“Hero” Bogle runner sacrifices lead in 55-mile race to rescue woman from car crash
The leading runner in this year’s Bogle Stroll dramatically sacrificed his victory to rescue a woman from an overturned, petrol-leaking car.
Tom Connell was in first-place for the majority of the 55-mile non-stop run but ended up finishing second by just four minutes.
“Around the middle point of the race I was running up the road and a lady came around a sharp corner too fast,” he said. “Her car was heading towards me and I was pretty shocked at the time but she hit a barrier and the car flipped on its side.
“I spent about ten minutes getting her out of her car and checking she was alright until the police arrived.
“It wasn’t burning, but there was petrol on the floor so I was worried that it could catch fire.”
Tom, who graduated from the University of Manchester with a medical degree in August, currently works as a Junior Doctor at a Blackburn hospital.
He did not originally intend to save a life during the run: “I imagined a nice relaxing evening away from medicine to be honest but it follows you everywhere!”
The Bogle is a long-distance endurance event around Greater Manchester. 279 people took part in the 55-mile Stroll and 26-mile Ramble on foot, and the 78-mile Roll on bicycles.
This year’s event has raised over £27,500 so far for a variety of local, national and international charities, with one month left to collect money. Over 80 per cent of participants completed the event, when previous years have seen only 55 per cent finish it.
Tom ran the 55 miles in 9 hours 43 minutes, but 44-year-old Steve Judd was four minutes faster. The organisers have awarded them a joint victory, making them the fastest to complete the course since Benj Ellerby ran it in 8 hours 17 minutes in 2003.
“I think Tom absolutely deserved to win,” said Steve. “I finished first but I can’t compete with a hero like that, I feel absolutely dreadful.”
Though Steve’s run didn’t feature any major drama, he recalled almost being struck by lightning last year. “It had been stormy all day,” he said, “and as I was running through some woodland it touched down about 5 metres away from me. It scared the living Bejesus out of me!”
The Bogle Stroll began in 1961 when a group of UMIST lecturers missed the last bus home from Lancaster and walked the 55 miles back to Manchester.
Some of the group started to hallucinate and saw an imp, known as a Bogle. It taunted the walkers, willing them to give up, and so the goal of the event is to defeat the Bogle.
Now organised by volunteers at Manchester RAG, the event has run every year since 1961 and is the longest running sponsored event in the North West.
“I’m very glad it’s over, but in a good way,” said Claire Smith, who co-ordinated the event with Alex Crabtree. “I’ve only had two hours sleep in a week but I’m very proud of how it went.
“It was a calmer, more streamlined experience than it has been in the past. Everyone has praised the 300 volunteers who helped, we couldn’t have done it without them.
“Nothing went wrong, no-one was injured, it was great!”
Richard Heathcote, a 50-year-old who completed the 78-mile Bogle Roll, said: “I feel on Saturday I saw the very best of Manchester University and its students. What a great event.
“The folk at the Union and the people I cycled with could not have been friendlier and more encouraging. The volunteers at each control point were amazing.
“There was a lot of smiling and laughter amongst the agony and the blisters.”
Asked whether he will return for next year’s Bogle, Tom said: “Yeah, I think so. I came second by such a fine margin that I sort of have to.
“I grew up in the countryside in Cornwall so I was always outdoors as a child, running and climbing trees. I’m aiming to run 100 miles non-stop next year.”
Determined to beat Tom again, Steve said: “This July I’m going to run 250 miles non-stop, which will take about 72 hours. I’m mad!”