Thousands flock to tackle Nutley’s ‘Beast’

Army hero James Simpson tackles 'The Beast'
Army hero James Simpson tackles 'The Beast'
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More than 2,500 runners from Europe, America, Australia and across the UK braved torrential rain and high winds at one of the world’s toughest sporting events, the 25km Spartan Race Beast, held at Pippingford Park, Nutley, on Sunday.

Thousands lined the route, studded with more than 50 obstacles including monkey bar straddles, 25 foot rope climbs, 20 foot semi-submerged ditches and drainage tunnels plus the notoriously tough ‘Atlas Stone Lift’.

Featured in the hit television series “The World’s Strongest Man”, the Atlas Stone is a spherical, solid-granite boulder weighing over 30 kilos. Spartan racers had to pick it up and carry it 20 meters, staggering across a boggy field.

Among the competitors was British Army hero James Simpson, who made UK sporting history as the first British double amputee to attempt a Spartan Race. James, 27, from Rawdon, near Leeds, tragically lost both his legs in a blast in Afghanistan but spent seven hours on the course before being forced to pull out.

L/Bdr Simpson, of 5th Regiment, Royal Artillery stepped on an improvised explosive device as he returned from a foot patrol in Helmand. He lost both his legs above the knee and also damaged both his arms in the blast in November 2009.

James, who was running ‘The Beast’ to raise money for the national Armed Forces charity SSAFA that supports injured servicemen and their families, said: “I completed 10 kms of the course but the weather and the conditions were just too bad. It was not do-able. It was way too boggy. I was sinking into the mud up to my waist.

“If we had kept going, it would have taken till four in the morning to complete the course and we were worried about the dropping temperatures after nightfall. I really enjoyed the race and the course was amazing. But after seven hours, it was time to call it a day. I’d like to tackle the Beast again, in a warmer climate, possibly travel to somewhere like Texas.”

With £10,000 prize money up for grabs the Elite heat was won in under two hours, by the fastest man, building surveyor Jonathan Albon, aged 24, from Great Dunmow, Essex, and by the fastest woman racer, Katie Keeble, aged 31, a nurse from Ipswich. She took 2hrs 40mins.