Largest field expected for the 31st edition of the Round Norfolk Relay

Action from last year's Round Norfolk Relay at Old Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

Action from last year's Round Norfolk Relay at Old Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

More than 1,000 athletes are bracing themselves for a gruelling event which will sweep across the county this weekend.

The Round Norfolk Relay has grown from 22 teams as a record 61 teams compete in the 31st running of the event.

The event is a 198 mile continuous run of 17 separate unequal stages starting and finishing at Lynn Sport, Kings Lynn

Whilst East Anglian teams dominate the entry, regular visitors from Bishop's Stortford, Wellingborough and teams from the London area are back again.

Teams will depart in staggered starts on Saturday from 5.30am-12pm and finish 10.30-11.00am the next day, assuming their pre-race time estimates are accurate.

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The route, some off road on sand and shingle, follows the coast round to Great Yarmouth, and then roughly follows the county boundary to Downham Market and back to King's Lynn.

This year there are 61 teams from 41 different clubs of which 11 clubs have run the event more than 20 times.

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Ryston Runners, having ran the first race solo as a trial back in 1987, will be competing for the 31st time and, like 2016, will be fielding three teams.

The runners are assisted with a back up crew comprising of cyclists, time keepers, drivers and chauffeurs. Many of the teams also provide marshals on the course. It provides an ultimate club challenge and a great team spirit.

Whilst the ultimate prize is to be the quickest team there are a host of other categories to be won. In such affection is the event held that individuals cherish the 10 and 20-year mementos that are given out. Some runners like to compete against a certain stage whilst for others the aim is to compete all stages over the years.

The previous dominance of local clubs Norwich Road Runners and City of Norwich AC was broken in 2014 by Cambridge and Coleridge. In 2015 Ely took the title and a year later Cambridge won again.

In 2016, Cambridge won in a time of 21hrs 20min, 10 minutes in front of Ryston Runners. Over a 22-hour period, the top five clubs were within 40 minutes of each other.

This year there will also see five ladies teams competing.

Last year the runners in the first two legs battled against some tough weather conditions so all eyes this week will have been glued to this weekends forecast.

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