Pitting a car against a runner along busy city streets is something you'd expect to see on an episode of Top Gear. This time, however, it's Alfa Romeo that challenged athletes to a four-mile race through downtown London.
The contest pits Ivan Thomas, a 400-meter championship sprinter, against a 285-horsepower Alfa MiTo 1.3 JTDM driven by hurdle runner Andy Turner and navigated by long jumper Chris Tomlinson.
The race has already taken place, but Alfa hasn't announced the winner yet. It'll tease the results in a series of films while asking the British public to guess the outcome.
Those who guess correctly will be entered into a contest to win an Alfa Romeo mountain bike. Follow the jump for the details in the full press release and check out the images in the gallery for a closer look.
MAN VERSUS MiTo: FORMER EUROPEAN AND COMMONWEALTH CHAMPION IWAN THOMAS TACKLES THE ALFA MiTo
Manpower versus horsepower. Man versus MiTo. Which will prevail around the busy streets of London?
In anticipation of the forthcoming domestic season, Alfa Romeo, Official Car Supplier to UK Athletics (UKA), has staged a racing athletics challenge, pitting MAN (former European and Commonwealth 400m Champion, Iwan Thomas) against MACHINE (Alfa MiTo) in a 3.8-mile race around central London's bustling city streets, starting and finishing at Tower Bridge.
Behind the wheel of the Alfa MiTo - which in the range now includes the congestion charge beating 1.3 JTDM-285 bhp version – are two of Britain's brightest World Championship medal contenders; European and Commonwealth 110m hurdles Champion Andy Turner took the driver's seat, with 'pinpoint' navigational assistance from World and European Long Jump medallist Chris Tomlinson.
With just one chance for the contenders to recce the route, and bragging rights at stake, the pressure was on to not only out-manoeuvre one another but also the tourist crowds and London's infamous traffic. Did the dynamic duo in the MiTo succeed or was Thomas' gritty determination enough to see him through?
Throughout the season, which culminates at the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace on Friday 5 August, Alfa Romeo will be giving a series of clues as to the outcome of the challenge, and inviting athletics fans to guess the winner.
A series of films will be available on www.facebook.com/alfaromeouk to plot their progress throughout the challenge and the full race, and finish, will be shown first on a giant screen live to the crowds gathered for the London Athletics Grand Prix.
Viewers of the films who successfully guess the winner, Man or MiTo, will be in with a chance of winning an exclusive Alfa Romeo bike worth over £550. The Alfa Romeo Stradale Touring mountain bike is exclusively designed by Alfa Romeo Centro Stile in Italy, and manufactured by luxury Italian bike maker Compagnia Ducale. Featuring Alfa Romeo branding, including the iconic Cloverleaf badge – which adorns all high performance Alfa Romeos – the Alfa bike has everything you would expect from the famous marque; style, design and technology.
The near four mile course is a far cry from the distance Iwan Thomas is used to contesting, but he was still taking the race very seriously: "I'm a 400 metre runner not a four miler, but I think I can do it. I need to pace myself and try not to get lost. Hopefully there won't be too many coach loads of tourists blocking my path. My competitive instincts are still with me, I've got to win."
Driver / European and Commonwealth champion Andy Turner says: "I'm pretty confident that we can beat Iwan but it looks like he's been back in training for the race. There will be no time for viewing the landmarks of London, my focus is on winning and we've got to hope that the traffic isn't too heavy and we don't hit too many red lights. My season is going very well and I have high hopes for the World Championships, but if I don't beat Iwan Thomas then I'm never going to live it down."
Navigator / Long jumper Chris Tomlinson says: "The pressure is definitely on my map reading skills, London isn't the easiest place to get around and we're not allowed a Sat Nav, just a good old fashioned map. I know we have to pass a number of famous landmarks such as St Paul's, the Bank of England and the Gherkin which will be a help, but I wish I was driving."
Alfa Romeo has supported UKA since 2006 and the partnership includes supplying a fleet of vehicles to UKA coaches, staff and athletes, as well as a financial contribution towards the UKA programme.
The new model year Alfa MiTo is now available at Alfa Romeo dealerships across the UK. To find out more visitwww.alfaromeo.co.uk