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Wensum Column: Fakenham writer Jim Harding discusses high river, British Heart Foundation and death of marathon runner Kelvin Kiptum





In his weekly column, Fakenham writer Jim Harding discusses a high river, a good cause, and the untimely death of a marathon runner...

Has the Wensum ever been as high as it is now in the middle of February? Not in my experience, anyway.

On my latest walk, despite all the improvement work carried out last year, I had to paddle through water collected on the path and find alternative stretches to keep my feet more or less dry.

Has the Wensum ever been this high in February?
Has the Wensum ever been this high in February?

I could have turned back, of course, but as a friend of mine will be driving up from Essex to join me on a hike out to Sculthorpe Mill, I thought a preliminary meander would be a good idea.

This early stretch from the three brick arches bridge along to the town bridge may now be abandoned by us. Have no fear, we will make it to the pub somehow – probably along the old railway line just beyond Goggs Mill, which formerly linked Fakenham with Lynn during the steam train era.

We two have a history of clambering across rough countryside, having tackled a long-distance path together which traverses much of central Tasmania, so I’m sure, despite our more venerable years, we’ll manage this gentle, if squelchy, Norfolk tramp.

My wife, having more sense, will drive out to join us for lunch.

Jane Heppell was mainly responsible for setting up the Fakenham Film Society, which has developed a close association with the town’s cinema – where selected films are shown monthly.

She has always been a good supporter of the British Heart Foundation and tells me that February is its ‘Go Red For Heart’ month.

It was this link which prompted the foundation of the society in 2011 when a very successful charity night in support of it was held at the cinema.

In acknowledgement, there will be a showing of Mamma Mia on Wednesday, February 21 at 7.30pm, 50 years since ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest.

You are invited along and encouraged to dress in something red and perhaps sparkly, with a prize given for the best outfit. Entrance tickets cost £10 and will include a raffle ticket.

They may be bought in advance from the BHF shop on Miller’s Walk in Fakenham, or on the evening itself. Your support for this invaluable charity will be much appreciated and, you never know, might lead you to joining the society as well.

To conclude, a very sad story about the early death of a Kenyan marathon runner whose name may be unfamiliar to you.

Kelvin Kiptum resonated with me because he had taken part in the London Marathon last year, winning it with the third-best time in its history.

My association with this wonderful event as a sportsperson – but not specifically a distance runner – who managed to complete the course in under four hours during my 50th year was marginal, but Kiptum was an outstanding athlete whose dream it was to complete the 26 miles-plus in under two hours.

His time in the Chicago marathon was two hours and 35 seconds, and he was training hard to join his fellow Kenyans at the Olympics this summer in Paris.

I know that a few of my colleagues at the former Fakenham High school have taken part in this marathon, and many other runners across our region have done likewise.

Most of us were raising funds for one good cause or another. Just to get round is brilliant and for a few days after there’s a tendency to be ‘walking on air’.

I know it is an achievement I will never forget or regret, and every year when the event is televised I am transported back to those London streets and familiar landmarks.

This very association is doubtless why I felt so upset that Kiptum, just 24 and killed in a car crash, will be denied his place in athletics history. His name is more likely to be forgotten than remembered outside his own country.



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