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Story added: 10th April 2019

Chris Goreham recounts his experiences on our Coastal Walk Challenge event

Last year, BBC Norfolk’s Chris Goreham went on our epic 47-mile Coastal Walk Challenge. With the clock ticking down to this year’s event, he recounts the high and lows from his experience.

“I have just about forgiven the good people at the Community Sports Foundation for subjecting me to the most gruelling physical challenge of my life last summer.

In truth signing up for the annual Coastal Walk Challenge was something I had been meaning to do for several years. Running the London Marathon would appeal to me if it was just a case of turning up on the start line at Blackheath on the day itself. Any enthusiasm for running 26 miles through the capital soon leaves me when the reality of having to do all those training runs on muddy Norfolk streets during the winter months sets in.

The Coastal Walk Challenge is 47 miles from Hunstanton to Cromer but it’s a walk not a run, takes in some of the finest scenery our county has to offer and happens in June when daylight stretches out well into the evening.

I was seduced by the first two words in the event’s title: a ‘Coastal Walk’ felt like a pleasant way to satisfy the bit of me that had always wanted to do something meaningful to raise money for charity. However, the third word, ‘Challenge’, is there for a reason too.

All the way through the first few hours those who had gone course and distance before were sounding out warnings about Cley beach being the real test. You haven’t taken on a proper Norfolk walk until you’ve crunched along several miles of stones and pebbles at around 4am having been up all night. They even save Beeston Bump until near to the end just to make sure the bacon sandwich that awaits on the finish line at Cromer Pier tastes as good as any food ever has.

Naively I agreed to record some of my adventure for BBC Radio Norfolk. Modern technology meant there was just enough of a decent phone signal to send back regular updates to my colleagues who were taking it easy back in the office (or at least they were in my mind) to run on the radio.

I am not ashamed to say that crossing the finish line, with my mum, my wife and my then two-month-old son all waiting to greet me, is the only time I have ever tried to broadcast while being in tears. That’s remarkable when you consider what Norwich City have put us through over the years!

I am so glad I did it. A day hasn’t gone by since without me thinking about some of the people, the views and the regular meal stops that were essential along the way. It’s a remarkable feat of organisation with many volunteers also staying up for the duration to make sure that no-one gets lost, goes hungry or loses their sense of humour.

For me it summed up why we are lucky to have the Community Sports Foundation in Norfolk. A sense of achievement, belonging and camaraderie is at the very centre of everything they do, whether you are fundraising, coaching or taking part in one of the many sessions that they make possible across the county. If they taught me anything during that 20 hours on foot last summer it was that The Proclaimers would not have been so keen on the idea of walking 500 miles if they knew that their route meant going across Cley beach.

This year’s challenge is sold out.  To find out more about the event, and to register interest for the 2020 event, please click here.

"I am not ashamed to say that crossing the finish line, with my mum, my wife and my then two-month-old son all waiting to greet me, is the only time I have ever tried to broadcast while being in tears. That’s remarkable when you consider what Norwich City have put us through over the years!"

Chris Goreham

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