22 May

Dressed To Run

Tony AudenshawEmmerdale’s Tony Audenshaw (aka Bob Hope) is one of Britain’s favourite runners.  The soap star is a marathon regular but his repertoire extends from parkrun to ultras.  And he’s got a regular gig online with Marathon Talk.  We find out more ... 

EARLIEST RUNNING MEMORIES ... 
DRIVING PAST Ron Hill’s shop in Hyde (near Manchester) hoping to catch a glimpse of the great man.  He was our ‘local hero’.
 
HOW DID TONY AUDENSHAW GET STARTED?
IT WAS ABOUT 20 years ago, the pounds were starting to accumulate and I thought - better get this sorted.  I pulled on a pair of trainers and forgot to stop.
 
FIRST BIG RACE?
MY FIRST marathon in 1994 in Manchester - finishing time - 4:24. 
  
THAT WAS RESPECTABLE ...
I DON’T remember being pleased about my performance - just thinking I could do better.  My race with the clock had started!  In 1999, I had another go and went under 4 hours and progressed from there until I was down to 3:15 but then I plateaued.
 
TIME FOR DRASTIC ACTION ...
CERTAINLY WAS.  A mate suggested joining a club and I hacked up at the iconic Woodbank Stadium to see if Stockport Harriers would have me.  Fortunately they were a friendly bunch and welcomed me with open arms.
 
THAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE?
I LOVED THE camaraderie at the club and lived for our twice weekly track sessions at Woodbank.  A more focused training regime meant that I began to see improvements in my performance quite quickly. 
 
BUT DISAPPOINTMENT WAS JUST AROUND THE CORNER?
YES.  I CROSSED the line at London Marathon 2004 in 3 hours and four, horrible, seconds.  I wanted to chuck it but Beav, my coach at the Harriers, gave me a good bollocking and sent me to Dublin later that year where I broke the 3 hour mark - joy!
 
AND IT GOT BETTER ...
YIP!  LONDON 2006 and my fastest marathon - 2:58:49.  That’s when I decided to start chasing the records.  Not Paul Tergat’s world record you understand but fastest marathon dressed as ... Elvis, Tarzan (much cooler!), Papa Smurf.  You get the picture.   
 
DID YOU ACHIEVE GLORY?
IT REQUIRED 100% dedication but soon I was in the Guiness Book of Records as fastest baby to run a marathon, followed up by fastest schoolboy.  The titles were only mine for a few short months but the pride lives on!  Seriously it was great publicity for my charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research and that what it’s all about.  
 
HOW DO YOU TOP THAT ...
YOU JUST keep going.  And that’s what I did!  I moved on to ultras and found that I enjoyed the longer distances.  This year I’ve run both the High Peak 40 Mile Challenge and Bullock Smithy Ultra Fell Run (for the fifth time).  Both events were close to home so that was a bonus.
 
THE BULLOCK SMITHY IS A TOUGHIE ...
56 MILES, and it’s not flat!  But it’s a great event and has some interesting energy stops.  Rice pudding, hot dogs and pork and pickle pies were all on offer.  Those coupled with a generous supply of milk teeth sweets (substituting for my normal jelly babies) kept me going.  My 10 hours 51 wasn’t too shabby a time, especially as I’ve struggled with my training this year.
 
Tony in Peak District
HOW DO YOU FIT TRAINING INTO LIFE AT EMMERDALE ...
IT CAN be difficult sometimes but I like to get to work well before clocking on and run a few miles before filming starts.  At home I’ve got the Peak District on my doorstep so no shortage of local routes.
 
A FAVOURITE ROUTE CLOSE TO HOME? 
A REGULAR is a 5 miler that climbs up to lowlands moors.  I take my binoculars for a closer look at the bird life - lapwings, curlews, barn owls, meadow pipits and, the occasional, waxwing on a southern holiday from Scandinavia.
 
TALKING OF FOREIGN PARTS ...
I LOVED the GutsMuths-Rennsteiglauf a hugely popular trail ultra (10,000 runners) along the Rennsteig path in the Thuringian Forest in Germany.  I did it with three mates a few years ago and although our original plan to stick together didn’t work out, we had a brilliant time. 
 
FINALLY, TONY - THE HIGH POINT?
IT’S GOT to be stuffing Roger Black on Celebrity Mastermind!