New York here I come says courageous marathon man Craig at Dereham lights switch-on
Courageous Norfolk marathon man Craig Richardson revealed this evening that he was all set to take on the distance again next year – this time in the Big Apple.
Just minutes before turning on the Christmas lights in front of thousands of people in his home town of Dereham, the former RAF Regiment senior aircraftman - who lost half his leg in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2008, confirmed he would be back in training in the new year ready to run in the 2013 New York Marathon.
And if everything goes to plan he will use the occasion to raise money for a charity close to his heart, Help for Heroes - which helps servicemen and women who have been wounded in Britain's recent conflicts.
At 25, Craig won the admiration of people across Norfolk and beyond in April when he completed the 26.2-mile London Marathon in a time of just under five hours, 46 minutes, wearing a carbon-fibre running blade on his wounded limb.
In doing so he raised nearly �3,000 for the Norwich City Community Sports Foundation.
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He said today: 'I said then I was never going to do one again - but now I want to aim for a time of sub-five hours.
'People warned me about this: they said: 'When you've done a marathon you'll want to do it again but in a better time.''
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Craig's pal Paul Sandford, who runs the Railway Tavern in Dereham and has been involved in various fundraising events to help past and present Service people, has been helping him to sort out his place in the New York race next November.
And Craig has just acquired a new running blade, which he said only needed some fine tweaking to make it the perfect fit.
He did not apply for London next year because he said he had not done the preparation.
'I'd have needed to put in the training,' he said. 'But now it's eat and drink as much as I want over Christmas and then get straight into hard training.'
The wild weather of the early part of the weekend died down, to the relief of the Dereham switch-on organisers, who had feared that their six months of planning for the lights-on occasion would be ruined.
'When we got here at 7.30 this morning, I thought: 'I don't know if the event will go ahead,' mainly because of the wind,' said town council officer Dawn Brightman. 'Luckily, it died down, we got sunshine and blue skies instead and we said: 'Let's get this moving.' The crowds turned out, and it is lovely.'
A stiff breeze funnelled down High Street into Market Place, where a funfair, stalls and makeshift stage created out of a truck trailer had been set up.
The Norfolk Emergency Services Choir began the programme of live entertainment. Dereham Town Singers added two sets of musical numbers, and sandwiched in between their performances was one by singer Keely Rayner.
The live music programme was rounded off by local band Shock!Hazard.