The lowdown on who to keep an eye on at the 2016 GEAR race in King’s Lynn
- Credit: Archant copyright 2011
A new winner of the Bespak Grand East Anglia Run will be crowned in King's Lynn tomorrow.
There seems to be no outright favourites, as well as no returning champions, among the record entry of more than 3,500 set to take to the start line at the 11th staging of the increasingly popular 10k (6.2 miles) event.
So the opportunity is there for perhaps one of last year's highest-placed finishers to write their name into the GEAR record books by crossing the line first in what could be a tantalisingly close finish.
Adrian Mussett (who will be wearing vest number 680) is among those expected to be among the frontrunners for the battle – which starts and ends at the town's Tuesday Market Place.
He ran 32 minutes and 27 seconds in the rain to finish third in 2015 although his best distance appears to be 13.1 miles. The Chelmsford man won last year's Larking Gowen City of Norwich Half Marathon for the fifth time.
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Jonathon Laybourn (5) was only one place and 15 seconds behind him last time out in Lynn and will have high hopes of triumphing this time round. The same goes for Carl Goose (1333), James O'Neill (2303) and Matt Pyatt (2333) who all finished in the top 10. The latter two run for home club Ryston Runners, likely to lift the affiliated team prize.
Their team-mates Nick Bensley (509), Callum Stanforth (711) and Danny Rock (1288), formerly of Ryston, are among a number of fast-improving runners that might be worth watching out for.
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Hallamshire Harriers' Andrew Challenger (2261), 33, may well be considered the dark horse having run 30.51 over the same distance in Manchester earlier this year. That personal best is still someway short of the 30.18 course record set by Tadele Geremew in 2012.
With only four of last year's top 10 returning, Lincoln Wellington's Sophie Cowper (1955) is perhaps the best bet to lift the ladies' crown. Her best 10k time of 34.42 sees her ranked 18th in the United Kingdom.
If past form is anything to go by then Emma Patel (1772) may be the only other female to stand a chance of taking gold.
A PB of 35.24 gives her a decent shout of taking the bragging rights back to Winchester.
Claire Somerton (1116) makes the short trip from Cambridge as the highest-place finisher from last year's rain-drenched efforts. A time of 36.08 was good enough to secure fourth. Sarah Stradling (3), fifth, Philipa Taylor (1547), sixth, and March's Melissa Neal (433), eighth, will all be looking for strong showings on the tarmac.
The wheelchair race is a four-person affair with only one woman, Lizzie Bennett, taking part. Norwich's Peter Downing and Mike Dawson will also feature as will last year's wet-through winner, Gary Donald, from South Woodford.
The mini GEAR fun run starts at 10am while the main event – which will also includes thousands of fun-runners – gets under way at 10.45am.
With thanks to Peter Duhig.