Fancy dress teams prepare for the 15th Felthorpe Hare and Hound Charity Boxing Day Run to blow away their Christmas excesses
- Credit: Archant
For the 15th time, Neil Featherby will spend his Boxing Day morning leading runners through the Norfolk wilderness – and he wouldn't have it any other way.
This year's Felthorpe Boxing Day Hare and Hounds Run will see 17 teams and 96 runners get creative with their fancy dress before chasing down the day's hare – that as always being Featherby, a former professional runner and current owner of Sportlink running and fitness specialists in Taverham.
And not only is it for a post-Christmas laugh and some much needed exercise after the festive excesses. It does its bit for charity too.
'It's fun; a mid-Christmas blowout – but it's grown over the last few years to what it is now,' said Featherby.
'Fifteen years ago no one even knew I was going to do it. I remember Jon Thaxton and a couple of the guys turned up at my house for the usual Boxing Day morning run. I had a can of spray in my hand and said I'm going off 12 minutes ahead of you, I'm going to mark some arrows on the floor and you're going to follow me.
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'They didn't know where I was going but I already had it in my mind I was going to go through some streams and mud and everything else.
'I just did it to be different. The next year we had about 18 people come along and it's gone from there, from up to 50 people who I used to just phone up or email – and now to a proper event.'
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In those 15 years, Featherby's fun run has raised more than £20,000 for local charities – as well as charitable causes to help those in the community. East Anglian Air Ambulance, The Big C along with the Hallswood Animal Sanctuary, local dog-rescue centres and Felthorpe Village Hall are all among those who have benefitted from the annual Hare and Hound.
But while the runners take on mud, wet and fears, the only real prize goes to who looks best taking it on. In 2015, a group of Star Wars characters took top honours.
'It's never the same course,' added Featherby. 'But there are certain features that reappear, like Drayton Drewray which is basically a bog. By the time 100 runners go through it, you seriously are stuck in it up to your chest. The reason it's a team event is because people really need to work together to get each other out.
'We go though all the streams and rivers in the area, and it's cold at this time of year too. All that, and compulsory fancy dress too. That's what makes the event what it is. No one wants to win the race anyway. They all want to win the best fancy dress.
'Anyone who knows us and knows the event, knows how good it is. So anyone around Felthorpe at 8am on Boxing day, don't be surprised at what you see.'
• Anyone who wants to get involved in the Felthorpe Boxing Day Hare and Hounds Run can find out more in the event's Facebook group
• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey and Facebook @mbjourno