HILL running is an acquired taste.

But the memory of one man has had hundreds of people coming back for more.

To be precise, 350 would-be mountain goats have signed up for the fourth annual Lewes off-road marathon, called the Moyleman after Hove hill runner Chris Moyle.

An experienced Brighton and Hove AC runner, Chris died of stomach cancer nine years ago at the age of 42.

But his legacy has been kept alive by friend and race founder Ash Head, himself a stalwart of the local running community.

The pair competed in an ultra marathon together, forging a firm friendship that has endured beyond his death and led to the creation of the Moyleman.

Starting and finishing in Lewes, the event has snowballed since its inception in 2015.

Current race director Duncan Rawson took over the reins from Head in July and pledged to stay true to the “soul” of the growing event.

A handful of regulars ran over to Firle Beacon from Lewes to watch race officials presenting The Martlets hospice with a cheque for £5,000.

Chris spent his last days at the Hove care unit.

In an emotional ceremony attended by Chris’s sister Camilla, Duncan said: “This run has always been designed by runners for runners.

“Over my dead body will we lose that sense of community.”

Ash said: “Someone suggested that we become the ‘insert company name here’ marathon.

“We both said ‘absolutely never!’.”

The reigning champion is ex-Army paratrooper Mike Ellicock, who also holds the record with a time of two hours, 59 minutes.

This year he will face a larger field than ever after places sold out within weeks.

The course starts at Landport Bottom and climbs up to Black Cap, before dropping down to the A27 at Housedean Farm.

A steep and unforgiving climb up Newmarket Hill is followed by a detour through Castle Hill nature reserve, near Woodingdean, before the runners regain the South Downs Way just east of Kingston Ridge.

The village of Southease, on the banks of the River Ouse, marks the halfway point.

Gluttons for punishment then scale Itford Hill and head for Firle Beacon.

The final station of the cross before a hard-earned pint in Harvey’s Brewery yard is the old Iron Age hill fort of Mount Caburn.

This year’s event is on March 18, with all proceeds going to The Martlets.