Canterbury Trails sees runners compete over 60 miles (stock image)

Chaucer’s Tales inspire exacting race to Canterbury

Geoffrey Chaucer’s world famous Canterbury Tales are the inspiration for a unique endurance race to Canterbury.

Ultra-marathon runners will run the 60 miles from London to Canterbury in a competitive race set by an adventure sports company.

In Chaucer’s days at the end of the 14th century, pilgrims made their way to the Cathedral to pray at the altar of murdered Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket.

The trip on horseback usually took about three days, but the endurance runners are expected to be able to complete it in 48 hours.

And, in a nod to tradition, they will have to complete the last three miles barefoot.

The race finishes at Canterbury Cathedral

Called the Canterbury Trails, the race has been devised by company Rat Race Adventure Sports.

Founder Jim Mee said: “We wanted to breathe new life into this famous route, giving it a modern twist and making it accessible to those from all walks of life.

“For anyone who’s read the Canterbury Tales, the thing that stands out the most is that despite the pilgrims all coming from very different backgrounds, there’s a real shared camaraderie among the group.

“It’s this ethos we want to recreate. Covering 30 miles a day, for two days, whether you choose to walk or run it, is no small task.

“But when you’ve got the support of your peers we think it’s achievable for even the average plodder.”

The route starts at the site of the long gone Tabard Inn, Southwark, goes along the old Roman road of Watling Street with an overnight stop at the 30-mile mark in Rochester.

Those who reach the Cathedral will receive a volume of the Canterbury Tales as a prize for taking part.

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