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EPIC Aylsham 5K start 2024

The Alternate EPIC 5K

Just nine of 463 runners completed the correct EPIC Aylsham 5K course...

The police were involved as local youths spoiled a local community 5K race in Norfolk by moving cones and directional arrows in a pre-meditated plan to send the runners off course.

Exercising People in Norfolk (EPIC) is a social enterprise that promotes and delivers the benefits of physical activity for people of all ages and abilities. The Director, Steven Hitcham, provides activity sessions for people living with complex disabilities and in care homes and schools, improving health outcomes and independence.

EPIC Norfolk promotes several running events, raising funds for local sports and physical activity provisions to benefit the community. In 2020, over £5,000 was raised through #RunWithPride, EPIC Aylsham 5K, EPIC North Walsham 5K, and the Blickling Half Marathon.

On Friday evening (7 June 2024) at 7:00pm the popular EPIC Aylsham 5K set off from the Market Place with 463 participants. Only nine ran the correct distance as local youths had deliberately moved the direction signs and cones to send the lead bike and runners off course just after the 2K marker.

Reports indicate the diversion took the runners through a group of 15-20 teenagers into an area with no cover from marshalls or traffic management. Quick action by the lead cyclist and local runners got the race back on course near the 3K point but at least 250m extra was run by all bar the final nine finishers.

In a statement to local media, Steven Hitcham said: "A lot of cars had to stop to let runners through, which we obviously hadn't anticipated or had any sort of management in place for. Luckily, in the end, there wasn't too much traffic about. But it's more the fact that it could have led to something serious."

Unbeknown to the vandals, a community police officer was among the competitors, and the incident was subsequently reported to the police. In a statement on Facebook, EPIC Norfolk added: "We’re really sorry for this incident and hope that everyone understands that it was out of our control. We have reported it to the Police. This evening’s route will now be known as the Alternate EPIC 5K."

For the record, the top three men were M40 Michael Eccles (Bure Valley Harriers, 16:36), Jamie Atkins (unattached, 16:52) and Martyn Bath (Norwich RR, 17:12). The leading ladies were Grace Buchanan (North Norfolk Beach Runners, 18:36), Leanne Finch (Bure Valley Harriers, 18:38) and Amy Clarke (Cambridge & Coleridge AC, 18:48). The incident added at least a minute to the best times – the overall winner ran 15:27.2 for 5000m last year.

Full results can be found at the runABC South race listing here.

Photo of start courtesy EPIC Norfolk

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