Long Distance Challenges - a celebration

Each of us has our own benchmark for success. Maybe with the right inspiration that can change...

During the early years of marathon mania in the UK, with the birth of the Great North Run and London Marathon in 1981, a small group of running friends in West Lancashire got caught in the jogging boom of the 1980's. These runners established an informal club for runners alongside the popular football club at Newburgh as mentioned on the History page. Without track facilities or coaching, the runners relied on advice and inspiration from within their ranks. At some point, an unconventional challenge grabbed the attention of some runners at the club, leading them off the roads and onto adventures in the hills.

Each longer and tougher off-road run was a step into the unknown. It took only two or three of them to support each other in these endeavours, to broaden their horizons and to try out niche events, so that it wasn't long before the tougher challenges sought by a few became a widespread lurch towards fell running and racing within the club, and eventually ultras overseas. Each new member was told tales of adventure dating back to the 1990's; of running over hilltops and down dales, running alongside hardy fell folk who were both esteemed as sporting legends in their own right, yet shared a pint and a natter after the race. The spirit of adventure of Newburgh Nomads and its culture of reverence for quality running and support of fellow runners was born.

Knowledge of certain routes and challenges has been passed down from one generation of club members to the next, each inspiring and supporting those who come after. There are the racing snakes, the orienteers, the long distance walkers, the campers, the climbers, the mountaineers and the "organisers". All have shaped the club and added to the experience of their fellow runners.

There are few of us Nomads who would have contemplated the challenges below if it were not for a chance decision to come along one Tuesday night to run with a small bunch of strangers. Only because those strangers have gone and done incomprehensible things before, has the belief snowballed into reality. This club has been graced by a small but tenacious list of members who seem so unassuming, so average, so... "just like me", yet have achieved what seems, to the uninitiated, to be quite outlandish and impossible. Following in their footsteps and with their unwavering support is why we ever had the courage to try.

This list of achievements is a celebration of Newburgh Nomads, the club, it's members and the spirit. It may have sounded corny when someone said to me "The club is more than its members, but would be nothing without each and every one".  But, if you know these events and challenges and you know those who have completed them, you'll know they are far from average.

There's no doubt that a road 10 miler or marathon requires training and persistence. However, there's the extra mile or two involved in these challenges. It takes even more persistence and belief; support from those who have done it before matters so much more for a 8+ hour effort in driving rain and wind on an unmarked course through heather, peat bogs and scree. All of those listed below have left their mark on the club, and the club has in someway left it's mark on them too.

This is the Newburgh Nomads hall of fame for special achievements, researched and compiled by David Ralphs...

"With Newburgh Nomads 40th anniversary coming up this year I thought I would compile a list of the club’s achievements that I know about. Please let me know if I have missed your name off any of the challenges.
I believe each name represents a massive team effort by the Nomads to help that person achieve their goal. For such a small club (25 members) to have completed so many of the top mountain running challenges in the world is a credit to the team spirit, camaraderie, encouragement and selflessness of all the Nomad runners."

The Bob Graham Round
Chris Lyon, Kevin Wallbank, Peter Jackson, Graham Finch, Andy Quickfall, Alex Miller, Brendan Bolland, Brian Kennedy, Chris Lloyd, Wally Coppelov, John Thompson, Andy Brookfield, David Ralphs, David Reynolds, Friedrich Duenbier, Mike Hitchmough, Chris Usher.

The Joss Naylor Challenge
Harry Johnson (v75), David Ralphs (v50), Mike Hitchmough (v55).

Lakes Meres and Waters
John Thompson, Kathy Sutton, David Ralphs.

Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc (UTMB)
John Thompson, David Ralphs, Wally Coppelov, Friedrich Duenbier.

T.D.S. at the U.T.M.B.
David Ralphs, Wally Coppelov, Friedrich Duenbier.

C.C.C. at the U.T.M.B.
Mike McCabe, Kayleigh Ralphs, David Ralphs.

Zugspitze Ultra Trail Germany
John Thompson, Mark Culshaw, Wally Coppelov, Friedrich Duenbier, David Ralphs.

The Cumbrian Traverse
Wally Coppelov, Friedrich Duenbier, David Ralphs, John Thompson.

Wainwright 7
John Thompson, David Ralphs

Abrahams Tea Round
John Thompson, David Ralphs, Kathy Sutton, Daryl Mullen, Chris Usher, Friedrich Duenbier, Jim Maxfield.

Gerry Charnley Round
David Ralphs (solo), John Thompson (solo).

Lakeland 100
David Ralphs, John Thompson, Wally Coppelov, Jim Maxfield, Kathy Sutton, Jamie Munro.

Freeman Round
John Thompson.

Special mentions
  • Richard Harris completing the Liverpool to Leeds 127 mile race.
  • Brian Kennedy sub 3 hour Marathon.

(Many of the UK long distance hill challenges can be found at the gofar website)