I said last year’s Felthorpe Boxing Day Cross Country Run was to be the last... 

Well, let’s just say I have had a change of mind. 

For those who do not know about the event, in a nutshell, it is a crazy and even hilarious fun run (non-competitive) which first took place in 2002 with just me and three others. The following year the number of participants had grown to 30-plus and within 10 years nearly 150. 

However, since covid, numbers have fallen back down to around 40 or 50. 

Why is this, you may ask? 

Well, for one reason there were a certain number of people who would turn out year after year with comments and quotes such as ‘The Boxing Day Run is For Life and not just Christmas.’ Or ‘The Boxing Day Run is the best part of Christmas.’ 

During the last few years these same people have either given up running or decided that getting soaking wet and cold during the Christmas festivities is not for them anymore. 

Eastern Daily Press: Teams of runners all doing their best to follow the Boxing Day Charity Run trail.

A mad run it most certainly is what with numerous teams of runners all in fancy dress and covered in mud following a trail left by myself and a guest runner to help me out with the marking. The last couple of years and again this year, my good friend Jason Wright who appropriately is also from Felthorpe. 

What better way to blow the cobwebs out first thing on December 26, whilst also raising awareness and money for various charities such as Nelson’s Journey, The Hallswood Animal Sanctury and several dog rescue and other wildlife causes? 

Over the years, this fund raising has amounted to thousands of pounds thanks to all the super donations given by those who have either taken part or help officiate along with businesses such as Gary Cooper Paving, Rock Solid Graphics & Print, Felthorpe Lawnmower Services and The Little Norfolk Farm in Horsford. 

This is also an event where several top sporting stars and personalities have taken part and not just from running, but football, boxing, cricket and speedway too. Names such as Jon Thaxton, Jackson Williams, Sam Sexton, Gary Briggs and Herbie Hide from Boxing, Daryl Sutch, Cedric Anselin and Rob Newman from football, Ashley Watson and David Thomas from cricket and former speedway champion Ollie Allen. Then a whole host of top Norfolk runners including international athletes such as Guy Amos and Nigel Arnold. However, more on these two later.  

Anyway, and going back to why I have changed my mind. Well, firstly because one of my oldest running mates, Dave Mytton, who first brought the fancy dress element to the event 20 years ago has asked me to keep it going even if it is for just one more time what with him not having taken part during the last few years.

Eastern Daily Press: Boxing Day Fancy Dress Runners following the trail left by Neil Featherby. 

“I would love to give it one more go,” he said and I am sure he won’t mind me mentioning that he also now suffers with Parkinsons Disease too. 

This just sums up Dave though. When he sets his mind to something, he does it. He will also have some super people (friends and family) in his team which will make for a very special occasion. 

Other veterans of the run such as Nigel Arnold and Guy Amos also want to give it one more go albeit with Dave.  

So how did it start? 

Well, going right back to Boxing Day 2001 when out on a long run with a large group of runners, my mind went back to when finding a fox in Felthorpe the previous Boxing Day which had been shot. 

Most people who know me well enough will know I have a huge love for all animals, especially, dogs, wolves, and foxes. So much so I now devote a big part of my life to animal and fox rescue. 

However, and as we neared the end of the run whilst thinking about the fox, I decided to go through a section of woodland which you can only describe as a muddy bog underfoot. As I knew my way out, I took off leaving the others to navigate their own way out.  

‘I’m the fox,’ I thought to myself, and they aren’t catching me. I could hear shouting and calling behind me which just brought a huge smile to my face. 

By the way, they did not catch me and by the time they got back to my place despite being covered in mud, they were all laughing. 

This of course turned out to be the catalyst of what was to become the Felthorpe Hare (or Fox) & Hounds Run the following year. 

So, here’s now looking forward to what will be the 22nd running of this event which I will once again be dedicating to the memory of Mr Felthorpe Fox and a lovely old Felthorpe village resident by the name of George who until his passing would turn out every Boxing Day morning to cheer the runners on. 

For anyone who would like more info, then please do email me on neil@sportlink.co.uk  

However, please be aware that this really is just a crazy non-competitive run designed to have fun, get wet and very muddy whilst raising awareness for our designated causes. Oh, did I say non-competitive? Actually, the event is competitive but only in respect of which team walks away with the award for being the best group of runners in fancy dress.