Stories inspired by running in Norfolk and beyond

A little bit of Unthank Road atop a Welsh Brynn and why I didn’t run the Swansea Half Marathon

I’ve just come back from a trip to Wales – Reynoldston in Gower, South Wales, to be precise.

It was great, we stayed in Hills Farmhouse a lovely farm cottage with views towards the bays, somewhere beyond the mist and clouds I think, and the in-laws were there, too, all of them.

It was great…

But actually, I’ve learned something on these trips, when it feels like there are too many people under one roof – take your running kit and head for the hills! Continue reading “A little bit of Unthank Road atop a Welsh Brynn and why I didn’t run the Swansea Half Marathon”

How interval running around Chapelfield Gardens helped me run my first marathon in under four hours

Feeling unfit as he neared 40, Jon Welch, pictured above right, took up running. Fast forward five years and Jon, who lives in Norwich, has just run his first marathon and sub four hours, too.

Running less was key to it – as well as some lunchtime interval runs around Chapelfield Gardens. Here he tells me how he did it.

Was this your first marathon? What sort of running had you been doing before that and why did you decide to step up?

Yes, this was my first. I’d done seven half-marathons before this race, plus a couple of 10Ks and handful of Parkruns. A marathon seemed the logical next step, I suppose.

I remember the London Marathon launching when I was a kid. It was a massive event that seemed to capture everyone’s imagination. Even then I thought it would be great to be a part of something like that, and a real achievement to finish. But it was no more than an idle dream, really – not least because I didn’t run and didn’t have much inclination to start. Much later, once I’d run a few halfs – which once would have seemed impossible to me – I started to think a full marathon might be within my grasp. Continue reading “How interval running around Chapelfield Gardens helped me run my first marathon in under four hours”

Weight for it – my real running goal revealed

How do you incorporate weight training into your running programme?

When I signed up to the Wissey Half Marathon I had a secret running goal in mind, to shed some weight.

The training has been going pretty well. I’m managing a steady three-ish runs a week – short, middle, and a Sunday long run – in fact last Sunday’s run included a bit of August’s Run Norwich route – the steep hill at the end up through to Castle Meadow!

And I’m sort of following the TrainAsOne programme which gets emailed to me most mornings at 6am.

But there is one thing that doesn’t seem to be happening, the scales are pointing stubbornly at 13 stone (that’s 182 lbs for US readers, and 83 kg for our friends in Europe – yes they are still friends in my book!)

Has anyone got any suggestions?



Continue reading “Weight for it – my real running goal revealed”

How Andy got back on his bike and set up his new business in Stafford Street

Take a walk past Andy Panks’ shop – AP Cycles and you’re struck by the very cool red and black bike logo – bold striking colours and a bit edgy.

I like your logo, who did it, I asked him as I walked past one day. It must have cost you a fortune?

“My son, he’s nine.”

With an answer like that, I just had to find out more, so here’s the story of how Andy got back on his bike and set up his new business – with no loans, plenty of hard work, and the support of friends, family, former customers, and of course the businesses of Stafford Street.

AP Cycles shop front

Pressed for time?

Here’s how Andy did it in a nutshell.

1.      My son designed my logo

2.      I refurbished my shop using recycled and reclaimed things

3.      People in the street rallied round and my customers came back

4.      I did it without having to take any loans

5.      It’s been a fantastic first year Continue reading “How Andy got back on his bike and set up his new business in Stafford Street”

Who can help me put a running plan together?

It’s week two of my training for Run Norwich and the Wissey half marathon, and I have to say so far I’m feeling pretty good!

This week I’ve managed two runs on Tuesday and Thursday and have the ‘long’ run planned for Sunday.

 But since it’s been a while since I’ve done any proper event running, I’ve decided to seek out a training plan. Yet I think I need a bit of help to find the right one for me. Continue reading “Who can help me put a running plan together?”

Let’s be brief the trouble with running is its pants!

Why can’t you buy running briefs anymore?

A friend of mine posted a very interesting question on Facebook this week. He was going away for three nights and thus wanted to know that all important question – how many pairs of pants should he pack?

There are a couple of answers here which you can select as appropriate:

 1.      3

2.      4

3.      6

4.      8

5.      1  (the Helen Mirren – don’t worry I’ll explain later)

6. 0

Or to explain in more detail

3 – keeps you covered

4 –  gives you a ‘plus one’ option

6 – is a twice a day change, like an evening wear option, so to speak

8 – is the same as four but you double your money, just in case

1 – is the Helen Mirren option (apparently, she never takes luggage when she travels but buys her clothes from charity shops when she gets there – I read that in a newspaper interview once, so it must be correct).

0 – the Pointless answer

But it got me thinking about a burning question of mine – why can’t you buy running briefs anymore?


Continue reading “Let’s be brief the trouble with running is its pants!”

Mr Bremner’s big run for the miners

October 25 1984 was a big news day in Norwich. At Carrow Road a fire was engufling the City Stand which was keeping the reporters and photographers busy.

So busy, in fact, that they almost missed another little piece of history that was about to play out outside City Hall, one that reaches back into Norwich’s political heritage.

You might know Bert Bremner – certainly if, like me, you went to Mile Cross Middle School where he taught for many years, you’d be hard pressed not too.

He’s a teacher you never forget, who alongside Mr (Colin) Foster and Mr (Paul) Davies helped get me into running via the school’s cross country club, and my first ever event a ‘fun run’ round Norfolk Showground. I’d have been about nine or so, so my love of running has been with me throughout my life, and it’s those teachers I have to thank. They also encouraged me to write school football reports, so I see now how they sowed the seeds of my career as a writer too.

Bert’s recently called time on his career as a Norfolk county councillor for the university ward, where he was succeeded at the recent election by Dave Rowntree of Blur fame.

But we’re still in touch on Facebook and when Bert, or ‘Sir’, as I still think of him, posted some pictures showing his younger self kitted out for a run in support of striking miners, I went to see him to find out more.


Mr Bremner.jpeg
Bert Bremner recalls his big run for the miners. Main pic Bert, left, and his running buddy John at Newark


Continue reading “Mr Bremner’s big run for the miners”

End of an era for Umberto as Vegan restaurant gets set to open in St Benedict’s Street

For nearly 25 years he has been a feature of Norwich’s restaurant scene.

But now Umberto Iannello is calling it a day with plans to put his feet up and to travel – including a trip to see his daughter in San Francisco, and spending more time in Southern Italy where he was born.

The 78-year-old has been at the helm of Umberto’s in St Benedict’s Street since October 1992, serving his own blend of fine Italian and rustic dishes.

But on March 15 the restaurant closed its doors for the last time following a sale of the leasehold to new buyers.

Umberto's front


Continue reading “End of an era for Umberto as Vegan restaurant gets set to open in St Benedict’s Street”

I’ve just signed up to Run Norwich 2017

After much ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ – I’ve decided to bite the bullet and sign up to Run Norwich for the third time.

After taking part in the first two I’d been giving serious thought about whether to make it third time lucky.

But here’s the thing, my running this year has lacked the focus of having an event to train for.

It was time to get back in the game, give myself a reason to get out in the morning, afternoon, or evening.

It was time to start again. Continue reading “I’ve just signed up to Run Norwich 2017”

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