All the latest news & views from the HellRunner team

Six reasons to run HellRunner with your mates

  1. Motivation

spuronWhile it may be slightly irritating hearing your best mate (who you were convinced you were fitter than), encouraging you to ‘pick up the pace’, while crawling up Hell Down South’s Hills of Hell, it can be hugely motivational too. In fact, studies have shown that exercising with your friends can improve performance. A study of 1,000 women by Virgin Active Health Clubs found that 64 per cent of those who run with friends pushed themselves harder than if they were alone.

When you’re running alone, particularly in an extreme endurance event such as HellRunner, it’s easy to stop, feel sorry for yourself and question your ability to go any further. A few motivational words from a friend, telling you that your shaky legs WILL make it to the top of the next gruelling incline, will never be more welcome than when running HellRunner. And let’s be honest, when you throw a bunch of mates together in a field with a few bogs and hills, what better space for a contest? Clowns will fall, devils will laugh and competition will never be so fun.


  1. Training is more fun

Getting up for a 6am training session when every inch of your body wants to snuggle beneath the covers is one hell of an effort. But when your mate is waiting for you outside, craving a cuppa’ and their bed, it’s hard to leave them hanging. Plus, training with a friend will stop you swapping out your long run for a recovery run when you’re feeling lazy and encourage you to keep up the pace.


  1. You’ve got a helping hand through the Bog of Doom, Lucifer’s Lido and Hills of HellHellrunner 2

If you’ve run HellRunner before, you’ll know that when wading through a sub-zero bog after seven miles of mud running, nothing is more comforting than seeing your best mate going through the exact same pain as you are. A friend is also welcome when staggering down HellRunner’s devilish descents ― picture a drunken walk home from the pub, throw in a vertical drop and accelerate the pace by 80% and you’ll understand why you’ll be glad to have mate by your side running HellRunner.


  1. Welcomed assistance pulling off your wet clothes

When you’re wet, freezing cold and covered in mud, all bodily inhibitions are abolished. All you want to do is get out of your wet clothes and into your dry ones, but when you’re too shattered to take your own tights off, there’s nothing nicer than having your mate do it for you.


  1. A pint always tastes better with a friend

200278039-001If you’ve just taken on the UK’s toughest ten-miler, you deserve a pint (or at least a hot chocolate to warm you up). Grab it with your mates and it’ll taste even better. A post HellRun high is always better with a mate.


  1. Discounted group entry

And with up to a fiver off entry when you sign up with your mates, what’s not to love? Check out entry prices here.

Which aspect of HellRunner do you find most brutal?


Which aspect of HellRunner do you find most brutal?

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Exclusive interview with Hell Down South winner Ross Macdonald

So Ross, congratulations on winning this year’s Hell Down South! What time did you do it in?IMG_1244

Thanks. I completed Hell Down South in 1:18:04 this year, which was 26 seconds faster than I had completed it in 2014. I moved from third place to first place during the beautifully named ‘Bog of Doom’ and just managed to hold onto this position for the remaining few miles. 

What other running do you do?

I compete most weekends in Obstacle Course Races across the UK, and sometimes further afield. My race team, inov-8 OCR, are often placed in the top few places in these events. I also compete at Ironman and 70.3 distance in triathlon, which may have helped me get through the Bog of Doom slightly faster than others!?

Did you train specifically for HellRunner?

My weekly training involves a lot of cycling, swimming and running. For HellRunner it is the running intervals, hill repetitions and circuit training which really help over a course such as this. My training with British Military Fitness, which involves a lot of squats and core work, really helps. 

For a first time participant HellRunner, what would you advise them to expect? 

Although it is a tough course, everything at HellRunner is manageable. Expect a lot of hills, many of which are technical. It is a tough course but it is also a lot of fun and the marshals are always brilliant at HellRunner.

And what clothes & shoes are appropriate?

Much of the course at HellRunner is loose stone, mud or sand and so a decent pair of footwear is needed. I wear the inov-8 x-talon 200’s which were great. As you are also crossing two (sometimes frozen) lakes make sure you have some decent compression and thermal wear on. I opt for 2XU compression wear, a merino wool top and then my race vest.

What would be the best way they could get in shape for an event such as HellRunner?

HellRunner has a lot of short, steep climbs on mud and loose gravel. Get yourself running off road and practice running up some hills!

For someone who has run it before, what advice would you give them to beat their previous time? 

HellRunner hills sap a lot of energy so just pace yourself, save some energy for the last few miles, and that will help you beat your previous times. In addition, work the hills and have confidence running downhill.

What did you have to eat the morning before Hell Down South?IMG_0998

Providing I am awake three hours before running I always have a bowl of porridge with banana and cinnamon. It is like a pre-race ritual now, that I don’t like to change. 

How was your recovery?

I actually bruised my knee quite badly at the race this year as I jumped into the frozen lake. The ice took a chunk of my knee off and this stopped me running for a week. This shouldn’t put anyone off though as apart from for the leader, there is a clear path through the ice for everyone to follow. I was actually handed a stick as I jumped into the lake which I soon discovered was really needed!

Are you entering any other HellRunner events with a view of winning them?

I like the sound of Hell in the Chilts, which is in September. Of course, if I am entered, I will plan to win them!

What’s next in your running life?

Triathlon or obstacle-course races pretty much every weekend! I have London Marathon to prepare for where I am hoping to break the 2:35 hr mark and I am also training for the OCR World Championships, which are in the US in October.

Many thanks, Ross, and good luck!

Meet the mad man who has run HellRunner nine consecutive times


=big k

Fifty-one-year-old Kieth Duffy-Penny is a Financial Trader, living in Hayes, Kent. He has been a fitness fanatic for the past 30 years: running, road cycling and even kite surfing. As a runner, Kieth has taken on every distance possible, from 5Ks to marathons, turning his hand to every event he can, his favourite annual event being HellRunner.

For the last nine years, Kieth has taken part in Hell Down South – home of the original HellRunner event. Kieth fell head over ‘hills’ with HellRunner after reading a running magazine back in 2006. Motivated by the article and also inspired by his experience in the military, Kieth set his sights on HellRunner as his next big endeavour. He said:

‘I was encouraged by both my love of running and the fact that I had spent several years in the Reserve Forces. In fact, I spent a lot of time training on the Army Training Area where Hell Down South is based.’

No sooner had Kieth read the feature, his HellRunning career had begun, and so had the annual HellRunner family outing. ‘I was always supported by my young children, who were always there to laugh at dad,’ he said. ‘However, come 2009, the tables were turned when I was joined by my eldest daughter Alix, then in 2010 by my youngest daughter Ellie and in 2011 by my son Lewis.’

2015 gang post run

The annual event amongst the Duffy-Penny family now includes Kieth’s brothers and nieces and also some of his work colleagues. ‘Most families have outings to go bowling or to the cinema, we run Hellrunner,’ he joked. ‘It is now a firm annual tradition.’

‘Hellrunner is a very well organised event, which I have seen grow and improve over the years,’ says Keith. He added:

‘It is a lot of fun especially as it is not really a personal best type of run, but essentially a physical and mental challenge – never quite knowing how deep or how cold the Bog of Doom will be year on year!

‘We always try our best to make sure we keep the date free each year.’

Your next HellRunner obstacle

On Thursday we asked: “If you could add another natural obstacle to our already devilish course (Bog of Doom, Hills of Hell etc) what would it be?”.

You came back in splendid fashion as normal, this is what you had to say:


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Prepare for the Hills of Hell

Our best advice for hill training in preparation for HellRunner

If you’ve signed up to a HellRunner event, expect to climb. If you’ve signed up to Hell in the Chilts, expect to climb England’s highest mountain – Scafell Pike. HellRunner events all encompass Hills of Hell, designed to push your endurance to its very limits. Hill training for HellRunner will not only prepare you to take on HellRunner’s climbs but will help to increase your overall fitness and build muscle in IMG_5580preparation for running HellRunner’s lengthy distances. Here’s how best to train.

Long hills

Running over hilly terrain for a lengthy distance is a great way of working your cardiovascular system and developing leg strength. Practice running a hilly circuit of around four to eight miles at a 10K pace to build up endurance.

According to Hazel Silver, off-road runner and fitness expert, hill running is essentially ‘weight training in disguise’. Long hill sessions will develop the muscle and fatigue-resistance of your leg muscles.

Hill intervals

Hill intervals will not only help you develop a quicker stride running up hill but will quickly develop anaerobic capacity. Find a hill that takes around one minute to run up and try to run this at a 5K pace over eight reps. Jog down the hill at a recovery pace in-between.

Practice postureIMG_1504

When running up hill, many people make the mistake of bending over and drooping their heads – a common cause of back pain. To prevent strain on the lower back, practice leaning forward from the ankles rather than the waistline to keep your body in a straight line.

Treadmill inclines

If you do most of your training in the gym, the treadmill is a great way to practice running at an incline. Start by setting your treadmill to a four per cent incline, building this to 10 per cent and gradually extending the distance with each session.

Don’t underestimate the downhillIMG_1537

Perfecting the art of running downhill requires serious practice. Many runners have the tendency to lean back when running downhill due to fear of falling over. As with running uphill, leaning forward from the ankles will help to alleviate pain when running downhill.

Step it up

Steps provide a great platform for a quality interval workout. Find a set of steps that will take around one minute to run up and tackle them over five reps. This will not only offer a great cardio workout but will strengthen your hamstrings and your glues too.

Point of view video of Hell Down South Bog of Doom

For those that have done HellRunner before, the below clip may bring back some horrifying memories and for those that have never tried it. This is a little taste of what’s in store.

The following video is by 2015 Hell Down South participant Paul Haynes. It shows, in full, the Bog of Doom in all its terrifying glory.

Warning! There is lots of excessive shouting.

Hell Runner Website 2015


Welome to our brand new HellRunner website. We hope that it will be a fun, informative place for you and your running friends to come and visit and to enter some of the UK’s most unique and enjoyable running experiences. We would love to hear what you think about the new site. Let us know with a simple click below.

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Video: Hell Down South 2015

When the going gets tough the tough get going…and the smiles keep coming. That is, if you are Team Danger Mouse! So how they were all dressed up and ready to rock at last month’s Hell Down South.

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Tom Tries Hell Runner


Imagine 10.5 miles of mud, steep terrain, and bogs – bogs so cold that you feared for your manhood when you came out the other end. Imagine that and I welcome you to HellRunner.

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