TuffMan features both an 8km trail run and a duathlon (consisting of an 8km run, 13km bike then a 4km run). The trail runners gathered first for a 10am start and were joined by around 20 runners and their dogs on leads who were taking part in the CaniCross wave. With several dogs barking away, the starting hooter sounded and things soon warmed up with around 200 runners taking on the challenging TuffMan course.
Kevin Quinn extended his lead at the top of the Off Road Run Series and claimed his third win in a row after victories at IceMan and MudMan previously. His winning time for the 8km trail run was 28:38 and gave him an impressive record of three wins and one second place finish in the four Human Race Off Road events so far this year. He said: “It was really enjoyable. I started off fairly easy and pushed on as the race went on. I’ve done the whole series and they are brilliant, I love them”. There is still hope for his rivals though as he revealed he may have to take the final event in the series, TrailMan, slightly easier as it fall just a week before a marathon he is running.
Two minutes behind Kevin was Joe Croft who finished in a time of 30:48 to take second place at TuffMan and second place overall in the series standings. He was closely followed by Lyndon Harris who was second at the half way point but ended up taking third place on the day in a time of 31:28.
The first female to finish the trail run was Gemma Felstead who crossed the finish line with her trusty companion, her dog Chester. She took the CaniCross win in a flying time of 30:54 and when asked about Chester she said: “He runs in these conditions all the time and loves it. He carries me around and makes me go faster, but it’s not easier with him!” The first male finisher with his dog was Matthew Bishop in a time of 35:18.
Jackie Stretton won the female trail run in a time of 34:52 which gave her a second victory in the series this year. She did find it tough going though: “It was hard, very hilly, very boggy and very cold”. When asked what made her take part in a Human Race off road event she highlighted the social nature of the events: “My first event was MudMan which I used as a test event having read about it in loads of triathlon magazines. I thought I’d go and see if everyone was a bit too competitive but it was so social. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, cheering everyone else on and that was it, I was hooked.”
She was followed by series leader Heike Godwin from the RG Active Race Team in a time of 38:07, and Rachel Palin took third in a time of 38:45.
Many runners will have spotted a slightly unusual sight on the course in shape of a runner in a sumo wrestler outfit. This fun feature of TuffMan gives you the chance to win goodie bags with prizes in if you manage to get your hands on a ribbon from its outfit.
After the runners had all been set off, the 200 or so duathletes were soon on their way. The first leg of the duathlon was a challenging 8km run which wound its way through the singletrack paths of the Estate. Phil Holland was quickest in this run leg posting a time of 28:43. He was followed closely by a group of other fast runners led by Chris Nicholls who before today was second in the overall duathlon series leaderboard.
The run was followed by an extremely technical 13km bike leg which Steve Ferguson made his own. He posted an impressive time of 46:50, a time that was nearly two minutes quicker than anyone else on the day and it gave him a good lead going into the final run leg.
Steve managed to hang on during the 4km run to take the win in a total time of 1:35:46. It was his first event in the series and he was delighted to get the win: “The race was really cold and the conditions were really tough. I knew there were some really good competitors in the field and some big names that I didn’t expect to beat. I’m pleased to gain the title of THE TuffMan”.
Overall duathlon series leader, Philip Westoby, took second place in the race in a time of 1:37:07 to extend his lead at the top of the standings. Phil Holland posted the fastest second run leg of 15:47 for the 4km distance to secure third place with a finish time of 1:37:16.
Last year’s winner, former Aquathlon World Champion Richard Stannard, only managed seventh today and cited some tricky conditions underfoot which led to him temporarily losing one of his trainers in the mud: “It’s a shame I wasn’t really able to show my form today. I’m in a bit better shape than seventh. I might have been a bit more competitive had I not lost a shoe but hey that’s racing and you have to deal with that. It’s rare that it happens in a normal triathlon but there’s nothing normal about the TuffMan duathlon, so you have to expect these things.” He did however show his class by posting the two quickest times of the day for both transitions.
The women’s duathlon race was dominated by Freya Martin from B2P Tri Club who won her second successive race in the Off Road Series in a time of 1:46:36. She posted the fastest time in all three legs of the duathlon despite not feeling great and struggling to get into a rhythm. She said she would be back trying to complete a hat-trick of wins for the final event in the series: TrailMan.
India Lee of Winchester and District Athletic Club took second place in a time of 2:10:36 and overall series leader Samantha Aplin delivered another consistent performance to take third place in a time of 2:14:32.