Opinion: Four Norfolk runs you should give a try in 2019
- Credit: Richard Knibb
Guest running columnist David Powles recommends four of his favourite Norfolk running races.
Norfolk is blessed with some fantastic parkruns. Eaton Park was my first, but at times now feels a bit too busy, Colney is brilliant for a bit of cross-country running and Blickling is beautiful on a sunny day, as long as you don't mind the odd sheep dropping here and there. But there's something brilliant about running along the coast, with the ocean as the backdrop, and for that reason I'm picking Gorleston parkrun as my favourite. If timings are important to you it's a fast course up and down the paths which run along the back of the beach and it never feels too busy. A disclaimer, however, I've never tried it in the height of winter when it's blowing a hoolie.
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If speed is your thing then get along to the Brecks 10k, just outside Thetford. I think both of my fastest 10k races have come there simply because it's so flat. It's also a lovely run through the forest, really well organised and has a cracking atmosphere. However, my top choice just has to be Run Norwich. For years it seemed like having a mass participation running event in the city centre was not possible - but then Run Norwich came along. The fact it's a special run is highlighted by the fact that for the week before it's held it seems like everyone is talking about it. Don't be fooled though by the county's reputation of being flat, the course is tough with several killer hills and I've never found it an easy place to get a PB. However, the pleasure of having hundreds of people clapping and cheering as you run around your home city cannot be replicated.
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BEST HALF MARATHON
The fact I'm still trying to live out my failed football dreams in the Norwich and District Sunday League means in the winter my running takes a bit of a dip. It also means that there are a couple of Summer half-marathons I keep returning too. The Bungay Half is one I'd highly recommend. Lovely scenery, plenty of crowd support and excellently organised. But it's a tough one and the first six miles of repeated hills either give you a great start to build on or make the second half absolutely evil. Therefore I'm plumping for the Great Yarmouth Half as my 13.1 mile run of choice. It starts in Gorleston and takes you across to Somerleyton Hall and back. Being able to daydream about life in the grand surrounds of the hall certainly helps take your mind off the painful miles nine and 10.
For no apparent reason last year I decided to enter a dune race - The Nelson Knee Knobbler to be precise, which comprises of 11kms along the top of the cliffs at Winterton-on-Sea. It tells you all you need to know that it was the first race I booked to enter in 2018. It's a tough one but an absolute beauty as you trundle up and down sand dunes, past the famous Horsey seals (they never cheer) and along the coastal path where you are warned to watch out for snakes! You'll never get a PB doing a dune run so instead all you can do is get your head down and enjoy the challenge. That feeling of having conquered the run cannot be beaten - especially when you accidentally drop your water bottle in the first mile and are left with a couple of mouthfuls to get you through in the 25degree heat - as happened to me this year.
What runs are on your Norfolk bucket list? Visit the Run Anglia facebook page to have your say.