Runners ready for London challenge

With the London marathon less than seven weeks away, the weekend proved to be perfect for several North Norfolk Beach Runners to test out their winter endurance training.

Six runners from the Cromer club travelled to the Leicestershire Wolds to take on the arduous Bevoir Challenge, a feast of heavy mud and often difficult route finding.

Club president Jim Hayes found following the prescribed route particularly taxing but still managed to finish the 26-mile race in a highly creditable 4hr 34min for 54th place.

Also running the full distance were Christina Walker and Lucy Collyer who finished 17th and 18th respectively in the ladies' marathon with Dave Spooner finishing with them in 5hr 08min.

Opting for the shorter 16-mile race were John Leach and Malcolm Ball. John's recent improved form continued as he clocked an impressive 2-16:06 for 33rd place in a field of 394 whilst the evergreen Malcolm Ball comfortably beat more than half the field to cross the line in 3-08:12 at the age of 78.

Taking on the more straightforward challenge of Wymondham's Spring 20 Mile Race, Chris Merrylees and Colin Stark looked to be in great marathon form as they came in 23rd and 24th respectively in a field of 240 runners.

Chris outpaced distance specialist Colin Stark in a sprint for the line to clock an impressive 2-15:24, a time that will surely take him to a sub three-hour marathon in April.

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John Christopher ran an excellent race for 2-21:11 and 38th place whilst Matt Dickens also looked to have put in some good distance training over the winter months as he finished 93rd in 2-39:12.

The Beach Runners' youngest member, Carla Hall, 18, showed great promise as she finished in a highly creditable 3-05:11 and Shelley Burton also got round the challenging circuit of Wymondham lanes in good style to cross the line in 3-18:44.

One of the club's ultra distance specialists, Vinnie Purdy, ticked off his fifth marathon of 2011 at the Bedford Clanger just a week after finishing North Norfolk's Poppyline 50-mile challenge in a remarkable 10hr 30min.

The previous weekend saw the last of the Norwich Road Runners Horsford Cross Country races. The overall winner Beach Runner Chris Merrylees in a superb 42:38 with Paul Muffett taking the 50-plus age group prize with 47:02. Ian Wade ran strongly for sixth place in the 50-54 category.