Norfolk running legend ready to embark on Cross Norfolk Challenge

Neil Featherby husky dogs

Neil Featherby is embarking on a Cross Norfolk Challenge to raise money for charity after his beloved dog, Loki, fell ill recently. - Credit: Lee Blanchflower

A Norfolk runner has been ‘blown away’ by the response of people after launching his Cross Norfolk Challenge. 

More than £1,100 has already been raised for charity since Neil Featherby announced his ‘Anything for Loki’ challenge, which will see him run the 97.6-mile trail that starts at the Nar Valley Way in King’s Lynn and ends on the North Sea coast along Wherryman’s Way in Great Yarmouth. 

Neil launched the challenge, which will also follow the Wensum Way, Marriott’s Way and the Wensum River Walk through Norwich, after one of his beloved huskies, Loki, fell ill recently and was told he hasn’t got long to live. 

Neil Featherby Loki

Neil Featherby's dog, Loki, will run parts of the Cross Norfolk Challenge if he's well enough after falling ill. - Credit: Mark Hewlett

Neil wants Loki to be part of the run as he bids to raise money for four charities that are close to his heart - Nelson’s Journey, Hallswood Animal Sanctuary, Pawpers in the Ruff and the Northern Inuit Dog Rescue Society. 

“It means so much because I know there’s all manner of people doing things for great causes,” said Neil, who writes a weekly running column in the Eastern Daily Press and is the owner of Sportlink in Taverham. “We all know that times are tough for so many at the moment, but it just shows how much people care. 

“I want to do this challenge for all the charities in Loki’s name. I would really love to get this challenge underway whilst I have still got him too. 

“It would be great to look back and see that he helped raise money for these great causes.” 

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Neil has raised thousands for charity in the past through his running exploits. In 2019 he ran the Norfolk Coastal path in his Anything for Oslo Challenge in memory of another of his dogs. 

Karen Grapes joined him for the duration of the challenge and plans to do the same again as well as friend Chas Allen. 

But Neil wants as many people as possible to join in with the run, which will be split into sections over several different days due to the fact he doesn’t want to be away from Loki for too long. 

“I’d love for other people to get involved as well,” said Neil, who has an everyday running streak stretching back more than 40 years. “Everyone is more than welcome - they can come run a mile or 10 miles — it all counts. I know so many people who have gone through similar things and I’d encourage them to join me and a few others in this challenge. If they want to contribute a pound or whatever then anything really is hugely appreciated. 

“I know that I could do the challenge in a day - I’m not in my best shape but I know I could walk a lot of it. But I just don’t want to be more than an hour away from Loki at the moment in case the worst happens. 

“I’m hoping Loki is well enough to do parts of the run with me but I will obviously have to see how he is.” 

Neil, who is so grateful to the vets for their quick action in saving Loki and giving him more time through extensive surgery, is planning to start the challenge as soon as possible and will announce when and where on the Run Anglia Facebook group as well as Sportlink's Facebook page.

Simon Wright, chief executive of Nelson's Journey, said: "We're absolutely thrilled that Nelson's Journey will be supported through this fantastic challenge. As a community based charity, we rely very much on the fundraising efforts of people like Neil to keep on providing our services to Norfolk's bereaved children.

"Some of us at the charity are runners too, and we look on in awe at Neil's running exploits and the adventures he has with his huskies. Loki will be very much in everyone's thoughts as the challenge takes place, and we're ever so grateful that our work is also being supported. Thank you to Neil and his team of supporters."

If you would like to contribute to the cause then click here