Racing veteran recalls first Norfolk Marathon 40 years on

Trevor Middleton wrote a memoir-like account of the first Norfolk Marathon, which he ran in 40 years ago

Trevor Middleton wrote a memoir-like account of the first Norfolk Marathon, which he ran in 40 years ago - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Forty years ago a father-of-two picked up the Evening News to find an article about a brand new marathon coming to Norwich. 

And from that moment, Trevor Middleton of Heath Close in Hellesdon, was hooked. 

The then 45-year-old began training for the inaugural Norfolk Marathon which was held on May 3, 1982, a cool and overcast day.

The aim of the 26.2 mile stint was to raise funds for Kelling Hospital.

An article in the Eastern Daily Press from May 4, 1982 which highlights the success of the first Norfolk Marathon

An article in the Eastern Daily Press from May 4, 1982 which highlights the success of the first Norfolk Marathon, alongside other cuttings from the Evening News - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Trevor, originally from Stoke Holy Cross, penned his experience in One Man's Marathon, a short autobiographical account detailing the six months prior to the race, as well as the feat itself.

Although Trevor wrote his marathon memoir a few years after the inaugural event - in the mid-80s - he still remembers it fondly 40 years on.

Trevor Middleton donning the hat he wore during the first Norfolk Marathon on May 3, 1982

Trevor Middleton donning the hat he wore during the first Norfolk Marathon on May 3, 1982 - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

"I remember the agony," he joked.

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"As much as there's something prestigious about running the London Marathon, there was something about running one on home soil.

Photos of Trevor at the first Norfolk Marathon, which he ran on May 3, 1982

Photos of Trevor at the first Norfolk Marathon alongside his sun hat - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

"There was an element of pride about running in the first one."

Trevor's wife of 61 years Daphne waved him on from the 23-mile post, just around the corner from their home: "We all gathered at the Firs - now Tesco - to wave them on as they ran past."

The map for the Norfolk Marathon in 1982, which took runners from Kelling Hospital - just outside Holt - to Norwich Cathedral

The map for the inaugural Norfolk Marathon in 1982, which took runners from Kelling Hospital - just outside Holt - to Norwich Cathedral - Credit: Supplied by Trevor Middleton

He added: "They never issued medals but they gave us a card to say that we'd finished.

"I was exhausted for several days."

In his memoir, Trevor gave a detailed account of his mental and physical hurdles, and told of his final few miles running alongside a stranger, having lost his running partner Colin.

Trevor Middleton, now 85, detailed his marathon experience in his memoir, called One Man's Marathon

Trevor Middleton, now 85, detailed his marathon experience in his memoir, called One Man's Marathon - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

His memoir reads: "By now, we were very close to Norwich Cathedral - the finish.

"As we turned in - by now running without pain it seemed - the waiting crowds began to applaud.

"'Give me your hand,' I shouted, and we ran down the cobbled road to the finish."

Trevor Middleton held the hand of a fellow runner as they crossed the line of the first Norfolk Marathon in 1982

Trevor Middleton held the hand of a fellow runner as they crossed the line of the first Norfolk Marathon in 1982 - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Trevor completed the race in four hours and 39 minutes, coming home 752 out of 908 finishers and raised £88.50 - over £250 in today's money.

He then ran the 1984 Norfolk Marathon before tackling the famed London event in 1986.

What are your memories of the Norfolk Marathon? Email maya.derrick@archant.co.uk.

Trevor Middleton's sponsorship form from the first Norfolk Marathon in 1982

Trevor Middleton's sponsorship form from the first Norfolk Marathon in 1982 - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

The history of the marathon

The Norfolk marathon, passing through North Norfolk in 1984. Picture: Archant Library

The Norfolk marathon, passing through North Norfolk in 1984 - Credit: Archant Library

The marathon is named after the legendary run made by Greek soldier and messenger Philippides from the battle of Marathon to Athens in 490BC, where he announced the defeat of the invading Persians.

The men's race was present at the first modern Olympics Games in Athens in 1896, with the women's event not added until the Los Angeles 1984 games.

It remains the Olympics' only road running race.

The length of an Olympic marathon was not precisely fixed at first. 

The first few Olympic marathons were about 25 miles in length, which is roughly the distance from Marathon to Athens by the longer, flatter route.

The exact length depended on the route established for each venue.

London 1908 was when the now-standard distance of 26 miles and 385 yards was used, but it was not until Paris 1924 that this distance became the Olympic standard.

Annually, more than 800 marathons are organised worldwide.