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Neil Featherby: How Bure Valley Harriers pair became part of Norfolk running royalty

Dave at track side shouting out encouragement. Picture: Neil Featherby

Dave at track side shouting out encouragement. Picture: Neil Featherby

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Earlier this week I posted on social media another one of my ‘where are they now?’ posts.

Brenda and Dave track side as the dedicated coaches they most certainly are. Picture: Neil FeatherbyBrenda and Dave track side as the dedicated coaches they most certainly are. Picture: Neil Featherby

It looked back at some of Norfolk’s running clubs of the past such as Norfolk & Norwich AC, Norfolk Olympiads, Duke St Runners, Woodruffe Runners, Norwich Joggers, Fakenham Runners, North Walsham Runners and the York Tavern AC.

Many of today’s clubs are made up from an amalgamation of some of those older clubs which got me thinking about the very first issue of Run Anglia when the centre pages featured a round-up of all the county’s clubs.

Well, all but one! Unfortunately one of the newest, the Bure Valley Harriers was missed out. However, they are a thriving club having been set up initially by two very well known servants to the local running scene in Brenda and Dave Hutcheon.

Whilst they are both more widely known for their dedicated roles as club coaches and in a nutshell club co-ordinators, they along with their four children were also very competitive back in their day when they were all regular competitors at road races and track meets during the 1980s and 90s. Apart from Brenda being a very keen member of her home town club Bingley Harriers back in her school days, after moving to Norwich with husband and proud Scot, Dave in 1970, neither of them gave running much of a thought.

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That is until having watched the first Norfolk Marathon in 1982, when they both decided to train for what was a one off marathon in celebration of the Evening News 100th anniversary which took place in the September of that same year.

Despite not having completed more than 15 miles in training, they both got around in just over four hours on a really hot day.

I remember it well, finishing in third place in what was my first year of competitive running as a senior. The legend that is Mike Tagg came back to his native Norfolk to win what was his final race before hanging up his running shoes.

As a couple they are more well known for their non stop dedication to the club, standing track side or even running behind the training groups with watches and whistles in their hands which normally turns out to be on four occasions each week.

However, Brenda, with all due respect to Dave, does have the slightly better record as an athlete.

Having both joined Norfolk Olympiads and Duke St after that first Evening News marathon, Brenda still had an inkling to try and recreate some of those memorable occasions of when competing on the track during her schooldays for which she also joined Wymondham AC.

Not only did she find a huge love for competing on the track again, she also found that she could more than ably compete. So much so that she went on to win several medals at national level from bronze right through to gold.

In one BVAF National championships, she took the bronze at her favourite event, the 400m and then followed this up with a silver in the 1,500m and gold in the 800m.

Her marathon PB is also one that is very creditable when clocking 3 hours 30 mins in one of the Norfolk marathons and for those who have ran that course, they will know it was not one of the better marathons to enter when looking for a fast time.

National medals didn’t just end on the track either as she also gained honours on the road and at cross country too. However, perhaps one of the most prestigious honours for her was being awarded the Broadland Sports Council Award in recognition of outstanding sporting achievements for 1997. Whilst they don’t display too many trophies in their household, this is one which is on show.

With regards to Bure Valley Harriers, initially it was just a group of people who liked to meet up and train together as friends, but needless to say it wasn’t too long before it became quite clear that they could compete at a good level against the established clubs.

At the same time, there was also a number of good quality athletes asking to join them and therefore after a meeting with all its members, it was agreed to become a fully affiliated club in April 2015 for which they have since gone on to win a number of county titles individually and collectively.

Currently, the club has 75 members and will without a doubt continue to grow. Whilst much of my column this week has been devoted to Brenda, I think it only fair to give the last word to Dave.

When asking him what his thoughts are towards the future, he said: “Exactly the same as Brenda’s. We are a very friendly running club which cater for all standards, but at the same time we also want to be known as a club which has ambitions.

“Oh and by the way” he added with his tongue firmly in cheek. “My marathon PB is quicker than Brenda’s, I have run 3:17.”

What is sure is that they are both top people who have gone very much out of their way to help others whilst also being very proud of their club. For me however, they along with many others have been and will no doubt continue to be a big part of Norfolk running.

For those who might be interested in joining BVH, they train on a Tuesday and Thursday night with further sessions on a Saturday and Sunday morning. Check them out at www.burevalleyharriers.com or email info@burevalleyharriers.com

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