Dereham Runners teams enjoy marathon with a difference in Suffolk

One for the NNBR trophy cupboard

One for the NNBR trophy cupboard - Credit: Archant

Two teams from Dereham Runners took part in a marathon-length 'Ekiden' relay race held in the grounds of Woodbridge School.

NNBR 70+ category winners, SuperSeventiesToo: l-r John Milton, Jim Hayes, Malcolm Ball, David Hutc

NNBR 70+ category winners, SuperSeventiesToo: l-r John Milton, Jim Hayes, Malcolm Ball, David Hutcheon, Jean Gowing and Ken Bowman - Credit: Archant

Ekiden events originate in Japan and have become popular worldwide, and while they remain a relative rarity in the UK the Suffolk event, organised by Ipswich JAFFA Running Club, dates back over 20 years.

A record entry of 200 teams, each made up of six runners, competed on Sunday, giving a total of 1,200 runners tackling legs of between five and 10 kilometres each.

A fast Dereham Mixed team finished 16th overall, taking third prize in their class and covering the winding 26 mile course in 2.46.00 despite fierce heat.

The DRAC Mixed runners awarded shields were Ed Turner, Lacey Bareham, Will Longworth, Todd Lake, Jake Stearman and Louise Juby. Stearman, who covered his 10k leg in just 37.02, described the race as 'hot, hard and horrible. But the atmosphere was great, and the Ekiden is a unique team running event in East Anglia.'

NNBR sent five teams to Ekiden

NNBR sent five teams to Ekiden - Credit: Archant

The slower Dereham Mens' Open team comprised James Nice, Stuart Lusher, Stephen Lee, Craig Farr, Guzel Sari and Chris Searle and finished in a respectable time of 3.03.26, placing 45th overall.

'This year the club entered the race purely as a social,' explained press officer James Nice. 'So the trophies came as a pleasant surprise. Most of our mixed team ran close to pace despite the unforgiving temperatures, whereas the heat took it's toll on much of the field.'

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North Norfolk Beach Runners sent five teams to the event.

The first NNBR team home completed the distance in 3.21.29 for 80th place overall and 29th in the Men's Open category. Next came the NNBR Blister Sisters squad in 3.47.20 for 143rd place and 10th in the Ladies Vets.

The NNBR Ladies Open team finished in 4.03.18 for 127th overall and 17th in category, while the NNBR SuperSeventies clocked 4.10.20 for 183rd overall and second place in the 70+ category.

But stars of the NNBR contingent were SuperSeventiesToo who came home in 4.01.56 for 177nd overall and first in the 70+ category.

The team, comprising Jim Hayes, (71), Jean Gowing, (72), Ken Bowman, (70), John Milton (74), Malcolm Ball (84) and David Hutcheon (73) won a very nice engraved salver.