Very recently my good friend and former Norfolk Road Running supremo Richard Polley suggested that I write a column about some of the old classic road races in the county which no longer exist. 

Before you knew it, we were messaging each other back and forth on Facebook Messenger listing so many of these now defunct races. More than enough to fill a good road race calendar. 

Races such as the Diss 15, Holkham 10k, Norwich Brewery Half Marathon, Tunmore 10, York Tavern Half Marathon, Fakenham 10, Taverham Half Marathon, Pennoyers 15k, Bawburgh 15k, Sports Village 10k, West Norfolk 21, Norwich Union Road Relays, Kelling to the Norwich Cathedral Norfolk Marathon and so many more. 

In fact, the list is endless. The same in Suffolk too when looking back through old results. 

Needless to say, there are several reasons why these races are no more, such as financial reasons, much busier roads these days or just replaced by another race. 

One old road race which always stands out for me though at this time of the year was the UEA 10 miler which started and finished in the grounds of the University of East Anglia. 

If the race still existed with the same date, then this coming Sunday would have seen its 40th anniversary and 41st running of this old race what with the first one being held on December 18, 1983. 

This was initially organised by UEA staff and students as an in-house event, but once the word had got out there, top local runners from all over East Anglia turned out for it. 

Despite being known for my good memory, all I pretty much remember about the very first one is that it was a freezing cold day coming at the end of a year where I had been beset by injury after a traumatic few months. 

Top Norfolk road runner at the time Martin Pigott won the race with me finishing second in just over 51 minutes. Diss ACs Graham Bowman took third, a further two minutes behind me. 

Eastern Daily Press: Martin Pigott winning the first UEA 10 Mile Road Race 40 years ago

My memory for the following year in 1984 is much clearer though and whilst it was once again very cold, it also poured down with rain for the entirety of the race. 

This time I hung on to Martin what with being far more confident after finishing ahead of him in a 10k road race the week before. However, and with just over a mile to go when still locked together, he put in a kick which quickly opened up a 50-metre gap. 

Despite trying to go with him, my legs, hands and just about everything else felt totally numb and I had to let him go for a well-deserved victory in a time of 51:07. I once again took the runners up spot, a further 24 seconds behind him with third place going to Wally Saegar in 51:57. Walter, a US Airman who at the time was based in East Anglia had a very impressive running CV which included a top 20 placing in the Boston Marathon in 1982 in a time of 2:13:30 secs. He had also won the Bermuda Marathon in 1983. 

A year later on Sunday December 15, 1985, and after what to date had been my most successful running year, my thoughts led to thinking that this could be a good way to end the year whilst winning the race at my third attempt. I had run two marathons during 1985 in 2:20 and 2:19 plus broken 50 minutes for the first time for 10 miles. In fact, I had gone through 10 miles under 50 minutes in a half marathon as well just a few weeks before, so I was reasonably confident. 

Upon arriving at the UEA, I had a good look around to see who was there (as you do) which of course meant seeing all the usual good local guys at the time such as Nigel Powley, Graham Davison, Gregor Booth, Jason Rix, Johnny Ashford, Dave Braviner, Pete Gore and once again Wally Seagar. 

‘This is going to be a fast one,’ I thought to myself. 

However, and then just before the start I saw Jamie Harrold warming up which definitely confirmed it was going to be a fast one. 

For those who remember Jamie, albeit mainly for his track exploits and cross-country achievements, they will also remember what an awesome talent he was winning many races and county titles. 

Eastern Daily Press: One of Norfolk’s most talented athletes ever, Jamie Harold No. 463 on his way to winning a cross

We went through the first mile together along with Nigel Powley of Ipswich in 4:30 and it very quickly dawned on me that the next 9 miles were going to be one of gritting my teeth. 

As it happens, it did settle down somewhat after another couple of miles where the three of us were locked in together until around seven miles when by this point I was thinking unless I do something, it will be the runners up spot for me again knowing just how fast Jamie would be if left to the last 100 metres or so. 

So, with that I tried to pick the pace up again and whilst Nige did drop off, Jamie was far too strong and experienced to be broken even if 10 miles was above his usual race distance. 

He did say to me though “who is he?” referring to Nigel. “Nigel Powley from Ipswich. I have raced him a few times this year and he is getting faster by the race,” I replied. 

As we approached the last mile, I was hoping that he would be feeling a little leg tired whilst further hoping that his usual strong finish will at least have been somewhat nullified. 

Then with less than a quarter of a mile to go whereas we had been intermittingly talking to each other, we both went very quiet. It was at this point when my mind turned to wondering if he was about try and take off particularly after looking across at him, where he was almost deadpan looking straight ahead. 

As for going for it myself, I dare not even think about it just in case it fuelled him with extra adrenaline igniting his natural speed. Whilst we both did pick the pace up; I did hold back just a touch as I am sure he did too where we crossed the finish line together whilst being declared joint winners in 50:13. 

Looking back, it was probably those first couple of fast miles which took it out of both of us towards the end. 

I will say this though, whilst having mentioned on several occasions who I think are some of the very best all time Norfolk distance runners of the past, Jamie Harold was certainly one of the most talented ever. Someone who I personally think never went on to achieve his full potential. 

Nigel Powley who finished third, did go on to much bigger and better things though winning lots of races whilst recording some super PBs. 

So come this Sunday morning when out running, I am sure my mind will wander back somewhat to those UEA 10 Mile Road Races of all those years ago. 

Finally – one race which still takes place annually and has so much history is the Norfolk County Cross Country Championships. 

Coaching Callum Bowen Jones to victory in these championships, once in the U20s (2020) and then during the last two years as a senior, is something I am very proud of. 

However, the 2024 Championships in January are in danger of not taking place due to trying to find enough volunteers and marshals. Therefore, if anyone is willing to help and keep the great tradition of the Norfolk County Cross Country Championships going, please do contact 

Incidentally, the senior men’s winners’ cup date back to 1924, so how significant that these next championships will represent 100 years.