Sunday, March 04, 2012

The First Ever Ripping Yarns Hopathon

Taking part in two Guinness World Record "Hopping" Events!

The Hoppers with Michael Palin and Terry Jones

As we are always keen to try out new sports, games and activities we jumped at the chance to take part in the first ever and possibly only, Ripping Yarns Hopathon!

Brad ‘The Fist’ Shepherd had heard word of the event through the Network DVD eNewsletter and so we set about putting a team together for the Guinness World Record attempt for the ‘Fastest 400m Relay Hop’. We would also be competing in the ‘Largest Group Hop’ Guinness World Record attempt.

The Hoppers before the off! From l-r Emily, me, Brad, David

We'd regiestered in advance so on Saturday 3rd of March 2012 we headed to Hampstead Heath Athletics Track in London to sign-in for our chance to enter the record books. The event was organised to promote the release of the “Ripping Yarns: The Complete Series” DVD on Monday 5th of March. In the Ripping Yarns episode ‘Tomkinson’s School Days’ two schools compete in a 30-mile Hop, and it was this great sporting feat we were sort of recreating on the Hampstead Heath Athletics Track!

The Ripping Yarns Hopathon Poster

Video: A trailer for the Ripping Yarns episode 'Tomkinson's School Days'

Prior to competing, all of the registered ‘athletes’ were required to put on their ‘school colours’ to represent either Graybridge or St Anthony’s.

Bedecked in the colours of Tomkinson’s school Graybridge we had a chance to speak with comedy legends Michael Palin and Terry Jones who were on hand to welcome the participants and pass on advice and wisdom in the sport of Hopping!

Best foot forward - from l-r me, Brad, David, Emily

Before the first of the two Hopping contest could begin we were taken through a thorough warm-up by a member of the Highgate Harriers Athletics Club. This was a great start to the event.

Alan 'Stormin' Norman (leather jacket) takes us through his own unofficial warm-up regimen, David, far right, almost suffered an injury during this!

The advert for the Largest Group Hop stated that you ‘only’ had to hop on the same leg for 400m! Many of the competitors found that after 100m it was going to be a really gruelling struggle! We were allowed to stop and rest as often as we liked, but had to continue on the same leg.

Michael Palin and Terry Jones check the competitors on the start line before sounding the Klaxon

In the race David Moore finished first out of our group, with me coming in second place*, Emily in third and Brad way back in fourth place. After completing the race ourselves we were all able to wait on the finishing line to welcome home the late finishers who were pushing themselves through the pain barrier to get to the end, all the while being encouraged by Michael Palin and Terry Jones!

*Emily would of easily beaten me, but we decided to ‘cross the finishing line together’ after chatting on the home straight. However by one-hop’s length and the fact that I put my chest forward across the line I took the ‘tape’ first to win by a hair’s breadth.

Our team on and off the podium. In the individual race David was the first member of our team across the line, I had pipped Emily to the post to take second and Brad lagged behind to take fourth

Here are some photos of Brad bravely pushing on to finish the race!

Brad getting closer to the end

Brad nearing home

Brad edging forward

Brad just before crossing the finishing line!

With one Guinness World Record attempt completed we had a rest, took on some water and watched the prize ceremony for the first race before starting the 4 x 100m relay. The overall winner of the Largest Group Hop 400m race was Ben Langley from Bedford who received the coveted and prestigious School Leopard Trophy, along with £500 for his nominated charity – The Stroke Association.

Brad makes a fashion statement after getting changed

Prior to the second Guinness World Record attempt two things happened. Firstly the fairly nice weather changed to bleak and rainy conditions and secondly we had a briefing from an official who went through the rules of the Relay Race.

We were informed that the race would be using official England Athletics rules. We had to remember to stay within our own lanes and were also told that if the baton was dropped during an exchange we could still continue, but would have to pick up the baton without impeding other competitors.

With the rules briefing over each of the hoppers were taken to their starting positions around the track. David was our opening runner, with Emily taking the second leg, Brad the third section, and I was to finish the race. Our friend Alan ‘Stormin’ Norman who had been coaching and advising us through the morning also took part in the relay race and made up the numbers in Team 5.

The Klaxon sounded and David was off, setting a good pace, but was overtaken by the man dressed as a banana on the first 100m. Following a clean baton exchange Emily took on the next 100m and on passing to Brad our team was looking good for a bronze medal finish. Sadly on the third leg Brad was clearly struggling following the toll the first hopping race had taken on him and was easily overtaken by a man that was hopping almost as fast as any of us could run!

With Brad running in to the encouragement of my shouting “Hurry up you git, you’ve lost us the race” I set off for the finishing line, pausing after around 70m to make sure I wasn’t likely to be overtaken and then continuing to finish our team’s race with a cracking time of 3 minutes 11 seconds and fourth place overall.

All that was left to do following the race was take on more water, try to recover and watch the prize ceremony for the Relay Race. We also got to get our team photos with Michael Palin and Terry Jones who were both really friendly and chatty and had encouraged every competitor to give it their all on the day.

Ahead of the event the organisers, Network DVD, teamed up with London and Partners (Visit London), who are looking to set 20 records in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games. This meant that if either or both records were broken then the Hopathon records would have been added to their records.

Despite over 100 people taking part in the Largest Group Hop and five teams competing in the Relay Race neither of the events broke the existing Guinness World Records. The event was still great fun, utterly ridiculous and enjoyed by all, even with all of the pain and agony!

At least the race wasn’t a full 30-miles!

More photos from the Ripping Yarns Hopathon

In a league of his own - David well out in front!

Me hopping along

Brad gets overtaken by the man in the Banana outfit

Emily in her Team St Anthony's school colours passes a bunch of rivals from Graybridge

Emily and I take a breather


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Lemony said...

Great day out.. apart from being "screwed" by my own husband on the finish line (sanctions will be announced shortly). My legs still ache!

Richard Gottfried said...

It wasn't my fault!

Richard Gottfried said...

Check out a video of the Ripping Yarns Hopathon on YouTube.