Norfolk sportsman who 'dropped dead' has book published

Peter Duhig winning the World Medal in Perth 2016.

Peter Duhig winning the World Medal in Perth 2016. - Credit: Peter Duhig

A former Norfolk sportsman who "dropped dead" during a race more than three years ago has seen his book inspired by true life events published.

Peter Duhig, who used to live in Downham Market, was a keen sportsman who was involved in west Norfolk running and football groups including Downham Market FC.

Now has had his book 'Tullylease: When Irish Eyes are Miling' published on Amazon.

Peter Duhig and his wife Cath on their 20th anniversary in August 2020.

Peter Duhig and his wife Cath on their 20th anniversary in August 2020. - Credit: Peter Duhig

The story is of a race, and a life, "that wasn't thought possible" where a young man has the calling of the Catholic Church but on his journey to being a priest he discovers a desire to be an athlete.

Mr Duhig, who now lives in Spain with his wife Cath, said he has always wanted to write and now had the time after retiring to the country four years ago.

He said the inspiration for the book came from a few paragraphs in Pat Butcher’s book called The Perfect Mile.

Peter Duhig on his 70th Birthday running the Valencia 10k race with daughter Hannah, wife Cath, daughter Sharon...

Peter Duhig on his 70th Birthday running the Valencia 10k race with daughter Hannah, wife Cath, daughter Sharon, daughter-in-law Marie, son Alan, nephew Matt, eldest daughter Samantha and niece Jo. - Credit: Peter Duhig

He added: "An account of the Coe and Ovett rivalry. It mentioned an event that happened in Ireland that no-one knew much about where Ovett ran a race with Eamon Cochran, and John Walker.

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"This caught my imagination, and in trying to find out more about it, and why no one knew anything about it I discovered the man who made it happen - an Irish Catholic priest.

"I approached him by email and got an instant invite to visit him in County Cork, Ireland.

"Fascinated that he was willing to talk about it, Cath and I went out to Cork for a long weekend to find him.

"The man lived an impossibly busy and full life, with coaching, friendships, his calling to the church and other personal interests.

"We had an unbelievably frantic weekend with only a couple of hours sleep, he was so hyperactive and had so many fingers in so many pies.

"We were shown the sight of the event I have written about and many other adventures in the two days we were there.

"I was totally inspired by him and knew I had to write the story."

He said it stuck with him for about eight years and "festered away" in his head until the pandemic came along.

He added: "With nothing to distract me I started to get it down on paper. Once I got past the reality and started my version it flowed fairly easily."

Budapest, European Bronze medal 5k in 1990.

Budapest, European Bronze medal 5k in 1990. - Credit: Peter Duhig

His sporting interest is not limited to the book alone with Mr Duhig taking part in races and being behind some of west Norfolk's running groups, and a 10k race in Spain took an unexpected turn after he "dropped dead."

He said: "I wasn’t breathing for at least 15 minutes, and it was only due to the diligence, and luck, of having the doctors that happened to be nearby that I am still around today.

"After smashed ribs from the CPR I awoke to a world of pain. But thankfully that was just over 3 years ago now, and I don’t now feel any ill effects from it."

He started The Wissey Valley Running Club in the Stoke Ferry area, organised the Wissey Valley half marathon and the Royal Sandringham Run in 1983.

Peter Duhig winning the Heckington Mile in 1988.

Peter Duhig winning the Heckington Mile in 1988. - Credit: Peter Duhig

He founded the Ryston Runners Club in 1986 with Bob Hancock and Ian Vaughan-Arbuckle, was chairman of Ryston and chairman of the Eastern Masters AC for another 15 years, as well being an officer of the British Masters Athletic Federation, which he is still involved in.

He said: "I have won many local races including the Bungay Marathon, Bury St Edmunds 20, Sheffield City 5k race, Holbeach 10m and countless other events around the area.

"I have also run abroad and won races in Majorca, Canada, Germany, faired very well in Malta, Benidorm, Paderborn, Budapest and others."

He said his book is a feelgood story that "anyone can appreciate" regardless if they are an athlete or not. It is available on Amazon.