Endurance runner takes on new challenge

It is a case of mind over matter for ultra-distance runner James Zarei when he takes on a challenge - and it is this mentality that has led him to run thousands of miles around the world, breaking records wherever he goes.

It is a case of mind over matter for ultra-distance runner James Zarei when he takes on a challenge - and it is this mentality that has led him to run thousands of miles around the world, breaking records wherever he goes.

So a Norfolk cross-country race should be a walk in the park for the

62-year-old grandfather, who only took up running aged 40.

The Persian-born athlete, who has become a celebrity around the world for his extraordinary feats of endurance running, is taking part in the Bradenham Challenge - an eight or 15-mile course using roads, tracks and field margins through the countryside around the village, near Dereham,

The event, which can be attempted on foot by running or walking, cycling or horse and rider, is in its third year and organisers are thrilled Mr Zarei is supporting it. But the athlete is not out to cross the line first.

Mr Zarei does not believe in the competitive side of running but takes a more spiritual approach and believes that if you point yourself in the right direction your body will take you there. Whether you come first or last does not matter.

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He said: “There is no time limit and you should just go as long as your body can take you. I love to run so much that I don't want it to finish - it is a bit like preparing a lovely meal, you just don't want it to end after you have put so much effort into it.”

Mr Zarei, who moved to London in the late 1960s, is the current British all-comers record holder for six-day racing, covering 622 miles at Gateshead in 1990 and also the World Indoor and Outdoor six-day event record holder by reaching over 1000km in both. He has also won the Spartathlon in Greece twice - a 254km race from Athens to Sparta over five mountains.

Bradenham Challenge organiser Katy Hillier said she was delighted Mr Zarei had agreed to promote the event which raises money for the East Anglian air ambulance.

The challenge is on Sunday, April 19, at Saham Grove Farm, Bradenham. Sponsorship and entry forms from Sally Reeve on 01362 821091 or via www.bradenhamchallenge.com.