Runners do the hard summer yards

July 30 2018
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Thornbury RC’s Rob Hopkins was back in the Lake District only 4 weeks after completing a 190-mile coast to coast ultra-marathon.

 He would have been forgiven for a gentle reintroduction, but true to form chose to compete in a triathlon voted the world’s toughest Ironman.

The Triathlon X has almost 17,000 ft of ascent over the 140 miles of punishing Lake District terrain. The 2.4 mile swim in Lake Windemere was the calm before the storm; a wet and windy 112 mile bike ride over some of the highest peaks in England. After drying himself down, Rob had the small matter of a marathon to complete which featured a run to the top of Scafell Pike and back.  Rob added another impressive feat of endurance to his growing list, finishing in 17 hours 39:18 mins in 62nd place.

 Thornbury Running Club were aiming to build on past successes in the 26th running of the Cotswold Way Relay, with 4 teams of 10 runners competing. 

 The overall aim of the race is for teams of 10 runners to complete the 10 Stages of the 102-mile long Cotswold Way from Chipping Camden to Bath Abbey. The winning team is the one with the lowest cumulative time.

Each stage is a race within a race. Although it is a relay, the stages have mass starts rather than a handover from the previous runner and with 118 Teams taking part in 2018 there was plenty of competition.

The race started in fine drizzle at 7am at Chipping Camden church and Rob Hopkins was the first TRC runner in 61st place. By now Stage 2 runners were already on their way with Nick Williams the fastest for the Club in Team 2 in an excellent 6th place.

Stage 3 saw a battered and bruised Sonya Bryson, who took a heavy tumble before getting back on her feet and carrying-on regardless. Paul Thomas was the fastest TRC runner in 56th place.

On Stage 4 Henry Orna put in a great performance in 19th place. Jo Emerson perhaps the only runner in the whole event who really enjoyed the extreme heat was 6th female and 51st overall.

Stage 5 saw the ladies again excelling; Taryn in 22nd place overall and 5th female.

Stage 6 saw Dylan Roberts in 8th place overall, while on Stage 7 Rob Watkins put in a Captain's performance, 6th finisher and 1st Veteran. Also on that Stage came Brian Godsman who has only very recently decided he is capable of anything over 5k, nearly 18 minutes ahead of the cut-off time.

Laura Orna took Stage 8 by storm to finish in 35th place overall and 6th female. Jim Godden epitomised the team spirit by filling in for an injured runner with 1 days’ notice on leg 9 and was our fastest runner in 38th place.

And so to Stage 10 where Magda Johnson and Rebecca Dunsford were witnessed singing and dancing their way down the hill to Weston before the run in to Bath. Andy Darton was the fastest in the final leg in 37th place.

The Vets team came a creditable 8th and the faster mixed Team 2 were 12th in that category. The other 2 mixed teams were 37th and 64th.

Thornbury runners always turn out in their droves for the Rockhampton Fun Run.  It is a flat course of just over 4 miles on roads and slightly more testing trails, which starts and finishes on the old Cricket pitch in the heart of Rockhampton village. 

Aside from the friendly competition with clubmates, the runners are also attracted by the post-race BBQ and cricket club bar, with all proceeds from the event going to the village church.

Rob Cowlard had won the previous 4 years but was not present to defend his crown in 2018. Last year’s runner up Nick Williams set the early running and was pursued by fellow TRC athlete Dylan Roberts and James Harrod, who runs for Westbury Harriers and Yate AC in the U17 age group. 

James has been setting some fast times on the track this season and used this extra speed to take the overall victory in a rapid 23:46 mins, almost 2 minutes quicker than he managed last year. Nick had to settle for second place again, but also improved on his 2017 time to finish in 24:13 mins. Dylan was third in a very respectable 24:52 mins.

Top woman on the day was Kate Browning in 15th place overall in 30:32 mins, followed by Hannah Kinlockhhaken 18th 31:10 mins and Laura Price 26th 33:10 mins.

Thornbury’s runners have also hit the hills to take part in some gruelling races across the UK.

Rosina Rowland and Andrew Darton travelled to Wales to take part in Snowdonia Trail Ultra Marathon and Half Marathon in hot and breezy conditions. The Ultra event was over a 60km course, which included 2133m of climbing with an ascent of Mt Snowdon at the end. Rosina finished in 9 hours 35:44 mins and was 23rd amongst the women and 90th overall. The half marathon also finished at the top of Snowdon and Andrew crested the peak in 397th position in a time of 3 hours 19:04 mins .

Rob Watkins was also racing in Wales in Brecon Beacons National Park. Rob has been coming back to race in the 10 Peaks races for the last 3 years, which is named after the relentless series of 10 climbs which the race includes. The ‘short course’ has 3000m of climbing over 58km to negotiate, compared to the longer event over 89kms and 4800m which Rob competed in last year. Rob had prepared well, with training runs around sections of the course and it paid dividends as he flew round the 58kms on Saturday, completing it an hour quicker than he managed in 2016 in 4th place in 7 hours 29:50 mins.

Nick Williams travelled to Lake District to take part in the Scafell Sky Race, which had an elite field of fell and mountain runners running on their home turf. The race took in some of the highest fells in the Lakes including Scafell Pike, Broad Crag and the wonderfully named Harrison Stickle. 

It was a real test of leg strength as it squeezed in 3000m over 40kms, along single trails and some rocky sections shrouded in mist. Considering the level of competition, Nick fared very well to finish in 31st place in 6 hours 37:22 mins.