Athletics: Thornbury Running Club member Rob Hopkins is a Tough Guy

Gazette Series: (3815522) (3815522)

THE Tough Guy is the original adventure race and certainly one of the most extreme.

The course is about 13k in length and incorporates seriously challenging obstacles: underground tunnels, 40-foot A-frames, rope traverses, the odd electric fence, barbed-wire crawl and flaming straw bales, and water barely above freezing, and mud.

The was not Thornbury RC's Rob Hopkins' first time, so he knew what to expect – and still went back for more.

Of the 3,000 starters he finished 150th and 18th in the Vet40 age group.

On the tamer fields of the Little Stoke parkrun, there were six from Thornbury completing the 5k course on Saturday.

It was cold and bright, with puddles on the path but thankfully no ice.

The first club member to finish was Andrew Darton, seventh in 18:38.

Kevin Arnold followed in 37th in 20:58.

Malcolm Carr decided to try to run with the 24-minute pacer, but the latter's inconsistent pace wasn't a help, though he still finished in 24:51 for 112th place.

Judy Mills was 119th in 25:16, and again first in the VF55-59 age category.

Karen Carr was 151st in 26:33 and John Francksen 163rd in 27:28.

Arnold and Mills both then travelled to Gloucester for the last race of the Gloucester Cross Country League, which was held the same day.

They were joined by other Club members, mostly the over-60s. The course at Plock Court has been waterlogged or at best muddy many times over previous years so finding half the field under water on Saturday was no surprise.

In addition a fresh and fierce wind made one stretch particularly hard work, especially as the women had to run three laps and the men four.

In the Ladies' race, Fiona Eatherington had a great run to finish 14th in 29:19, enjoying a tactic of sheltering behind taller or bigger runners through the windier sections to scamper ahead when the time was right.

The only other female runner was Mills, who finished 82nd in 38:13, almost as far from the back of the field as was Eatherington from the front.

The men were able to field a complete team, with the first to finish being veteran Mike Willis in a creditable 92nd place in 39:47 and first Vet60 overall.

Bob Tyrrell just lost contact with him in the final lap to finish 98th in 40:23 –a good result as he hadn't raced for a couple of seasons.

Arnold finished in 144th place in 44:59, with Vet60 Steve Dimond getting just one second ahead of Vet65 Jerry Clothier – 153rd and 154th in 45:56 and 45:57 respectively.

At the back, Pete Mainstone was not enjoying the hard going and was 169th of 170 finishers in 51:17, most aggrieved that someone behind him had dropped out, leaving him last-but-one rather than last-but-two.

Thornbury meet at 7pm on Thursday evenings at Thornbury Leisure Centre, as well as organising track sessions on Tuesday evenings and longer Sunday morning runs.

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