Neil Featherby: My Cross Norfolk Challenge is set to get under way

Neil Featherby is embarking on a Cross Norfolk Challenge to raise money for charity after his belove

Neil Featherby is embarking on a Cross Norfolk Challenge to raise money for charity after his beloved dog, Loki, fell ill recently. - Credit: Lee Blanchflower

Before I go off on my usual tangents and chat about what is currently consuming my running life just right now, I must say a huge well done to everyone from Norfolk and beyond who took part in last Saturday’s National Cross-Country Championships at Parliament Hill Fields. 

I think it is fair to say that the races most certainly lived up to expectations what with the usual stampede for positions at the start followed by what really is a hard slog from there on in to the finish. The course has just about everything you would expect from a real cross country race - hills, mud, twists and turns and of course downhill and flat fast sections - usually just as your legs have filled up with lactic acid from ploughing through a heavily mudded section. 

I did also say that each person would come away with their own story of the day and memories which will last for many years to come.  

On a personal note, friends and those who follow me on Facebook or perhaps read my column of two weeks ago, will know that I intend on taking on another running challenge to raise money for some of my favourite charities and causes. 

Whilst 2022 had originally been geared up for taking on three challenges ie The Boudicca Way, Nar Valley Way and then the big one, Hadrian’s Wall, those followers and readers will also know that this has now changed to what is the Cross Norfolk Challenge.  

In other words running, walking and no doubt lots of shuffling of what will be several trails all linked up to one which starts in King’s Lynn and finishes in Great Yarmouth. 

Followers will also know that the reason of the change is because four weeks ago (Saturday, February 5), I noticed that one of my huskies and daily running partners, Loki was just not himself and despite still heading out, it was a case of a very quick turn around and dash to the vets when it was touch and go in respect of him surviving. So much so he was hospitalised for six days at Taverham vets where they really did save his life. He had an internal bleed, losing 2.5 litres of blood which also meant the removal of his spleen.  

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However, and so very heartbreakingly, there were other complications and despite the fact that if you saw him right now you would think there was not a lot wrong with him, his time with us is now very limited for which I am making the most of every single moment with him and my two other dogs. 

I also now want to do this Cross Norfolk Challenge all in his name – “Anything for Loki” - to not only honour him, but also get it started while we still have him. In fact I want him and his mum Tala and sister Luna to start it with us for which I have decided to get it underway this coming Sunday morning starting at King’s Lynn at approximately 7am. 

I am not sure how far we will get on day one, but apart from being with the huskies, my partner Steph and some of my best friends, we will also be meeting up with lots of other well-known and super people from the running community on route.   

The response to this really has been overwhelming with money being donated to our gofundme page and instore at Sportlink along with some amazing items to be raffled off to further boost funds. 

What with other awful events currently taking place out there in this big wide world, I cannot thank people enough for their support along with the local media particularly Mark Armstrong, the EDP, Evening News and BBC Radio Norfolk where I can honestly say the interview I gave with Chris Goreham on his breakfast show earlier this week has to be one of the toughest I have ever had to do. 

Every single pound which comes in will be going to all our designated causes which are Nelson’s Journey, headed up by Simon Wright, who himself is a super runner, and then to four animal related causes which I love to help. They being the Hallswood Animal Sanctuary, Fox Angels and two dog rescues - Pawpers in the Ruff and the Northern Inuit Dog Rescue. 

Apart from all those people who have already told me that they intend coming along or meeting up with us on route, this really is open to anyone who would like to join us if only to walk or jog a mile or two with us. 

For those who would like more details, then please do contact me via Facebook messenger or email neil@sportlink.co.uk or to make a donation click here