Neil Featherby: The story of our Anything for Loki Cross Norfolk Challenge

Anything for Loki finish

An emotional finish to the Anything for Loki Cross Norfolk Challenge for Neil Featherby and husky Loki. - Credit: Dave Hutcheon

So, all done and dusted, and I can honestly say that this latest challenge of running from King’s Lynn to Great Yarmouth via the Nar Valley Way, Wensum Way, Marriott’s Way, Riverside Walk and Wherryman’s Way had just about everything in terms of being a long running challenge. 

As I said from the start and before going into this, I had not completed a run of over seven miles for at least 12 months, so stage one on March 6 was always going to be about chancing my luck and hopefully being able to cover 34.12 miles of the Nar Valley Way just on memory. 

However, and apart from the last mile where I did get hungry, be it memory or perhaps just long-term fitness, I did find it very doable.   

The next few days did hit me like a ton of bricks though what with my back, hips, groins and just about every muscle and joint from the waist below retaliating. 

Neil Featherby Anything for Loki Challenge

So happy to be finished having ran close to 100 miles during their long running challenge. - Credit: Tina Wilde

Whilst leg two the following Sunday should have been from Gressenhall to Norwich (approx 25 miles), we decided to sneak in and run the section of Marriott’s Way from Taverham into Norwich followed by the Wensum Walk Way to Carrow Road just three days after Nar Valley as I really did not fancy doing this stretch on what I knew would be very busy on a Sunday morning. 

In hindsight, that may have been a mistake as my body was in bits, which of course then made for what was a tough running (mostly walking) of the Wensum Way and Marriott’s Way to Taverham a few days later (March 13). Less than half the distance (16.5 miles) of the previous week, but it felt so much harder. 

To say I was concerned that I was not going to be ready and able to do the last and longest leg of the Wherryman’s Way is an understatement. 

Most Read

Miraculously though, and somehow not only did my body recover, but during those final few days of last week, my training took on a new meaning and whilst I still did not do anything over seven miles, last Thursday and just three days before Sunday’s final effort, I even managed to run three times that day. I also decided to do away with my trail shoes and go back to road shoes which I feel also made a big difference. 

Neil Featherby Anything for Loki Challenge

All happy and set for the off for the final leg culminating in the 36.5 miles of the Wherryman's Way. - Credit: Chas Allen

Now there was also one further twist to all of this, and it was only decided just a couple of days beforehand when Steph’s mum Sheila said to me: “Why don’t you start in Great Yarmouth and finish at Carrow Road in Norwich?”  

Initially not everyone liked this idea, but when weighing it all up, it was spot on.  

Firstly, because at last we had a tail wind and with all due respect the finish at the football ground was much nicer than completing our run at the railway station in Gt Yarmouth. Most importantly though, it made it so much more accessible for friends and family to meet us at the finish whilst of course also not having to haul Loki and his mum Tala and sister Luna all that way in the van. 

As for this final run which totalled 36.5 miles depending upon if you went on my watch or Karen Grapes and Craig Bowen Jones watches (theirs all said slightly further than mine, but I did start and stop my watch every time we came to a gate), it really was the best run of them all.  

Don’t get me wrong, every single mile from the start in King’s Lynn was special, but the scenery and some of the sights along the way whilst heading into Norwich were amazing. 

Anything for Loki Neil Featherby

The official start of the Wherryman's Way in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Neil Featherby

As for the finish when running the last 100 metres or so down the slight slope in Carrow Road towards the football ground with Lokes, Luna, Tala and some of the best friends you could wish to have whilst also being met by equally good friends cheering us on, can only be described as so very emotional. 

Whilst I have to say a huge thank you all those people who have made donations, I do have to mention by name the following people who all played a part in this be it by just way of supporting or running anything from a few miles to all the way - Craig, Tracey and Callum Bowen Jones, Karen Grapes, Steph, Sheila, Steve and Sammy Jones, Jason Wright, Chas Allen, Steve and Tina Wilde, Dave and Brenda Hutcheon, Mark Armstrong, Natalie and Mark Pannell (plus dogs) Pete Johnson, Phil and Jo Hutchings,  Chris Mickleburgh, Harry and Diane Collins, Heidi Bacon, Adie and Gary Grand, Mark Thorpe, Danny Beck, Ian Thomas and Nigel and Jo Powley, who all at some point carried and pushed me on. 

In total we have raised over £4,500 which may be even nearer to £5,000 by the time we have got all monies in. 

Anything for Loki has been a challenge which I so badly wanted to get done whilst we still have this special and beautiful boy and with that, this challenge will remain in not just my memory, but my heart forever more. 

All donations will be forwarded to our brilliant causes The Hallswood Animal Sanctuary – Nelson’s Journey – Pawpers in The Ruff – NI Dog Rescue – Fox Angels.