ELVIS, Mr Blobby and Banana Man took part at the Riverbank Rollick, hosted by Thornbury Running Club, writes Matt Johnstone.

The race headquarters was based at Castle School for the first time, which allowed for an expanded field of runners and all 500 entries were booked in record time, a testament to TRC’s reputation for organising friendly and well-run events.

The course length was increased to almost 10 miles, but still retained the original and much-loved route. There was the usual assortment of wet trails, slippery slopes, stream crossing and the arduous slog along the bank of the River Severn, where strong headwinds are guaranteed.

Ever since one of the Rollick marshals randomly came dressed as Rupert the Bear a few years ago, the growing number of fancy dress outfits worn by race marshals reached epic proportions this year.

Mr Blobby’s status as ‘King of the Riverbank’ came under threat from, among others, Banana Man, Big Bird, Elvis and a sumo wrestler. Even the helpers who were dressed in more sober attire enthusiastically encouraged all the runners around the course.

Weston AC’s Kieron Summers was a clear winner in the men’s race and was able to coast home in the last mile, his winning time was 1 hour 3:06 mins. Chepstow Harriers’ Paul Murrin and Jon Carter enjoyed their day over the other side of the bridge, taking 2nd and 3rd place respectively, which helped secure Chepstow the men’s team prize.

The women’s race was much more competitive and the top 3 were separated by less than a minute. Vicky Tester from Westbury Harriers was able to pull away in the final stages to win in 1 hour 10:57 mins from Weston’s Susan Duncan in 2nd and Chepstow’s Niki Morgan in 3rd. As well as the individual top prize, Westbury’s women won the team prize.

First Thornbury runner to cross the finish line was Hannah Kinloch, who was 7th women overall in an excellent time of 1 hour 16:47 mins and capped her day by winning the 18-39 age category. Other TRC results on the day included Richard Phillips 100th place in 1 hour 22:55 mins, Ian Shepherd 127th 1 hour 25:21 mins, Sean Underwood 233rd 1 hour 36:23 mins, Judy Mills 288th 1 hour 42:19 mins, Christopher Pritchard 1 hour 44:56 mins and Rebecca Twyman 421st 2 hours 5:25 mins.

At the end of the race there was plenty of fantastic cake and refreshments (including some bonus fudge kindly donated by Cakey McCakeface) which was very much appreciated by the runners and raised over £500 for the TRC charity for this year - PHASE - a local teenage mental health charity.

In other results, Brian Godsman was at Skatas parkrun in Sweden on Saturday and ran 23:42 mins. Laura Orna and Clare Evans ran personal bests at Severn Bridge parkrun in 20:37 mins and 30:25 mins. Pamela MacLeod completed the same course in 33:08 mins.

After appearing in the recent BBC documentary about Castle School Trust, Paul Harrod’s star continues to rise as he set a new personal best in an impressive time of 19:41 mins at Thornbury parkrun. Moray Sloan was the next TRC runner in 22:59 mins, Kevin Arnold 23:01 mins, Kevin Cundy new PB 23:42 mins, Martin Smith 24:54 mins, Ian Shepherd 25:40 mins, Arthur Renshaw 28:36 mins, Chris Lee 28:44 mins, David Palmer 29:23 mins, Richard Illingworth 31:31 mins and Anne Palmer 34:30 mins.

Brendan Griffiths donned his head torch again for another Welsh night race, this time a 5-mile off-road route through the Forest of Dean in Beechenhurst on 10th January. Brendan finished in 20th place in 37:27 mins.