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New race competitors yell: 'We are Sparta!'

How do you fancy wading through chest-deep muddy water, running up hills carrying sandbags, climbing ropes and hurdling fire pits?

Certainly not your average Sunday afternoon stroll but, as Andy Dickenson found out, there's very little that's average about the Spartan Races held in Sussex this weekend. He spoke to race director Dan Tuffnell and head coach Richard Pringle.

National

Paul Gascoigne determined to beat alcohol addiction

Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne said he can overcome the demons which saw him admitted to hospital in a drink-fuelled stupor.

Paul Gascoigne
Paul Gascoigne. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive

The 46-year-old, whose legacy on the pitch has been overshadowed by alcohol and drug attractions, was treated in a Dorset hospital when he suffered a relapse last week after spending the previous seven months clean.

He told the Sunday Mirror: "I know I can overcome this. I am an alcoholic so I am taking one day at a time, but I will get there."

The former Tottenham Hotspur player said he turned to drink after being served with an eviction notice on his flat in Sandbanks, Poole, and described his latest relapse as a "blip".

He told the newspaper: "Up until a few weeks ago, I was doing great. I have an illness and I had a bad moment. Now I want to make sure it doesn't happen again."

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Mixture of results for Meridian's football teams

There were several draws today as teams from the south kicked off their football season.

Saints beat West Ham 3-1, winning their first Premier League game under their new manager Ronald Koeman.

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Brighton and Hove Albion's Lewis Dunk (second left) is congratulated by his team mates after his goal Credit: EMPICS Sport

Brighton were not so lucky, as they finished with a 2-2 draw against Charlton.

Reading won 1-0 when they played at Middlesborough and Swindon drew 1-1 with Coventry at home.

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Swindon Town's Raphael Rossi-Branco celebrates his goal Credit: EMPICS Sport

Bournemouth took on Norwich and drew 1-1 while Crawley lost 2-1 to MK Dons.

AFC Bournemouth
AFC Bournemouth's Eddie Howe salutes fans after their 1-1 draw Credit: EMPICS Sport

Saints off to flying start with 3-1 win against West Ham

Morgan Schneiderlin scored twice to ensure Southampton won their first Barclays Premier League game with new manager Ronald Koeman.

Saints beat West Ham 3-1 at Upton Park and they started brightly as Pelle and Shane Long, a £12million signing from Hull, stretched the Hammers' defence.

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Morgan Schneiderlin scored twice to secure the win Credit: PA Wire

Graziano Pelle, signed for £8million from Koeman's old club Feyenoord, wrapped things up with seven minutes left.

That sparked a rush to the exits for the home fans, following a second home defeat in the space of a week for manager Sam Allardyce whose team were knocked out of the Capital One Cup on penalties by Sky Bet League One side Sheffield United.

Francis Benali one week into his 'Big Run'

Now former Southampton defender Francis Benali is one week into his 'Big Run' which sees him running to every Premier League ground in the country.

The challenge, which aims to raise more than one million pounds for Cancer Research means he has to complete around 50 miles every day for three weeks.

Yesterday he arrived at Burnley from where he spoke to us about what had been a difficult day.

For more information on the run and how to donate click here

A busy night of football for the South's teams in round 2 of the Capital One Cup

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Southampton's Graziano Pelle celebrates their second goal Credit: PA

Mixed fortunes for the South's football teams in the Capital One Cup second round. Here are the final scores:

Bournemouth 3 Northampton 0

Millwall 0 Southampton 2

Norwich 3 Crawley 1

Swindon 2 Brighton 4

Scunthorpe 0 Reading 1

West Brom 1 Oxford1 (West Brom wins 7-6 on penalties)

Gillingham 0 Newcastle 1

Bournemouth, Southampton, Brighton and Reading celebrate being through to the next round

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Tyne Tees

Benali completes first leg of charity run

Former Southampton footballer Francis Benali has completed the first leg of his 1,000-mile journey to every Premier League ground.

The 45-year-old began 'Benali's Big Run' at St James' Park in Newcastle, before making his way to the Stadium of Light in Sunderland. He arrived on Wearside at around 10:45am.

Benali is now expected to arrive at the KC Stadium in Hull on Tuesday.

Tyne Tees

Shearer offers his support to Benali's Big Run

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer has backed Francis Benali to complete his 1,000-mile run to every Premier League ground.

Shearer was at St James' Park in Newcastle this morning to support his former Southampton teammate.

Benali is hoping to raise around £1 million for cancer research from his three-week challenge.

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