Running around Norfolk

GREAT Yarmouth and District Athletics Club, once again entered the Round Norfolk Road Race Relay at the weekend - along with 47 other teams consisting of 816 runners from all around the UK.

GREAT Yarmouth and District Athletics Club, once again entered the Round Norfolk Road Race Relay at the weekend - along with 47 other teams consisting of 816 runners from all around the UK. The relay race covers 193 miles starting and finishing at King's Lynn, and follows a route around the borders of the county.

Kevin Blackwell started at 5.30am and once again ran the first stage 16.3 miles from King's Lynn to the lighthouse at Hunstanton. Kevin was pleased with his time of 2-14:47.

Our newest member Nigel Hart then proceeded along the coastal path for 14 miles to reach Burnham Overy Staithe. He found the going tough and recorded a time of 2-06:46. The first lady runner of the day was Maureen England who continued along the coastal path for 5.3 miles through the sand dunes to Wells and was pleased with her time of 55:46. Handing over the baton to David Drewitt he ran stage four to Salthouses - a distance of 12:76 miles in a time of 1-57:13, the time was now midday.

Stage five to Cromer is one of the toughest stages, running along the coastal path it includes a big hill at Sheringham which sapped some energy from Derek Ribbands who recorded a time of 1-45:23 for the 8.6 miles. Taking part in her first Round Norfolk Relay Dawn Clegg left Cromer escorted by her daughter Karly, who also cycled with several other runners throughout the event. Having 'gate-crashed' a wedding at Overstrand, Dawn continued to run the 7.8 miles to Mundesley in 1-23:16.

Elaine Haggarty then ran the 9.2 miles to Lessingham in a time of 1-40:41 - it must have been the presence of the team manager Pat Brightman on her bike that helped her beat her predicted time. Diane Clark took on stage eight, 7.5 miles to Horsey escorted by Lou Ribbands on the bike. We were joined by several other clubs along the way giving Diane an incentive to achieve a great time of 1-12:50. Taking the baton on stage nine Sue Ryles headed towards Great Yarmouth, with the daylight fading she was accompanied on the bike by Lou until Diane had recovered from her previous run.

She was disappointed with her time of 2-03:34, but we all assured her she had made a big contribution to the team. Approaching a very busy change-over, Sue handed the baton to David Goodwin, who ran stage 10, the first of the longer distances run in the dark, 15 miles would see David finish at Geldeston in a time of 2-10:38. Stage 11 was taken on by a guest runner Andrew Merrell, who found the longest stage of 19.6 miles an excellent preparation for his forthcoming New York marathon. Andrew recorded a time of 2-42:58 some eight minutes ahead of his prediction. After 20 hours at 1.30am Chris Gay left Scole on stage 12 and tackled the 19.6 miles to Thetford. This stage was busy with several of the 47 other teams who had started much later now catching us up. Chris also beat his predicted time and finished this stage in 2-46:35. Our bravery award must go to John England, who has been suffering with an achilles problem since late March, having had to withdraw from the London Marathon. John ran his 13.25 miles through the forest roads and was pleased to finish at Feltwell in a time of 2-00:14 with only slight pain.

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Another team member with ongoing injury problems was Adele Postle, however she took the baton with pride along the 8.8 miles to Wissington. With daylight fast approaching we were experiencing thick ground fog whilst running through the Fenland villages, with limited visibility this encouraged a fast run of 1-15:50.

Penny Studley then took the baton on a journey of 7.2 miles to Downham Market in daylight. Penny recorded the most accurate predicted time of the day, being only 12/100ths adrift in a time of 1-05:00. Our next runner had been a support member throughout the night having joined the team at 8pm and assisting to escort the runners - Denise Goodwin now had to find the energy to run 5.49 miles to Stowbridge. She excelled herself while to record a time of 56:40.

The last stage of 11.7 miles back to King's Lynn was taken on by Sue Fraser along with Adele on the bike.

A beautiful route alongside the riverbank through to the historic town with the finish on the track at Lynnsport. The weather was now very warm, but Sue did extremely well and finished in a time of 1-51:25.

Our total team time was 30-09:29. As they say, it's not the winning, it's the taking part. This team event could not take place without the assistance of all the 17 runners, the support crew of drivers, cyclists and catering team - Fred, Roger, Karly, Lou, Julia, Peter, Margaret and John.

The team manager, Pat Brightman, who had co-ordinated all aspects of the organisation was well rewarded upon arrival at King's Lynn - at the presentations she received a superb memento for being involved with the RNR for 10 years.