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Runners get ready for 32nd edition of Round Norfolk Relay

A runner on the second stage of the Round Norfolk Relay last year. Picture: Ian Burt

A runner on the second stage of the Round Norfolk Relay last year. Picture: Ian Burt

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

A runner on the second stage of the Round Norfolk Relay last year. Picture: Ian BurtA runner on the second stage of the Round Norfolk Relay last year. Picture: Ian Burt

The event has grown from 22 teams when it started in 1987 as 60 teams will compete in the 32nd running of the Timberwolf Round Norfolk Relay.

The event is a 198 mile continuous run made up of 17 separate multi-terrain stages starting and finishing at the LynnSport complex in King’s Lynn.

Teams depart in staggered starts from 5.30am to midday on Saturday and eventually finish around 10am on Sunday, assuming their pre-race time estimates are accurate.

The circular route, some of it off-road on sand and loose shingle, follows the coast round to Great Yarmouth, before heading back west along the county boundary to Thetford and Downham Market before arriving back in King’s Lynn in time for a well earned breakfast.

The runners are assisted by back up crews comprising cyclists, time keepers and drivers. Many of the teams provide marshals on the course. It provides an ultimate club challenge and a great team spirit, rewarding both individual and team achievements.

This year the race involves 60 teams from 45 different clubs of which 11 have run the event more than 20 times, and two, Team Dune Runner and Ealing Eagles for the first time.

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Ryston Runners, who ran the first race solo as a trial run in 1987, will be competing for the 32nd time, closely followed by Norwich Road Runners with 30 appearances. While East Anglian teams dominate the field, regular visitors from as far afield as Bishop’s Storford, Wellingborough and London are back again. For both Paddock Wood and Metros it will be their 20th appearance.

While the ultimate prize is to be the quickest team round the county boundary, there are a host of other categories to be won. Such is the affection in which the event is held that individuals cherish the 10 and 20 year mementos given out. Some prefer to pit themselves against their previous stage time while for a few others the aim is to compete all 17 stages over the years.

Individually, Richard Sales of Norwich Road Runners will be making his 20th consecutive appearance and his 28th running of the event. Fellow NRR, Ray Lindsey, will be making his 25th appearance.

In 2017 City Of Norwich AC were convincing winners in a fast time of 20hours 23minutes and 40 seconds, but this year face stiff competition from recent past winners Cambridge and Coleridge AC and Ely AC, as well as local clubs Norwich Road Runners and Ryston Runners.

This is not a male dominated event with most clubs having a good contingent of ladies in their teams, with five being exclusively female.

Last year the runners in several legs battled against some tough weather conditions, leaving all eyes glued to the forecast for this weekend.

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