Neil Featherby: My biggest marathon regret...

Neil Featherby Bermunda Marathon

Neil Featherby finishing the Bermuda Marathon - one of the most scenic races he ever took part in. - Credit: Neil Featherby

Having ran in several marathons during my competitive years of running, I was sent an email from someone the other day asking me a number of questions with regards to my best finishing time, favourite ever marathon and of course any regrets and worst experience. 

Off the top of my head, I am pretty sure that I ran a total of 28 marathons with 18 under 2 hours 30 mins, two under 2:20 although there should have been a third one what with one marathon being completed in 2:20:33 and was later found to be 300 metres over distance and 15 marathons between 2:17:35 and 2:25:26. 

Boston Marathon wall Sportlink

The Boston Marathon wall at Sportlink - Credit: Neil Featherby

 Before I come on to favourite/s and worst experience though, I will start with regrets and whilst I do very much regret not running in the Toronto, Melbourne and Delhi marathons along with the Two Oceans 56km Ultra Marathon in Cape Town, South Africa after receiving all expenses paid invitations for each of them, my biggest regret still has to be not having ran in the Boston Marathon in the US which of course once again took place on Bank Holiday Monday this week. Or as it is called in Boston, Patriots Day which is always on the third Monday in the month of April. 

This is a race which has traditionally taken place on this day dating right back to 1897 and is officially the world’s longest running marathon with only one year since that first one when it hasn’t taken place which of course was in 2020 due to the covid pandemic. 

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There are always several Brits who travel out each year to take part and whilst I think that there is still a qualifying time required before entry based upon gender and age, when I first started running, senior men had to have a sub 2:40 marathon to their name before being accepted into the event. 

At Sportlink we have a wall section dedicated to the race such is my fascination by it.  

With regards to my favourite marathons though, I of course look towards my PBs and race wins along with England and GB selection races. But if I had to say best ever time away overseas and the most scenic of places, then Bermuda, Hong Kong and Berlin (twice) particularly as the Wall was still up at the time. Other overseas trips such as Malta, Kosice which was in Czechoslovakia back then and Deluth in Minnesota (despite finishing in a severely dehydrated state) are also places where I have raced marathons which I have special memories of.   

Neil Featherby Hong Kong Marathon

Neil Featherby amongst the leading three athletes in the Hong Kong Marathon - one of his most memorable marathons - Credit: Neil Featherby

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My worst experience has to be when as many a marathon runner will know is when having stomach cramps which I did on two occasions at Wolverhampton in 1982 (my first marathon) and when running for England in Luton in 1991. 

The Crete marathon in 1988 was also not one of my better ones and whilst this time it was not down to stomach issues, it was a race as far as I was concerned which turned out to be nothing more than a long training run (2:38) after what was not only a very hilly course, but also took place in temperatures which soared up into the 90F’s. 

If I had to pick a category of the craziest, then that has to be the Palermo Marathon in Sicily in 1990, but that is another story in itself. 

All in all though, and even though Boston is missing from the list, I loved every moment for which I am still extremely satisfied with what in many ways was a running privilege when it came to being able to run marathons in so many amazing places. 

Neil Featherby Deluth Marathon

Neil Featherby in the finishing straight at the Deluth Marathon in Minnesota - a race he finished in a severely dehydrated state - Credit: Neil Featherby

Before signing off for another week, I must just say well done to Wymondham’s Keith Blake who not only completed this year’s Boston Marathon but has also now completed what is the Grand Slam of all the Big 6 City Marathons. Further mentions must also go to other Norfolk athletes who I can find amongst the results with Marc Coles 2:52:07, Harriet Carr 3:10:53, Lee Wilson 3:12:08, Paul Smith 3:13:37, Shaun Cleworth 3:21:05, Kevin Holland 3:22:30, Ian Bell 3:24:21, Lisa Bolton 3:33:52, Nicola Hill 3:51:18 and Angela Bell 4:45:06. Whilst I know some will be over the moon with their finishing times and others perhaps not so happy, all in all it is still a big well done to all of them for finishing what is arguably the world’s most famous marathon.