A marathon way to raise funds

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis LeagueNorth Walsham Sports Centre is gearing up to host Sunday's fourth 12-hour table tennis marathon in what is hoped to be the biggest and best marathon to date.

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League

North Walsham Sports Centre is gearing up to host Sunday's fourth 12-hour table tennis marathon in what is hoped to be the biggest and best marathon to date.

The inaugural marathon held at Cromer in 2002 raised £721 for the BBC's Sports Relief Appeal, before the baton was passed to North Walsham, with £950 raised in 2004. And the four-figure barrier was broken for the first time in 2006 when the final total came in at £1,100.

The organisers hope to get close to that figure this time, with the current total after the lead-up events standing at £649.50.

The 12 hours of continuous table tennis will start in the gym at 9am and the first match will see Matt Robinson take on team-mate Philip Stone.

However, the opening match will have a twist to it, as both will be playing using their (wrong) left hands!

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Then the friendly matches will continue on the main table, all the best of three sets to 11, to ensure the table tennis is continuous throughout the day, while anyone is welcome to come and have a game or simply hit on the three other available tables.

With the marathon co-inciding with the Beijing Olympics, the day has been given a special Olympic theme with specially engraved gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs throughout the day. These will be awarded to the top three finishers in each of the three special fun tournaments, meaning that for the first time third place play-offs will take place in each tournament to determine the bronze medal winner.

The hard bats tournament takes place in the morning, with the old-style hard bats provided. And with several rubbers being banned from next season, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top, with every player forced to compete on an equal footing.

The random doubles event, where the doubles pairings are drawn at random and stay the same throughout the competition, makes its third appearance at the marathon.

The evening sees the return of Superset, where matches are the best of one set to 15 points with no deuce. The hard bats and random doubles events will be contested over the best of three sets to 11, with the gold and bronze medal matches the best of five.

More gold medals are available to the winners of the four-minute challenge that runs throughout the day, with the champions the pair who can string together the longest rally within four minutes.

And you don't even have to take to the table to win a gold medal - the highest scoring adult on the Ping Pong Plinko game will win some wine, the highest scoring under-18 will win some Sport England goodies, but it's the highest score overall that will also bag the gold medal.

At 7:30pm the marathon will move down from four tables to just the one for the concluding fun and games, which start with the two heats of the Winner Stays On game.

Then Robinson and Stone return with their one-attempt only sweepstake. Whoever bets on the correct number of strokes in that rally will win half of the money from the entries, with the other half going to the charity.

The two heat winners from the Winner Stays On game will take part in a two-minute turbo table tennis final.

The 12 hours of table tennis will be wrapped up by the traditional exhibition match when Steve Sadd, who played in 2006, will return with at least one of the Dares (Lindsey and Mark), who took part in 2004.

A charity auction will then take place. Items include a shirt signed by the English table tennis team (including stars of the BBC's Olympic Dreams series Darius Knight and Paul Drinkall).

Everyone is welcome to the marathon. There is free entry, although everyone will be strongly encouraged to enter one of the competitions.

For more information contact event organisers Chris Johnson (01692 405416) or Philip Stone (01692 406576) or visit the website at http://seriouslybatty.bravehost.com