Dave Beard became the first Thornbury RC runner to compete in the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) at the weekend, which started in the early hours of Friday evening in the French ski resort of Chamonix, amongst huge crowds of supporters and a rock concert atmosphere.
Dave joined over 2,500 runners who had qualified for the UTMB by earning points for completing several ultra-marathons in the years leading up the race. Their prize was the right to race over 171k on the trails through the mountain peaks and valleys in France, Italy, Switzerland and looping back to the start in Chamonix, with more vertical ascent than Mt. Everest in the process. It’s little surprise that almost 800 highly experienced runners, including many of the professional runners, had to drop out at varying stages along the route.
As well as the gruelling mountain terrain, the competitors received an alert on the morning of the race that temperatures were expected to plummet to minus 10 degrees at some of the highest points with strong winds.
Most of the runners in the UTMB have a small team to help at the aid stations dotted along the course. Team Beard included Dave’s wife, Helen, his 2 children, Mum and friends, who helped to replenish him, make a makeshift bed after 80k at an Italian mountain stop and provide much needed encouragement to get him through some of the more difficult moments.
After 2 days and 2 nights on the trail Dave made his way down the final bone-jarring descent into Chamonix on Sunday afternoon in scenes reminiscent of the Tour de France, with streets lined with cheering supporters. Dave’s final position was 1455th place in a time of 44 hours 59:24 mins.
Thornbury RC’s final stage of their road race championship for 2018 was on Sunday at Woodchester Park over a 10k course along hilly trails. Nick Williams and Jo Plumbley impressed on the day with a 3rd place finish overall for Nick in 52:36 mins and Jo was the next TRC finisher, 2nd woman and 19th overall in 1 hour 1:36 mins. Other results on the day included Nick Langridge 36th and 3rd V65 runner 1 hour 5:37 mins, Lizzie Williams 63rd 1 hour 12:28 mins, Mike Bennewitz 68th 1 hour 14:59 mins, Hugh McPherson 84th 1 hour 19:13 mins and Anthony Yates 99th 1 hour 27:32 mins.
Despite some eye-catching performances from Nick Williams and Dylan Roberts, they only finished 2 races in this year’s series so missed out on the overall prize for 2018, which requires 3 completed championship races. This left the door open for some of Thornbury’s elder statesmen, whose consistency across the whole series was ultimately rewarded. Nick Langridge’s name already features heavily on the trophy from his glory days and he took top honours again in 2018. Mike Bennewitz and Hugh McPherson took the other podium places after successful seasons. In the women’s field, Jo Plumbley was the first TRC finisher in all the races she entered but was pushed hard by Colette Jackson and Clare Watt who collected the 2nd and 3rd spots.
Thornbury runners featured in 5 different parkruns on Saturday, including 1 in Scandinavia. Henry Orna ran 19:24 mins at Eastville park and was followed by Kevin Arnold 23:49 mins and Chris Lee 28:07 mins. Tom Usherwood ran 21:22 mins at Stonehouse parkrun.
Kevin Cundy ran 22:31 mins at Severn Bridge parkrun, followed by Jodie Haines 27:19 mins, Samantha Prescott 27:46 mins, Suzanne Cundy 28:37 mins, Rachel Murphy 29:30 mins and Pamela McCleod 34:13 mins.
At Mundy Playing Fields in Thornbury, Dylan Roberts ran a personal best of 19:19 mins, Richard Jackson ran a PB time of 22:19 mins, Jonathan Greenwood 22:36 mins, Karen Carr 29:22 mins, Nigel Hale 30:28 mins, Richard Illingworth 31:57 mins and Sylvia Fox 36:06 mins.
Brian Godsman was furthest afield at Skatas parkrun in Sweden and ran 24:06 mins on a hilly course.