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Neil Featherby: Making the best of your ability is what running is all about...just ask Peter Duhig

PUBLISHED: 10:30 06 October 2017

Peter Duhig on the 1948 West Norfolk Olympic Torch Trail in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Peter Duhig on the 1948 West Norfolk Olympic Torch Trail in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

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Two weeks ago, I wrote about the shocking news of two friends and local runners who both collapsed during races on the same day – Peter Duhig whose heart stopped for apparently five minutes and Andy Kett who had a stroke.

Neil Featherby running with Peter Duhig. Picture: Neil FeatherbyNeil Featherby running with Peter Duhig. Picture: Neil Featherby

Not surprisingly, this has led to a number of people outside of the running community once again questioning the real benefits of this form of exercise and at what point does it go beyond that of being healthy. More on that in a future column.

More to the point, Andy is making good progress, as is Pete. Talking of Pete, who is the elder statesman amongst the two, his career really is evidence to the fact that if you are prepared to work hard then just about anything is achievable.

Certainly achievable in as much as demonstrating how we are all just that bit more capable than sometimes we think we are.

MORE: Don’t be afraid to join a running club

After having been a better than average footballer during his 20s and having watched the first London Marathon aged 31, he decided to give running a go. He took part in the first King’s Lynn Half Marathon just a few months later, recording a finishing time of 84 minutes.

Neil Featherby running with Peter Duhig. Picture: Neil FeatherbyNeil Featherby running with Peter Duhig. Picture: Neil Featherby

With that, he was hooked and his long journey as a runner was now well under way. He spent the next few years taking part in marathons and other road races around the country as what I think is fair to say, as an average club runner.

Having met several top athletes at various events and never being scared to pick their brains, Pete decided to really give this running lark a go and in no time at all his training mileages had shot up, whilst track sessions had taken a whole new meaning.

As opposed to being half way down the field, he now found himself at the front in races. This culminated with a 2:26 clocking in the London Marathon and whilst that in itself was a great performance, he also went on to take a minute off that marathon time, run a shade over 30 minutes for 10k and a sub 50 minutes 10 miles (49:42).

MORE: Running brings out the best in people

Probably even more remarkable is that whilst in his 40s he decided to turn his attentions to the track where he ran a two-minute flat 800 metres whilst also running very fast times at all track distances from 400 to 10,000 metres including the 400 metres hurdles and steeplechase.

Amongst his many other achievements are a bronze and silver medal at the European and World Masters Championships, as well as being the first British male veteran athlete to break nine minutes (8:40) for the 3,000 metres indoors.

Despite not quite gaining a coveted England vest, he has worn with pride the vests of Norfolk, the Eastern Counties and the South of England.

In a nutshell, he has never been scared to have a go at anything and whilst having a go is one thing, being the very best you can be at what you do have a go at is most definitely Peter Duhig’s motto!

Pete is currently recovering well and will no doubt soon be taking those first few steps as a runner again whilst Andy has his running shoes sitting very close to his bed.

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