New fun run pulls the crowds

Race director Ian Vaughan Arbuckle insists Sunday's (10.30am) inaugural Bespak Great East Anglia 10km fun run around the heart of King's Lynn is here to stay.

Race director Ian Vaughan Arbuckle insists Sunday's (10.30am) inaugural Bespak Great East Anglia 10km fun run around the heart of King's Lynn is here to stay.

Kenyan elite runners Patrick Musyoki and Cathy Mutwa head a high calibre international field alongside a bumper entry of club athletes, novices and wheelchair competitors.

Vaughan Arbuckle believes the unique showcase for Lynn's historic heritage and town centre re-development deserves an annual place on the West Norfolk landscape.

“This event is already a huge success,” he said. “For a first time race to attract 1,577 entries is magnificent. It would be a great shame if we don't build on the momentum because you have to say it's caught the imagination.


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“The response shows West Norfolk needs something like this. Bespak have already stated they would be interested in sponsoring the event for three years. Ultimately the decision on whether to continue rests with the Borough Council.”

Vaughan Arbuckle argues the groundswell of support from first time competitors has now established the race as Norfolk's premier long distance event.

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“It's certainly up with the big boys,” he said. “The Norwich half marathon attracted somewhere in the region of 1,200 people - we are definitely the biggest in East Anglia. That shows you our race has such a lot going for it. No doubt the Kenyan athletes will run very fast and set the standard but the real story is those new runners who hopefully will get the same bug I've had from being involved in athletics for the last 30 years.”

The Round Norfolk relay veteran paid tribute to his tightly knit organising team for getting the race onto the start line.

“It's the first 10km I've been involved in but the preparation and planning required is very similar,” he said. “A number of factors have merged from the website - which was absolutely superb - to the publicity, the catchy GEAR title and Paul Evans' training regime among many, many other things.”

A £7,000 government-sponsored grant to help develop athletics at grassroots level is the event's lasting legacy.

“Roger Partridge (race co-ordinator) did a great job in securing that funding,” said Vaughan Arbuckle. “Hopefully the three local clubs (West Norfolk AC, Ryston and Lynnsport Ladybirds) will benefit considerably. I expect them to come out on the day to try and attract some of the 500-odd beginners. We want to keep those people involved in the sport and enjoying the benefits of regular exercise.”

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