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Club's 29th appearance at annual event

By Pete Woodhouse

The longstanding 32nd Round Norfolk Relay took part this weekend and Fenland Running Club submitted two teams, countless volunteers and bikers to support its 29th appearance at the event.

The course of the RNR mirrors the county boundary over a distance of 198 miles, divided into 17 unequal stages. Norfolk's enormous skies, vast sandy beaches, open spaces and picturesque towns and villages, with their attractive cottages and medieval churches, all contribute to making the race a unique running experience.

But it is likely to be the spectacular skies at sunset and sunrise which will provide the most vivid memories.

Shane Draper. (4350583)
Shane Draper. (4350583)

The race starts at Lynnsport in King's Lynn and then, from Hunstanton, follows the stunning coastline through 5 multi terrain stages taking the Norfolk Coastal path as far as Cromer. The 40 miles (4 stages) from Cromer through to Horsey Mill and on to Belton are on the road. By the time the teams reach Belton it is dark.

From Belton, the course turns south-west following main roads for 62 miles (4 stages), all run in darkness. It is during these mostly flat stages through Breckland that the time stagger unwinds and the race is invariably won or lost. From Feltwell (Stage 14) the four remaining stages covering the last 33 miles are run across the flat Fens through the early morning mist. Finally, following the Great Ouse River into historic King's Lynn, runners pass by the old Custom House, through the famous Tuesday Market Place and then on to the finish at Lynnsport.

Unique in character and concept, the race presents not only a tough physical challenge, but also a test of the organizational prowess of a club. Run over 24 hours, without a break (and carrying a baton), the event is much more than just a normal relay for it requires special preparation, planning and support. It is not an event for a club without a spirit of adventure. But the sense of satisfaction and achievement after completing the race is simply 'second to none'.

FRC at Round Norfolk Relay (4350576)
FRC at Round Norfolk Relay (4350576)

A staggered start, based on anticipated finishing times, ensures that teams of similar ability start together, with faster teams chasing. If the stagger works, all teams should finish the race by 9:15am to 10am on the Sunday. With the first teams starting at 5:30 am on Saturday this allows for teams running an average of 8 mins 40 secs per mile throughout the course.

Results – Fenland's Mixed Team (In stage order 1 – 17) consisting of: Andrew Plume (16.32 miles) 1:52:11, Sean Connolly (13.75 miles) 1:32:29 - 3rd overall for this stage, Carol Bowett (5.76 miles) 0:47:02, Rod Sinnott (11.14 miles) 1:25:04, Stuart Follen (10.81 miles) 1:20:19, Maire Kay (7.90 miles) 1:01:54, Claudia Milburn (9.24 miles) 1:11:51, Sarah Gauvin (7.52 miles) 0:58:59, Paul Girffin (16.60 miles) 2:12:48, Graham Milham (18.13 miles) 2:06:51, Nicky Jennings (12.45 miles) 1:38:34, Ryan Jones (19.67 miles) 2:06:51, Martin Jennings (13.25 miles) 1:22:24 - 3rd overall on this stage, Gemma Rose (7.27 miles) 0:53:17, Bethan Everson (10.59 miles) 1:09:21 - 2nd senior lady overall on age%, Ellen Connolly (5.49 miles) 0:39:48 and Shane Draper (11.73 miles) 1:19:11 ran a phenomenal time of 23hrs 38 mins and 52 secs over 197.5 miles making the average mile pace 7 mins and 11 seconds.

Steve Bennington. (4350579)
Steve Bennington. (4350579)

FRC's Open team (in stage order 1 – 17) consisting of Andre Pittock (16.32 miles) 2:08:55, Jane Greenwood (13.75 miles) 2:06:58, Denise Griffin (5.76 miles) 0:56:44, Neil Bailey (11.14 miles) 1:56:54, Alan Bird (10.81 miles) 1:35:41, Jac Richards (7.90 miles) 1:10:31, Larissa Follen (9.24 miles) 1:25:47, Ian Milburn (7.52 miles) 0:59:20, David Brammer (16.60 miles) 2:12:32, Jay Gilbert (18.13 miles) 2:30:20, John Chapman (12.45 miles) 1:38:56, Richard Agger (19.67 miles) 2:38:19, Andy Wicklen (13.25 miles) 1:45:20, Lewis Saunders (7.27 miles) 0:45:58 – 3rd overall for this stage, Daniel Spiller (10.59 miles) 1:27:49, Carly Read (5.49 miles) 0:48:03 and Richard Hammond (11.73 miles) 1:17:07 ran a phenomenal time of 27hrs 25 mins and 13 secs over 197.5 miles making the average mile pace 8 mins and 20 seconds

Meanwhile lone gunman Steve Bennington took on the Leicester 10k Starting and finishing in beautiful Abbey Park. The route takes the runners across the Grand Union Canal and into the city centre, past the Richard III visitor centre, and the cathedral. Runners will then twice cross the River Soar before ending with a final lap of the park. Continuing the success Steve completed this course in a ground breaking 44:07 which was a (PB) by 3.5 minutes, 69th out of 1,174 runners and 9th in his age category. This is something Steve has worked very hard to achieve this year and its paid off.

Report: Tony Foice-Beard / Sarah Gauvin.

Photos: Tim Chapman / Steve Bennington.

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