Dereham Runners tackle Round Norfolk Relay

A runner on the first stage of the Round Norfolk Relay. Picture: Ian Burt

A runner on the first stage of the Round Norfolk Relay. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The celebrated Round Norfolk Relay race held over the weekend saw Dereham Runners AC pit two teams of 17 members against a picturesque but punishing 198 mile long course around the county boundary.

Now in its 31st year, the unique relay attracted a record entry of 62 teams, making a total of 1,054 competitors running through the day and night, assisted by a similar number of marshals and support crews.

Beginning at the Lynnsport complex in King's Lynn at 8am on Saturday, the circular route followed the county border in a clockwise direction, starting with challenging offroad stages along the Norfolk Coastal Path through Hunstanton, Wells and Cley, then mixed terrain legs taking in Sheringham, Cromer and Great Yarmouth.

Long night road runs then took competitors west through Scole, Diss, Thetford and Downham Market before finally ending back at Lynn.

Distances across the 17 unequal stages range from 5.49 to 19.67 miles, while the ages of the 34 Dereham Runners involved spanned 17 to 61.

The Dereham Club team finished in 25 hours and 36 minutes, with Dereham Open only just behind in 26.09.

The winners of the ultimate RNR prize, of fastest team, were City of Norwich Athletic Club.

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Highlights for Dereham included a new personal best over stage two (Hunstanton to Burnham Overy Staithe) for Elizabeth Daly, who covered the tricky 14 mile multi-terrain leg in 1.42.40, an epic feat which also secured her a stage win trophy as first lady.

Jake Stearman, 17, proved one of the fastest younger runners on the course, completing stage eight (Lessingham to Horsey, 7.52 miles) in just 42.10.

A week earlier, sisters Sally Lee and Louise Juby both warmed up for the RNR by competing in the Great North Run, the hugely popular half marathon race staged between Newcastle and South Shields. Louise placed highly as 31st female finisher in a field of 57,000, covering 13.1 miles in just 1.29.34 — a new personal best by almost 90 seconds.

Younger sister Sally crossed the line in 1.53.44, and raised £176.30 for the charity Nelson's Journey.

Elsewhere Jacquie Wood undertook a 22 mile Race for Life Hike in aid of breast cancer from Wells to Hunstanton, and came first overall in just over six hours.