Norfolk Superheroes triumph in coastal quadrathlon

More than 130 resilient racers took on the best of Norfolk's scenery – and the worst of its weather – before crossing the line in a gruelling quadrathlon on Saturday.

The Norfolk Superhero Challenge combined courses across land and sea, centred around the coastal village of Burnham Overy Staithe.

Battling gusty winds, torrential downpours and unseasonable hail storms, the amateur competitors began with a one-mile open water swim and a four-mile kayak through the harbour creeks.

Then came a 38-mile cycle race, returning through the Holkham Estate, before a seven-mile run across sand, tracks and mud flats – with the last mile an energy-sapping slog across the marshes.

The event aimed to raise �20,000 for the Wells Community Hospital but also gave the racers, competing in teams of two, an opportunity to raise money for their own favourite charities.

Among them were Southrepps pub landlady Debbie Briggs, and brother David Walker, 40, from Norwich.

After finishing the race, the pair are on course to raise �2,000 for Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, where their father Peter Walker, who died at the age of 75 last year, had two triple heart bypass operations.

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Debbie, 43, who runs the Vernon Arms with husband Paul, said: 'This was like unfinished business. We had to do something to recognise what the hospital did. Dad was there twice and we know he would have wanted to say thanks to them, so that's why we've done it.'

Her brother David said: 'We were hoping to emulate his fighting spirit, and I think we have done it today. That marsh was something else. It was horrendous, but it feels good to be over it.'

The overall winners, Aubone Tennant and Simon Amies, completed the race in a course record time of four hours, 13 minutes.

Not far behind were Viscount Coke, the owner of Holkham Hall, and his team-mate, the Rt Hon Hugh Crossley from Somerleyton Hall near Lowestoft.

Lord Coke said: 'I think we came fifth, so I'm pretty pleased with that. If Hugh had got a decent bike we would have come fourth. I just thank God it didn't rain during the cycle, because that would have been really unpleasant. We surprised ourselves on the swim – I'm not that good a swimmer, and I lost my goggles right at the beginning.'

Mr Crossley, who finished with one bare foot after losing a running shoe in the marshes, said: 'Tom (Lord Coke) did have to shout at me quite a lot.

'When you're on the beach, you feel like it is never going to end, but when you see the flags across the marshes you feel the power return to your legs. For the first time through it was quite respectable – but I think there will be some time for reflection before we do it again.'

Event co-organiser Simon Wilson Stephens said 132 hardy competitors had taken part, with an average age of 43.

'It is all in the true Norfolk spirit,' he said. 'We tell people that we just want everyone to get round and if anyone is in trouble they should help each other out. But it does get competitive between the people at the top.

'People will often get to the finish line and say: 'I will never do that again'. But by the time they wake up next morning they're ready to sign up for the next one.'

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