Mark Armstrong: Is the Norfolk racing scene thriving once again?

Sportlink GP 2022 Valentine's 10K

Runners on the start line of Norfolk Gazelles' Valentine's 10K last Sunday - Credit: Mark Armstrong

It still feels like an achievement in the Armstrong household to get the kids in bed and actually have half an hour to watch television in the evening. 

More often than not, thanks to my propensity (and Alison’s) to fall asleep at the merest hint of any relaxation, we watch short YouTube videos. 

‘I can’t commit to something on Netlfix tonight...’ 

To be fair if you can sit either of us to sit in a darkened room after 8pm without falling asleep then you really must have us enthralled. 

We’ve watched an extraordinary amount of running videos on YouTube and one of our favourites over the past year or so has been Ben Felton’s channel, Ben Is Running. 

Ben is an Essex-based runner, who is charting his progress via YouTube and his videos are always an enjoyable, light watch... and he’s really fast. 

Ben won the Valentine’s 10K on Sunday as he out-sprinted Callum Bowen-Jones, who has been in excellent form himself recently. 

Most Read

It did make me laugh on Sunday though at the start when I managed to get a photo of Ben just setting off at the Valentine’s 10K with his camera in hand whilst other runners look at him with a look on their face saying ‘what’s going on here then?’ 

Perhaps these runners have got better things to do with their evenings than watch YouTube (like train?) 

I’d highly recommend giving Ben's channel a watch although I’ll warn you that recent videos will make you want to buy new trainers, visit Stockholm and drink lots of coffee... 

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

Anyone that can turn their passion into a career like he is trying to do has my wholehearted respect and he’s already said that he hopes to do some more Norfolk races later this year. He’s more than welcome in my book and it will give some of Norfolk’s runners a target given the way he won on Sunday. 

It certainly was a great way to start the Sportlink Grand Prix 2022 series – it was an impeccably organised event as usual by the Norfolk Gazelles. 

I was struck by the sheer volume of runners at the event – more than 750 runners took part – which is so heartening to see. 

It’s no secret that some local running races have struggled, understandably, through the pandemic. 

However, Sunday certainly gave hope that we can get back to the thriving Norfolk race scene we saw pre-2020. There’s a great calendar lined up for 2022 – the Wymondham 20 is the next race in the GP Series at the start of March but there are lots of options again for runners wanting to get their racing fix. 

I’ve got my eye on the Trowse 10K in April, which is a bit of a favourite, given how much I used to run around that area when I was in the office every day (I did break my ankle around there but that was the conker’s fault... not the area...) 

Other than that, I’m just going to see how my training progresses given how stop-start I have been with niggling injuries for the past year or so. 

Getting the body right has to be the number one priority and only then will I nail down some races – if that isn’t until the summer months then so be it. 

It’s hard watching other runners from the sidelines when you’d like nothing more than to be in the pack with them. But I know that it won’t always be that way as long as I’m patient – one of the most difficult but sought-after qualities a runner can have. 

In the meantime, I’ll just have to live my running life vicariously through Ben’s channel, safe in the knowledge that when I’m ready to race again there will be plenty of options for me to choose from.