“The Gauntlet Trophy” and my love of long distance events

By Brian Layton

As I have recently been awarded the “Gauntlet Trophy”, for the fifteenth consecutive year, I thought I would write an article about it. (You can see a video of the award presentation here.) As there is not a lot going on at the moment—you know why—I thought you might need some help getting off to sleep these nights.

I’ll start with how it came to be and, well, finish some time later. So, here goes.

At the 2006 TRC AGM, a then good member of the club, one Mike Gaunt, made an official proposal for a new trophy. He, with a very eloquent address, I seem to recall, proposed that it be awarded to the member who completed the most event miles in the calendar year.

With almost no objection, you know who you are, it was agreed by the members present to be a good idea. He proposed to call it the “Forrest Gump Cup”, as a nod to Tom Hanks’s exploits in the said film. He also provided a comprehensive set of rules for what would count as qualifying miles, along with the cup itself. A new TRC trophy was born.

Mike then wanted to award it for the previous year, 2005. After a short period of requests for mileage, and very much to my surprise, I found that I had won the trophy for its inaugural year, having completed 761 miles of fun.

Although it definitely wasn’t Mike’s intention, winning the cup attracted some rather hurtful comments due to the character that Tom Hanks played in the film. If you’ve seen the film you may know what I mean. Anyway, having won the cup for the first three years, the then committee, God bless them, decided to change the name. They called it the “Gauntlet Trophy” (after Mike Gaunt), acquired a lovely new trophy, and gave me the cup to keep. 

Fast forward to 2014, my tenth consecutive “Gauntlet Trophy” win. As there was only one trophy, for one winner, I felt it rather unfair that the women were not getting a look in. So, with the full support of the committee, and the fact that a man had won the previous ten years, I proposed a “Women’s Gauntlet Trophy”. With their agreement I bought, built and presented a women’s trophy for 2015. We thus now have “The Women’s M.G. Gauntlet Trophy” and “The Men’s M.G. Gauntlet Trophy” in place for the foreseeable future.

Fast forward to 2019 and, you’ve guessed it, my fifteenth consecutive “Gauntlet Trophy” win. Only this time I am pleased to confirm that my good friend, Kim Reed, has won her fifth consecutive “Gauntlet Trophy”—the only female winner since its introduction.

Now, to put this trophy into perspective and to further help you nod off, I’ll give you some random stats:

  • My lowest mileage year was my first, 2005, at 761 miles and my highest was 1,615.5 miles in 2016.
  • In the last 15 years I have competed in 646 different events, ranging from a 5km race to a 203.4 mile continuous epic.
  • The total mileage covered in those 15 years was 19,157.75 miles. 
  • I have therefore averaged 43.07 events per year for 15 years.
  • I have also averaged 1,277.18 miles per year for 15 years.
  • The stat that did really surprise me is this: for the last 15 years, that’s 780 consecutive weeks, I have AVERAGED 24.56 miles of events per week, EVERY WEEK for 15 years.

I feel rather fatigued just typing this. To finish off (thank God I hear you gasp), I would just like to say that I have not done a single mile “just because of this trophy”. I really do love very long events, sometimes back to back, where the journey is the most enjoyable part. and never quite knowing what the outcome might be.

During this time I have done well over 100 events of 50+ miles, some 26 events over 100 miles and 2 events over 200 miles. I have been privileged to visit, and compete in, some absolutely fabulous parts of the British Isles and abroad and I would not have wished to miss a single mile of it.

As you might now imagine, I am soooooooo looking forward to some sort of normal returning. As I will be 70 years young early next year, I was planning to have a really big year, but that now looks very much in doubt.

Also, as the Equatorial Circumference of the Earth is said to be 24,901 miles, I would like to achieve this journey, figuratively speaking, and through my events, at least before I finally hang up my clogs. About another 6,000 miles to go, so come on COVID, bugger off.

As always, yours in sport and looking forward to seeing some of you soon.

Brian Layton.