Ashleigh Thorpe excels to reach her peak

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SUNDERLAND Stroller Ashleigh Thorpe battled through torrential rain to complete one of the toughest athletics events in the UK.

The Bob Graham Round is a 72-mile fell run which takes in 42 of the Lakes highest peaks. It has to be completed within 24 hours to qualify to become a member of The Bob Graham Club.

Thorpe squeezed under the time limit by just 11 minutes, recording 23 hours 49 minutes, to become one of only 100 women to have completed the gruelling task. There is 28,500 feet of climbing which is only 529 feet short of Mount Everest.

She started at six o’clock on Friday evening from the Moot Hall in Keswick in heavy rain and headed up Skiddaw. She came off the fells 23 hours, 66 miles and 42 peaks later with the rain still pouring down and a six mile road run to complete within one hour.

She initially struggled to come to terms with the tarmac surface, but with a great deal of determination and encouragement from her team of supporters she got back to the Moot Hall just in time.

She had gathered a team of 25 to assist her, the majority coming from the Stroller ranks.

“It was a logistical nightmare ferrying food, clothing and fellow runners to six points on the run where refreshments and breaks were taken,’’ said Karen Maynard, who took on the role of logistics.

About 50 supporters had gathered in Keswick to cheer her, many travelling from Sunderland wanting to see her complete the run.

Thorpe said afterwards: “The support was fantastic and I was very emotional when I finished, it was so nice to stop.”

“We all donned dry clothing and began celebrating immediately with a bottle of champagne!’’

The Strollers have two members already in the club with brothers Ray and Ken Maynard.

Sunderland Harriers’ Larry Pratt, Calum Bark and Pete Ivin are also members of the Bob Graham Club. But Thorpe is the first Sunderland woman.

H Sunderland Harrier Alan Hodgson finished 11th in the Bamburgh 10k (37.07).

H Houghton Harriers finished third in their Young Athletes League match at Monkton. Result: 1 Middlesbrough 820pts, 2 Morpeth 595, 3 Houghton 487.5, 4 Chester-le-Street 395, 5 Birtley 337, 6 Alnwick and Blyth 243.

H There is a busy night for athletics tonight, the North East Athletics League takes place at Gateshead (7.00), while the Newburn River Run is held at Newburn and the Sunshine Run takes place at Newcastle.

H On Saturday, the Inter County Schools’ match is held at Carlisle and the North East Veterans’ track and field championships are staged at Monkton.

On Sunday, the Lambton Run takes place at 10am.