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Stage set for Tunnel 2K International

Date 20 Sep 2006

Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey Thompson reached speeds in excess of 35 mph this week as she tested out the course for an international wheelchair race which sees elite athletes break the speed limit through the Tyne Tunnel. The 11-times gold medallist will be one of 24 elite athletes to do battle in this extraordinary exhibition of speed, daring and endurance when the race returns on Thursday 28th September.

Tunnel 2K International organisers originally only planned for the race to take part in 1993, 1994 and 1995, but took the decision to resurrect the event ten years later in September 2005. Due to the resounding success of last year’s event, it will be staged again this year.

The 2km course starts at the Tunnel's south end with a 100m sprint to the entrance portal. Within seconds, the state-of-the-art racing chairs smash through the Tunnel's 30mph speed limit, reaching up to 50mph on the 1km downhill section - the 1996 course speed record stands at 47.2 mph! Then it's 1km uphill into the daylight and the finish line.

Offering the UK's largest prize fund for wheelchair racing - £2,000 first prize in the men’s and women’s event - Tunnel 2K International attracts an internationally renowned field of Paralympic and World record holding athletes.

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, who also used Monday night’s test to trial a new "lip stick" camera mounted on her chair to provide never-before-seen shots of the race, said: "I am thrilled to see this event return and even more delighted to be a competitor for the fifth time. The uniqueness and the sheer challenge that Tunnel 2K International presents has established it the highlight of world wheelchair -racing calendar. It also sets the scene for North East England as we move towards the 2012 Olympics."

To accommodate the race the Tyne Tunnel will be closed to traffic between the hours of 9pm and 9.30pm on 28th September 2006 for the race to take part. For more information on Tunnel 2k visit

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