Bedford Lodge Hotel and Spa, which was a base for 6 weeks’ effort and outside which a mile leg commenced/finished. Then a gentle social walk along the stretch of road that feats of 1809 & 2009 were staged on, followed by lunch at the hotel. Most years saw good turnouts, but this year it was down due to a number of reasons. For instance 2 previous years of Covid had caused a break in continuity, July 2022 saw Covid levels worryingly rising, there was a heatwave which resulted in some crying off, and – sadly – there are less of us about from that memorable 2009 occasion. But importantly, the tradition’s continuity was maintained, and hopefully more will make it in 2023 and beyond. Commented organiser Ron Wallwork, “There weren’t many of us, but it was a lovely day with lots of credit to Jon and daughter Jenny who completed four circuits in four hours”.

L-to-R Glyn Jones, Pam Ficken, Mick Graham, Ron Wallwork, Jenny, and Jon May at the front door of Bedford Lodge Hotel.