Neil Featherby: Don’t be afraid - running clubs are a lot more welcoming than you think

Neil Featherby - the man behind the Felthorpe Hare and Hounds Boxing Day run. Picture: Denise Bradle

Neil Featherby - the man behind the Felthorpe Hare and Hounds Boxing Day run. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

Another major athletics championships over and, despite some of the issues and controversies, settling down each evening to watch the latest instalment and day's action really was something I looked forward to.

We didn't win as many medals as hoped for especially outside of the relays and how sad to see Usain Bolt go out in the way which he did, but for all those who love the sport we all now wait for the next chapter to begin.

Moving on to events closer to home, I have to say how absolutely amazing it is to see so many local races hitting maximum numbers well before race day.

MORE: There is an event out there for everyoneThis weekend will see runners heading for Dereham to take part in the Dereham Runners annual 5k road race and whilst the likelihood is that the winning time won't be anywhere near as quick as that of the men's or even woman's World Championships gold medal winning performances, the hundreds of fun runners mixing in with the more serious club runners just goes to show how very popular the sport currently is. It also demonstrates why it is so important for all our stars of the future to be supported for the long time good of athletics.

Needless to say this starts with schools athletics, junior parkruns and of course the specialist coaching at the many running clubs in our county.

However, and whilst talking about the future of junior athletes, there are so many people out there running of all ages with many having taken to this pastime well beyond that of what would have been considered swapping running shoes for a set of bowls two or three decades ago.

I regularly come into contact with people who, it is fair to say, are well into middle age and beyond who deep down would also like to run with a club, but shy away in the fear of not being good enough.

However, the reality of the matter is that this notion couldn't be further from the truth.

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Whether you run 15-minute mile pace or indeed sub five-minute mile, you will receive a warm welcome and support upon joining as the one thing you can be sure of is whatever the standard, each person will have the same shared passion for running which is also extended towards helping others.

Since starting to write these support columns to Mark (Armstrong), my e mails have considerably increased asking for my thoughts and views on many aspects of running.

MORE: The running boom continues but foundations were laid by one manNeedless to say some disagreeing with what I may have said which is great as this is what it is all about.

Getting people talking about one of my favourite subjects is the whole idea.

Going forward and I have spoken to Mark about this, but the idea is to write about as many aspects of the sport as possible including that of individuals and clubs who have been so instrumental in making things happen when it comes to the local road running scene.

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