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Rotherham Advertiser

Before the event

Page 10        THE ADVERTISER, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2012



HARD YARDS: Les Crownshaw and son Stephen do some last minute training ahead of this weekend's Round Rotherham Run 121704-2





ROTHERHAM'S epic 50-mile annual endurance run will celebrate its 30th anniversary when competitors take to the start line.

The event was founded by Ralph Rowbotham - the man known as ''Mr Rotherham Harriers'' - during the steel strikes of the 1980s and is set to field a record number of over 400 entries.

Ralph died while out cycling in September 2010 but committed six decades of his life to helping others realise their potential in sport.

As well as serving as the Rotherham Harriers' club secretary and president, he also spent hours coaching and was instrumental in the development of top athletes such as Peter Elliott, Chris Rawlinson, Angela Creamer and Alan Simpson.

Olympic silver medallist Peter said: ''He was Mr Rotherham Harriers. He was a fit, active and charismatic person and Ralph was a great ambassador for the club and the sport."

Harriers life member and family friend David Haywood described the Rowbotham Round Rotherham run as Ralph's "lasting legacy".

He said: ''It was during the 1980 steel strike that Ralph began plotting the course around Rotherham which eventually became the annual race. That was perhaps his biggest legacy and it will certainly continue."

YORKSHIRE grit will be shown by more than 400 entrants to a gruelling annual 50-mile run around the borough boundary this weekend - the largest field in the event's 30-year history. Among those tackling the epic Rowbotham's Round Rotherham Run will be a super-fit septuagenarian who intends to complete the route three times in just 36 hours, a 60-year-old retiree who recently ran from John O'Groats to Lands End and one competitor who intends to finish the run for the 25th time.

The run starts from Dearne Valley College in Manvers tomorrow morning and takes in a route stretching as far north as Brampton Bierlow and as far south as Harthill as it loops the town on.a series of muscle-straining tracks and paths.

One keen runner eager to take on the challenge is Les Crownshaw (60), of Firbeck, who will complete it as part of a two-stage relay with his 38-year-old son Stephen. In July, the retired Sheffield Council employee achieved a life's ambition to complete a 900-mile run over the length of the UK mainland, raising £2,000 for Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice. He said: "I love running. Running from John O'Groats to Lands End was something I always wanted to do and it was a fantastic experience. "My wife, Jane, and I took to the road and I took my time, covering around 20 miles each day.  It's great to be taking on another challenge ­this time in my back yard - and really I'm looking forward to it."

.Roy Varo, of Wickersley, used to run the course but has now been prevented from doing so by injury.  Instead, the 73-year:old is determined to walk the route in aid of the Rotherham Talking Newspaper in a bid to complete the event for the 25th time. Roy said: ''My wife is a volunteer for the Talking Newspaper and it is a fantastic resource for people in the town suffering from visual impairment.  I'm walking the route at the weekend. It will take me longer than it has in the past but I'm determined to take part."

Another competitor who is determined to prove his mettle is Nils Hofman (31), from Stag. After shedding ten stones of his 23-stone weight with a new diet and a passion for running, he recently won a 27-mile event in Lincolnshire. Now he is keen to take another step on the road to becoming a super-fit distance runner. Paying tribute to his mentor, Kerry Booth, a past winner of the event, Nils said "I am indebted to Kerry for all his advice and experience."

Maltby's Ray Matthews (71) -- who will start running. at 5pm today in a bid to complete three laps of the course -- said it was an event to be enjoyed- not feared. He revealed: "It's a great challenge and a fine legacy for the man who founded the event, Ralph Rowbotham.  "I respect all he stood for -- he did so much for sport in the town -- and it's great to run the course he devised and contribute to its continued success."  Ray is completing the run in aid of Blind Veterans UK and Whiston's Newman School.

To sponsor Ray Matthews visit www.just­giving.comlray-matthews or make a donation to: Newman School, East Bawtry Road, Whiston, S603LX.        .

On-line donations for Les's Bluebell Wood fund-raising effort can be made at­,

To make a donation to the Talking Newspaper contact Roy Beachill on 01709 373163.


Race reports, from the Rotherham Advertiser, 25 Oct 2012


ALAN COUPE reports on the 30th running of the Rowbotham's Round Rotherham Race.


A RECORD entry of over 400 runners and walkers took, part in the Rowbotham's Round Rotherham Race - which is fast-becoming one of the more prestigious events on the international ultra running calendar.

The 30th running of the 50- mile event attracted entries from .as far afield as Sweden and Poland and it did not disappoint. Set up initially as a local challenge event by local athletics stalwart and coaching guru Ralph Rowbotham, who sadly died two years ago, the event has grown into a lasting legacy to the man who became known as Mr Rotherham Harriers.

Since switching from its original December date after several years of severe weather, the race has enjoyed excellent conditions and Saturday's event saw one of the best October days competitors could have wished for. Despite slippery underfoot conditions on some of the off-road sections, the winner and the winning relay teams both recorded excellent times and 264 runners, along with all of the relay teams, finished in remarkably good spirits.

Only a few found the 50 mile challenge too much and were forced to drop out.

A small army of volunteers, ably marshalled by organiser Sharon Burton, saw to the various needs of the competitors with seven feeding stations along the route and even a cooked meal for all finishers. Once again the organisation was first class and everyone enjoyed an excellent day, despite the abundance of sore muscles and blisters.

The start and finish facilities at Dearne Valley College were excellent and the competitors commented on the friendly attitude of all concerned.

Winner of the open race was Duncan Harris of Chester Tri Club, who completed the 50 miles in 6 hours, 29 minutes and 29 seconds, to deny last-year's winner, Ian Symington of Calderdale Fell Runners (6.53.20), back-to-back victories. Third place went to Kevin Hoult of Stadium Runners Huddersfield (7:05.36).

First lady home was Lucy Clayton of Sandhurst Joggers (8:21.30) and she was followed home by Karen Nash (Fell Runners AC, 8:40.21).

Third place in the race was a dead heat between Mafia Jansson and Sandra Lnndqvist of Team Ultra Sweden LK, who both recorded 8:44.03. Local girl Joanne Bolton of Kimberworth Striders took sixth place in 8:50.08.

The team event was won by Stadium Runners, whose three competitors had an aggregate time of 23:26.36. Kimberworth Striders (Kevin Doyle, Richard Howcroft, Joanne Bolton) were second with 25:07.35.

Harriers A (NiIs Hofmann, John Spencer, Mick Cochrane) recorded 28:30.56 for sixth place and Harriers B (Kerry Booth, Gary Benson, Alan Bolton) took 13th in 37:20.0.

The trophy for first Rotherham Harrier home went to NiIs Hofmann in 8:47.15.

The relay event was won by CIowne Road Runners in 5.13.48, to beat last year's winners, Kimberworth Striders' 5:28.47.

Striders took the ladies relay in 6:20.59, to make it a hat-trick of wins in the local relay events.

After success at Barnsley and Sheffield, the team of Claire Spencer, Anna Hardman, Lindsey James, Adelle Marsden, Helen Wade, Clalre Chapman, Samantha James and Samantha Weatherall beat their record of last year and set a new ladies relay record. Maltby were second (7:14.38) and Rotherham Harriers Women in Black third (7:34.02).

Rotherham Harriers Sub-8 team completed in 8:20.28 for 17th place and the Harriers' Pat Beighton team took 18th (8:44.12).

Most amazing performance of the weekend must go to 7l-year· old Ray Matthews of Maltby, who completed the 50-mile course once on Friday night then recorded 14:32.00 on the Saturday for his second time round and went on to complete the course for a third time on Sunday to raise money for Blind Veterans UK and Newman Special school, Wbiston; a truly remarkable three timer. 





A VETERAN runner completed an amazing 150 miles in just 41 hours as part of a gut-busting endurance challenge, before insisting: "piling on the miles rolls back the years."

 Ray Matthews completed three laps of the gruelling 50-mile course of Rowbotham's Round Rotherham Run in aid of Blind Veterans UK and Whiston's Newman School.

 Ray's super-human effort - which took place from Friday until Sunday - came as a record field of more than 400 competitors completed the event, which takes in a rough lap of the borough via Manvers, Thorpe Hesley, Harthill, Firbeck and Maltby.

 The first member of the Rotherham Harriers Athletics Club - which organises the event - to complete the route was 30-year-old Nils Hofrnan, whose achievement capped a fitness drive which has seen him shed more than ten stones since taking up running in February last year.

But super-fit Ray (71), from Maltby, overcome sleep deprivation, fatigue and mental exhaustion to cross -- finish line only 30 seconds outside his target time, just after l0am on Sunday.

A delighted Ray said: ''I just felt great. got my head down and got on with it.

"After the run it was like I didn't know what to do with myself, but then I went straight to the pub for a slap-up meal and I even treated myself to a pint."

Ray, a fitness trainer at Parkgate's Energie Gym, has run numerous marathons and endurance events in the past, including the epic 100 kilometre Del Sahara desert race.

He set off from Dearne Valley College, Manvers, at 5pm on Friday and ran through two nights, defying the pain of a leg injury.

Ray said: "After 70 miles my hamstring seemed to go. It was as though I'd been shot in the back of the leg.

 'That reduced me to walking and I was worried I might be running out of time.

"After about six hours the pain just lifted all of a sudden, though, and I was eventually able to pull the time back."

 Ray had to consume 30,000 calories on the way to completing his challenge, eating meals - one of which included two lamb chops - as he ran.

Calories have a different meaning for Nils, from Stag, who completed his transition from overweight to athlete at the weekend.

The dad-of-one completed his 50- mile effort in eight hours and 45 minutes just 20 months after he found himself gasping for breath after chasing his three-year-old son up the stairs. .

A delighted Nils said: ''It was hard work but I enjoyed it and it's amazing when I think about how far I've come.

In February last year I weighed around 23 stone and although I'm six foot two tall, that's still pretty overweight. '

'When I started running I knew that it was something that would work for me.

"Finishing as the first member of the Harriers at the weekend was amazing, it gave me a great sense of pride."

 Nils described Ray Matthews' 150-mile run - which came two years after he tackled the 100km Del Sahara desert race - as "unbelievable".

Responding to research carried out by Age UK which suggested over 70s could preserve their brain function best by taking part in regular exercise, Ray joked: ''I should have the best IQ of anyone in the borough.  I’ve no doubt running keeps me fit and younger than my years… and I’m not done yet. 


ON THE RUN: Ray Matthews during his run (left) and setting off from Dearne Valley College (right) on Friday.



Ray is pictured below during the Del Sahara desert race .



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