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Runway run looks set for take-off

PUBLISHED: 17:39 28 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:14 12 July 2010

The contestants set off at the start/finish line of the Runway Run at Tibenham Airfield, in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

The contestants set off at the start/finish line of the Runway Run at Tibenham Airfield, in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Hundreds of pairs of trainers took off down a former second world war runway at the weekend for the start of the region's newest fun run.

A life-saving charity and a Norfolk flying club joined forces on Saturday for the inaugural runway run for the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA).

Hundreds of pairs of trainers took off down a former second world war runway at the weekend for the start of the region's newest fun run.

A life-saving charity and a Norfolk flying club joined forces on Saturday for the inaugural runway run for the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA).

Organisers spoke of their delight at the attendance for their first 5km race at Tibenham Airfield, after 150 competitors of all ages and abilities took to the start line in the evening sunshine.

The fun run followed a short memorial service at the former second world war US Air Force base to mark the 65th anniversary of the 445th Bombardment Group's Kassel Mission in which 39 B-24 aircraft left the Norfolk airfield on September 27, 1944 and only four returned.

Thirty-one balloons were released into the skies on Saturday to mark the biggest loss for a bomb group in a single battle.

Officials from the air ambulance and Norfolk Gliding Club, which operates the airfield, said they hoped the runway run at Tibenham will take off and grow in future years.

Hannah Clay, area fundraising manager for EAAA, said: “We are really pleased with 150 and we are really excited about doing it again and making it an annual event. Race for Life started off with a few hundred and has got up to 1,500. The opportunity to expand is limitless.”

Competitors between the ages of six and 86 years took to the start line to raise funds for the air ambulance, including charity trustee Lord Iveagh from the Elveden Estate and heir to the Guinness throne, who dressed up as a giant toucan to mark the 250th anniversary of the famous drink.

“It is such a great charity and we need to keep the blades turning and saving lives. It is a terribly important way of reaching emergencies and accidents, especially in rural areas. It is lovely to see all ages here and 5km does not bar anyone. It is a tremendous first year,” he said.

Tony Griffiths, vice-chairman of the Norfolk Gliding Club, added that he hoped the event would become an annual occurrence near to the anniversary of the Kassel Mission.

“We have the potential for three or four times more people and who knows in a couple of years time that will happen,” he said.

The inaugural EAAA runway run was won by 21-year-old Jess Sparke from Essex, with her twin sister, Kat, coming third. Norwich runner Daniel Middleton was second.


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