GEAR brings the West Norfolk community together

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Gavin Caney reflects on another successful GEAR in his latest Your Local Paper column.The conditions were better suited for spectating than competing.But as the sun poured down on King’s Lynn, you couldn’t help but smile at how the town and surrounding area continue to support the annual Grand East Anglia Run (GEAR).The 10k race brings out the best of the local running scene – the most supportive, friendly and inspiring sporting community I’ve ever been part of.And that ethos and feelgood factor seems to rub off on those who spectate to cheer the runners round. Whether it’s a club runner chasing a top-10 position, a keen jogger targeting their own personal best or a newcomer to pounding the pavements just dreaming of making the finish, the event really does cater for all.Thousands of people lined the streets in perhaps one of the best-supported events yet, no doubt aided by some much-needed warmer spring weather; well for those watching at least. After lining up last year and enjoying the race of my life, I decided to give something back this time around and cheer on friends and the many runners I’ve trained and competed against.Having been roared on to a PB of 33 minutes and 51 seconds in 2023, it felt right to move around to four different positions on the course to scream myself hoarse and encourage others this year. As every runner passed, and I could hear shouts and cheers beside me, it reminded me of what’s so great about this sport. Everyone is doing it for a different reason and trying to do the best they can – or helping others to achieve the same.I was naturally gripped by the battle at the top and was keen to get right behind people like my one-time training partner Mitchell Bunn and friend Callum Stanforth, and what felt like hundreds of others. I also got a chance to see how GEAR is more than just a race for serious athletes. I watched as people of all ages and fitness levels ran together for charities, usually for heartfelt reasons.I marvelled at the smiles, the brightly coloured matching T-shirts and the families and friends who turned up to do their bit on the sidelines to help them. People give up their time to take photographs that participants can treasure, others racing around on their bikes to provide encouragement and a sea of people lining King Street to roar people home.The happiness in a packed Globe beer garden afterwards said it all. People were proud, and so they should be, of their efforts and our home race. I can’t wait to line up in 2025 – well, hopefully.n Is there anything more quintessentially English than watching a game of cricket?Well yes, if you’re enjoying the sweet sound of leather on willow with a stunning church in the backdrop.So if you fancy a real treat as summer approaches, get yourself over to Snettisham.While a visit to the Rose & Crown pub is not essential, but recommended, it really is a beautifully calming venue to watch one of our national sports.I popped by on Sunday with my partner and thoroughly enjoyed drinking in some live action without even realising who the home side were playing against.We caught the back end of what turned out to be Downham and Stow’s run chase and revelled in Owen Stacey’s superb 108 not out, which included us witnessing two of his four sixes.The pleasant backdrop, warm temperatures and polite appreciation of the players’ efforts were the perfect way to end the weekend before a walk on the beach really topped a busy but brilliant day off.n Birmingham City are preparing for life in the third tier of English football.A club that in 2011 were in the Premier League and have been in the Championship for 13 years. A side that in October, sat in sixth position and are now facing up to at least one campaign in League One.They won’t be the first, nor will they be the last side, to fall down the pyramid. Many, like Southampton and Norwich, have found their way back up fairly swiftly.For others, including Premier League-bound Ipswich Town, it can take time. Others, like Swindon and Bradford, disappeared and are yet to return.But Birmingham’s downfall feels like it was of their own making after their truly ludicrous decision to sack John Eustace – a man who kept Blackburn Rovers up on the final day no less.The Brummies’ desire for a high-profile name at the helm led them to appoint Wayne Rooney. His reign was nothing short of a disaster and the club’s American owners, as well as those in senior positions, got it oh so badly wrong.Few could have predicted the resurgence of clubs like Sheffield Wednesday who looked down and out.Or so many sides in trouble winning on the final day.But Birmingham have reaped what they have sown. It certainly won’t be easy to bounce back.

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