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Former West Norfolk man publishes book inspired by two of Britain's best-known athletes

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A former West Norfolk man who cheated death four years ago has published a book inspired by the rivalry between Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett.

Peter Duhig, who stopped breathing for 15 minutes after completing a 10k race in Spain where his wife Cath and he emigrated in 2017, has written Tullylease: When Irish eyes are miling.

The book focuses on the story of a race, and a life, that wasn’t thought possible. A young man has the calling of the Catholic Church, but on his way to being a priest, a passion for athletics takes a hold of him.

Pete and Cath Duhig. (44353881)
Pete and Cath Duhig. (44353881)

Mr Duhig said: “The inspiration came from a few paragraphs in Pat Butcher’s book called The Perfect Mile. An account of the Coe and Ovett rivalry.

“It mentioned an event that happened in Ireland that no one knew much about where Ovett ran a race with Eamon Cochran, and John Walker.

“This caught my imagination, and in trying to find out more about it, and why no one knew anything about it, I discovered the man who made it happen. An Irish Catholic priest.

“I approached him by email and got an instant invite to visit him in County Cork, Ireland.

“Fascinated that he was willing to talk about it, Cath and I went out to Cork for a long weekend to find him.

“The man lived an impossibly busy and full life, with coaching, friendships, his calling to the church and other personal interests.

“We had an unbelievably frantic weekend with only a couple of hours sleep, he was so hyperactive and had so many fingers in so many pies.

“We were shown the site of the event I have written about and many other adventures in the two days we were there.

“I was totally inspired by him and knew I had to write the story.

“Unfortunately I couldn’t write it as a true story, too many characters still alive, and it needed a bit of imagination added to it.”

Mr Duhig added: “It stuck in my head for about eight years. It festered away in my head until the pandemic of 2020 came along, and with nothing to distract me I started to get it down on paper.

“Once I got past the reality and started my version it flowed fairly easily.”

Mr Duhig - a keen sportsman - is a familiar face in West Norfolk circles, having started The Wissey Valley Running Club in the Stoke Ferry Area. This was followed with organising the Wissey Valley Half Marathon,

As well as competing, he helped to form Ryston Runners Athletics Club back in 1986 with Bob Hancock and Ian Vaughan-Arbuckle.

After two stints as Ryston chairman, he ended up as chairman of the Eastern Masters AC for another 15 years, as well being an officer of the British Masters Athletic Federation, which he still does to this day.

With Cath’s help, he also started his successful business of Winning Ways, a medal and trophy supplier, until his retirement. Cath is a former teacher at the King’s Lynn Academy.

He hopes his paperback, which has already received some excellent reviews, will be well received by book lovers of all sorts.

“Father Liam, in Ireland loves it, and says he wishes he had written it himself,” he said.

“I hope people recognise the stars despite the names being changed for obvious reasons.

“It is a feel good story that I think anyone can appreciate, they don’t need to be an athlete or sportsperson. If you like a good story I feel you will enjoy this.”

The book, containing 256 pages, is available to buy at: www.amazon.co.uk priced at £5.94.

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