Whilst my column this week was going to be dedicated to Mark Armstrong and his forthcoming marathon this Sunday at Nottingham, I feel I have to write about two of Norfolk’s most respected and popular athletes who both collapsed during races last weekend, which shocked the local running community.
Firstly, Peter Duhig who is an absolutely amazing man. He has not only been one of the county’s best athletes during the last four decades whilst holding club records for his club Ryston Runners at distances from 800 metres to the marathon, but he is also one of the club founders.
Pete has always been a tough no-nonsense grafter, be it in sport or business, and has never been scared to have a go at anything. However, and during his life as “a runner” he has won many races and medals which includes international competition. Away from the track and the road, he has also been involved with race organisation with perhaps his best claim being one of the original organisers of the very first Round Norfolk Relay.
Pete is currently in hospital waiting for heart surgery, but with his tremendous resilience and many years of running fitness behind him, I am sure he will soon be up and about and needless to say putting on a pair of running shoes again.
If the news about Pete wasn’t bad enough, earlier this week information started to circulate on social media about Andy Kett of North Norfolk Beach Runners who had become ill whilst taking part in a 50 mile race. After being attended to by medics he was immediately rushed off to hospital where it was established he had suffered a stroke.
Andy, just like Pete has been a really dedicated athlete for several years, boasting some fantastic race times from 800 metres to 100k.
Just five months ago he won the Bungay Marathon and having won this race myself in the past, I can certainly confirm that it is one of the more difficult marathons to run.
Andy is one of those fantastic people who everyone always has a good word for hence the amount of money which has been donated to a fund which has been set up by his club.
This money will help Andy’s wife and young family during the next few months as he battles his way back to health again with him having given up his job as a paramedic two years ago after setting up his own sports therapy business.
Ironically, I will always owe Andy a big thank you after he was the first on the scene after my mother had a small stroke a few years ago. If anyone would like to make a donation visit www.gofundme.com/6ge56-andys-fund
The events of the last week once again most certainly reinforces just how fragile things can be for which I will always appreciate everything around me and every single mile I continue to run.
Finally, I send my very best wishes to Mark for his big day and whilst I know he has a really fast marathon in him in the near future, providing he runs sensibly this weekend, I still expect him to get round in a half decent time for which he can then build upon going forward.