Neil Featherby: The aches and pains are all worth it

Neil Featherby Anything For Loki

Anything for Loki and an early start in King's Lynn for runners as they set off along the Nar Valley Way last Sunday. - Credit: Neil Featherby

What with the awful things going on in Ukraine, once again it has also shown just how people can come together whilst going out of their way to try and do their bit by way of helping those who are affected.

This of course has also made me think about my Cross Norfolk Challenge which we started last Sunday morning whilst raising money for causes here at home which are very close to my heart. And of course all in the name of my Husky Loki, who is terminally ill.

The response has been amazing, it really has. So many people making donations towards our causes and joining up with us to run, walk and I have to say after last Sunday’s 34.12 miles of the Nar Valley Way, shuffling along with me. 

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Yes, my back, hips, groins and hamstrings are hanging in there… just! However, it is for the love of Loki and thinking about all those people who are far worse off than what just a few aches and pains are for me, which will keep me going.

As always, we were a little late getting away, but at 7.30am in King’s Lynn in what can only be described as very wet, cold and windy conditions, we were off. 

Anything for Loki Neil Featherby

After just over 34 miles and Team Loki complete the Nar Valley Way during their Cross Norfolk Challenge. - Credit: Neil Featherby

It was certainly emotional too what with Loki and his mum Tala and sister Luna running with us for the first 2.5 miles and then again at the end of the run.

As for the run itself, I do have to admit that with not having ran more than seven miles in any single run for over a year, I was very conscious of that fact that every mile beyond seven might have been the one where I came to a grinding halt.

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Nevertheless and with the support of friends Craig Bowen Jones, Karen Grapes, Jason Wright, Chas Allen, Pete Johnson and Natalie Pannell (and her dogs), they all very much in their own way made the full journey so much more doable. 

Needless to say thanks to Steph, my partner, and her parents, Steve and Shelia, too along with Tracey Bowen Jones and Mark Pannel for their support on route.

Then after a couple of days of just very easy jogging (Monday and Tuesday) with my huskies, it was time to go again on Wednesday evening to get a few more miles completed with Team Loki and several good friends and staff from Sportlink.  

Instead of running from Sunday’s finish in Gressenhall along the Wensum Way though, what with it being dark and too risky, we decided to run along Marriott’s Way from Taverham into Norwich finishing at the football ground and at what will be the start of the Wherryman’s Way into Great Yarmouth where we will complete our 100-mile journey. 

Anything for Loki Neil Featherby

Team Loki and friends, three miles into their challenge upon leaving King's Lynn and heading for Gressenhall. - Credit: Neil Featherby

Before anyone mentions missing out the Wensum Way and Marriott’s Way to Taverham, don’t worry, we will be doing this section on Sunday morning subject to my aching body allowing me.

The donations which have come in for our causes really has been overwhelming and whilst I am so very grateful for this, at the same time I am also so very grateful knowing that it is all in the name of my boy Loki. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Finally, I must just say good luck to everyone who is competing in this Saturday’s Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Loughborough whilst also saying well done to all involved with the Norfolk teams at the Regional Sportshall Championships last weekend after taking a full clean sweep of wins in each of the U11, U13 and U15s along with two further wins in the U15s all-rounder.

The Under 13 and Under 15 teams will now progress to the National Final on April 10.

Keep on running and maybe I will see some of you on the Wensum Way and Marriott’s Way on Sunday morning (keep an eye on the Sportlink and Run Anglia Facebook pages for more details).

You can donate to the Anything for Loki Cross Norfolk Challenge here