Josh Cassidy and Diane Roy came in first place this past weekend in the Men’s and Women’s Race at the 7th Tunnel 2K Wheelchair Race in Great Britain. The Canadians impressed onlookers as they participated in what is called the fastest race of its kind in the world and finished in a time of 4minutes 24 seconds and 5 minutes 19 seconds respectively.
Finishing in second in the Men’s and Women’s Race were Ralph Brunner from Germany and Shelly Woods from Great Britain. Tusahr Patel (Great Britain) and Francesca Porcelatto (Italy) came in third. All four of the top finishers also participated at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games this past September. Josh Cassidy participated in Athletics, in the 800m, 1,500m, and the 5,000m. Diane Roy has participated in four Paralympic Games, with Beijing seeing her win the bronze in the Women’s 400m and 800m race. Ralph Brunner has been a competitor at each Games since Sydney, participating in the 1,500m, 5,000m, and the Men’s Marathon in Beijing. Shelly Woods won the silver medal in the Women’s 1,500m and the bronze in the Women’s 5,000m both in Beijing. Porcellato finished ninth in Beijing's Wheelchair Marathon.
Paralympian Ambassador, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, officially launched the race this year and has herself taken part in the Tyne Tunnel 2K a total of six times. In describing the event, she said that the challenge of the race has established it as the highlight of the world wheelchair-racing calendar.
“This night time event takes place through the Tyne Tunnel in North East England which provides the two kilometre course that runs under the belly of the River Tyne,” Dame Tanni said. “There is a 100m sprint start to the entrance portal and within seconds, you’re smashing the Tunnel’s 30mph speed limit on the one kilometre downhill section – the course speed record is an unbelievable 47.6mph. Then it is a shoulder-burning one kilometre straight up and pain, pain, pain all the way to the finish line.”
The Tyne Vehicular Tunnel was developed under the direction of the Tyne Tunnels Joint Committee, made up of representatives from both Durham and Northumberland County Councils. It was constructed between 1961 and 1967, and opened to traffic in October 1967.