Runners help mark 10th GEAR

Bespak GEAR

Following an appeal on Facebook, ten runners have come forward confirming that they have taken part in every Bespak Grand East Anglia Run since the first one in 2006. Many joined Alive Leisure Race Director Roger Partridge at the Custom House to mark the publicity launch for the tenth annual Bespak Grand East Anglia Run.

Cllr David Pope, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Cabinet Member for ICT, Leisure and Public Space, said: “When the council first came up with the idea of holding this race in the town centre, they never dreamed that it would be the massive success that it has been. To see the same faces returning year on year, many of them being joined by their family and friends, is so rewarding and exactly what this event is all about. It’s a great way of encouraging people to be more active as part of a healthy lifestyle, whether young or old, whether a regular runner or just a beginner. The Bespak GEAR is the perfect goal to help people stay motivated.” 

Runners that gathered at the Custom House in King's Lynn, were Mark Doughty (handicap 11.9), John Gaisford, Peter Drew (handicap 22.3), Ruth Barber, Brian Kett (handicap 36.0), Nick Bensley (handicap 2.1) (Former Duncan Gooderson Trophy winner) and John Turner dressed in their running shoes and sporting their medals. Other runners who have done all nine races so far include Stewart Robins (handicap 6.6), Adrian Scaites-Stokes (handicap 17.9) and Michael Shaw.

Race Director Roger Partridge added: “It’s a tremendous achievement to have participated in all nine events and we want to mark that enthusiasm and dedication by giving all ten runners special numbers on the day. They will all be wearing numbers that end in 10 so that they are easily identifiable and we want people who are lining the course to give them an extra loud cheer as they go past to thank them for their commitment to the event.”

The Bespak Grand East Anglia Run and Mini GEAR fun run is a Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk event, organised by Alive Leisure and sponsored by Bespak.

This year the event takes place on Sunday, 3rd May 2015. The main race will start at 10.45am in the Tuesday Market Place in King's Lynn, with the mini-GEAR fun run starting at 10am. The fast, flat course takes runners on a loop through the town centre, through The Walks and along the waterfront, showcasing some of the town's key heritage and retail areas. The course is suitable for runners of all abilities, including wheelchair athletes.

The Bespak GEAR is a UKA and BARR Gold-Graded event. The cost of entry is £17 for affiliated runners and £19 for unaffiliated runners. To enter, runners must be aged 15 or over on race day. The Bespak Mini GEAR 1.2m fun run is open to anyone over 6 years of age (under 8s must be accompanied by an adult). The cost of entry for Bespak Mini GEAR is £6.00 for adults, £5.00 for under 16s and £4.00 for under 8s.

There are generous cash prizes for Bespak GEAR category winners and everyone taking part will receive a quality medal and goody bag.

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The tenth-timers were invited to share their thoughts, recollections and reflections about the race.

Runners reflections

Ruth Barber (40, from Ely) “I like the Bespak GEAR because it is so flat. It’s perfect for beginners. Doing it every year gives me an incentive to keep training and I judge my fitness level each year by how long it takes me. My ambition is to do the race in less than 1 hour.”

Stewart Robins (47, King’s Lynn) “My first race was supposed to be fun, but after all the banter at the sorting office it became a matter of pride and bragging rights! It was good in The Walks but after the change to the Tuesday Market Place it just seemed to be much better. I now do the Park Run and joined Ryston Runners and now do lots of 5k, 10k, 10mile and ½ marathons and last year did my first London Marathon but GEAR has a special place in my heart as it was the race that got me started.”

John Gaisford (67, Downham Market) "GEAR was the first time I had ever run in an organised race and I was 58! I had been a recreational runner for some 40 years previously. What I found so amazing and what has brought me back every year since is the level of crowd support and the people that come out to cheer us on. My times may have declined over the years but I felt a sense of achievement when three former non runners from my family joined me two years ago. I fully expect my elder son to beat me this year, but at 67, I won't be complaining!"

Mark Doughty (40, North Wootton) "GEAR is a special run for me as the first was also my first race. I remember the never I had at the start and must admit I still get them every year. I keep entering because the race improves every year and I am particularly delighted that this year I will be able to do the mini GEAR with my son before doing the main race. The support along the route is fantastic and the flat route makes it may race of choice for a 10k personal best. I am proud that my home town produces what I feel is one of the best 10k races in the country - but I am biased!"

Michael Shaw (47, Hunstanton) "The first 10k GEAR was my first race aged 38 and I was worried I might not last the distance. Since then I have gone on to run the Great North Run, over a dozen other half marathons and last October did my first full marathon in York. I always look forward to May and the GEAR which holds many fond memories for me."

John Turner (49, Blackborough End) "I entered the first Bespak GEAR after a light-hearted 'I'll do it if you will' dare at our office Christmas meal. This very quickly turned into a new hobby (obsession) and I have been running regularly ever since. My wife has also done all but two of the events and this year my eldest daughter is coming from Manchester to join us. The event makes for a real 'buzz' in the town centre on the day with what seems an ever-growing number of participants, spectators and supporters. Friends of ours have travelled further afield to do the race and without exception they all say afterwards that this is their favourite 10k. I like the fact that the race attracts all levels of runner - charity, fancy dress and elite runners, but mostly it is just ordinary people like me, trying to get around the course and hopefully achieving a personal best. Although perhaps a little biased, I can say that King's Lynn 10k GEAR is by far and away the best running event I have attended. I am proud that our town has been able to organise such a popular, successful and enjoyable event. Long may it continue."

Adrian Scaites-Stokes (55, Ely) "GEAR is a terrific race to take part in. Meeting club colleagues and other familiar faces beforehand on the town square sets the race up nicely. Then you're off on the fast flat course which takes in the historic centre of the town, the quayside and river plus the town park. With sizeable crowds lining the route throughout there is no lack of support. This makes for one of the most enjoyable races on the racing calendar."

Brian Kett (67, Leverington) "I am a member of Fenland Running Club and am now 67 years old. I did not start running until I was 53. I do other things in the winter so my running suffers a little bit and I use the Bespak GEAR 10k as motivation to get me back into training again for the summer. The course is flat and fast, the organisation is first class and the atmosphere is brilliant. Since I started running I have done three London Marathons, one New York and one Paris, several half marathons including the Great North, Norwich and Peterborough. The Bespak GEAR in King's Lynn is still up there as one of my favourite events."