It’s tough going in the wind in Bungay Black Dog Marathon and half marathon

Runners take part in the annual Bungay Black Dog Marathon. Picture: Nick Butcher

Runners take part in the annual Bungay Black Dog Marathon. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A blustery wind on a bright day provided an extra challenge for nearly 800 runners in yesterday's 31st annual Bungay Black Dog Marathon and half marathon.

But it proved a good day for Norwich runner Matt Varley, competing for Norfolk Gazelles. Running the full marathon distance for only the second time, the 38-year-old forged ahead on the second lap of the Waveney Valley course after a cat-and-mouse first to win in 3 hours, five minutes 18 seconds.

He was well ahead of second man John Cox, an unattached runner, who clocked 3-13:13, with Gregory Clark, also unattached, third in 3-15:30. In the early stages Mike Pearce exchanged the lead with Varley but when he dropped out at the end of the first lap, Varley was unchallenged.

Largely because of the wind, times were slow on the course on which the record stands at 2-42:56, set by Lowestoft's Carl Prewer in 2011.

Another Norwich runner, Sabina Spence, won the women's full marathon. The City of Norwich AC runner came home in 3-44:20, picking up the lead over the second half of the race.

She finished nearly five minutes ahead of second placed Carmel McEniery, of Cambridge and Coleridge AC, whose time was 3-49:06. Unattached runner Rachel Claxton was third in 3-56:36.

The Ipswich Jaffa Running Club achieved a clean sweep in the men's half-marathon. Matthew Spencer led them home, after taking the lead from the start, in a time of 1-15:07, ahead of team-mate Brad Jones, second in 1-17:03. Another Jaffa, Wilfred Campbell, was third in 1-20:59.

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Colchester Harrier Laura Shewbridge won the women's half marathon in 1-35:21, but though she also led from the start she could not fully shake off second placed Rebecca Flynn (unattached), who was just over a minute behind in 1-36:35. Third was Eleanor Mayne, of Colchester Harriers, in 1-37:55.

Once again the event attracted runners from all over the country and abroad to put the focus on Bungay. Among those running this year was Swede Jonas Ericsson, who holds the record for the old marathon course (when the race started at the Old Grammar School field). He clocked 2 hours, 29 minutes and 3 seconds in 1985.

This time he ran the half marathon, along with his wife and son. He was staying with race director Bob Paul, who ran the full marathon for the first time, to celebrate his retirement and his 60th birthday. It was his 18th marathon in all – not many compared with fellow Bungay Black Dog Running Club colleague Ian Taylor who completed his 100th marathon and received a presentation at the end to mark the occasion.

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