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THE road for runners leads to Bungay on Sunday as the annual Black Dog Marathon prepares for its 30th running.

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And the signs the field will be as big as ever, with more than 200 entering for the full distance and the limit of 600 reached for the half-marathon. Add to that late entries on the day and those taking part in the two-mile fun run, and close to 1,000 could be putting those muscles to the test.

It is all evidence that the event, organised by the Bungay Black Dog Running Club’s race committee, is as popular as ever, and hundreds of spectators are expected to line the route from Maltings Meadow at Ditchingham and via Bungay town centre, Mettingham, Shipmeadow, Barsham, Beccles, Gillingham Geldeston, Ellingham, Broome and back to Bungay.

Runners will come from all over the country and abroad for one of the first marathons of the season, to enjoy a race held under the British Association of Road Races rules and generally accepted as one of the best organised of its kind in the country.

Some will use the event as a final warm up for the London Marathon, which takes place the following Sunday.

More than 100 volunteers from the club and Bungay NSPCC committee – for the fourth year the children’s charity will be the recipient of proceeds – will do duties at the start and along the route, and manning water stations set up at regular intervals.

If the weather is good the records could be under threat from the leading runners. Last year Lowestoft’s Carl Prewer set the record for the current course with an impressive two hours 42 minutes 56 seconds.

Those at the event will including Olympic athlete Paul Evans.

There will be traffic diversions at key points during the race, and parking will be signed. There is no parking at the Maltings Meadow this year, with runner and spectator parking at Ditchingham Dip, next to All Hallows Hospital, or in town – both within easy walking distance of the start.

Runners will include Ugandan Colin Mukasa Basalirwa, who is predicting a finish in 2:24.15 – well inside the marathon’s previous bests. A further 10 entrants are predicting a run under three hours.

For two Ipswich runners the marathon will see them complete their seventh distance in seven days as they aim to raise £2,000 for the East Anglia Children’s Hospices.

Paddy O’Flynn and Chris Spurling are doing an informal marathon distance each day this week and making the final one the official Bungay event.

For more information visit bungayblackdogrunningclub.co.uk

Black Dog Marathon – schedule: 8.30am: Registration opens, parking at Ditchingham Dip opens; 10.00am Registration for marathon closes; 10.15am Marathon baggage to baggage store last call; 10.20am Marathon runners assemble at start; 10.25am Pre-race announcements; 10.30am Start of marathon by Mayor of Bungay Terry Reeve; 11.00am Fun Run; 12.00pm Registration for Half Marathon closes; 12.10pm Half Marathon warm up; 12.15pm Half Marathon baggage to baggage store last call, Start of Wheelchair Half Marathon; 12.20pm Half Marathon runners assemble at start; 12.25pm Pre-race announcements; 12.30pm Start of Half Marathon by the Mayor; 1.00pm Winner of Marathon due; 1.45pm Winner of Half Marathon due; 3.00pm Presentation of Prizes by the Town Reeve, John Warnes, and chairman of NSPCC branch committee Patrick Bradley.

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