Neil Featherby: Memories for the Norfolk Marathon

Neil Featherby Norfolk Marathon 1990

Neil Featherby on his way to winning the last Norfolk Marathon in 1990 with the magnificent setting of Blicking Hall in the background. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

This coming Monday will be 39 years to the day of what was the very first Norfolk Marathon which started at Kelling just outside Holt and finished at the Norwich Cathedral 26.2 miles later.  

However, I should say more like 26.4 miles after we later found out upon remeasuring in 1988 that it was 300 metres over distance.  

The variation in distances between 1982 and 88 was mainly due to the changes via the road systems round and through Aylsham at half way for which by the time it was remeasured by affiliated course measurer the late Roger Gibbons, he basically took a straight road through and out of Aylsham on the Cromer Road which of course then headed into the city via Hellesdon at 23 miles.  

Norfolk Marathon 1989

Start of the Norfolk Marathon at Kelling in 1989. - Credit: Archant

Roger, a former Duke Street Runner and good friend, certainly never gave anything away when it came to measuring road racing courses, so when he said it was over distance, you knew it was.  

Needless to say of course and in truth it was no big deal unless of course you missed out on going under a specific target time such as three hours by a few seconds. As the original race director and previous course measurer Mike Wilkinson said to me, “better to be over distance than under distance!”  

Incidentally, the 1985 marathon finished at the Norwich Rugby Club due to work on the Cathedral at the time. 

Anyway, I wrote a pretty big article about the Norfolk Marathon last year, so I am not going to repeat myself so soon, but thanks to several people, including the EDP, I have compiled several old photographs and press cuttings from each of the nine races which took place between 1982 and 1990 which I will be posting on to social media on Monday.

Norfolk Marathon finisher medal

One of the many finisher medals for those that took part in the Norfolk Marathon. - Credit: Neil Featherby


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Whilst it really will be very rustic, I do hope it raises a few fond memories for all those people who were involved in the organisation and of course all those thousands of people who took part in one or more of those races. 

Moving on, how good is it to see athletics taking place at the Sportspark again tonight (Friday April 30th) organised by Athletics Norfolk?  

Needless to say whilst following very careful guidelines, but just so really nice to see athletes of varying abilities and ages all putting their spikes and trainers on again to compete.  

The Sportlink / Cool Campers Smile Mile quarter finals which were originally planned for last year will also be held in conjunction with this meeting which I am sure will help to make the evening even more super special and exciting. 

Good luck to everyone running tonight and of course to all those people working hard and helping out so as to ensure that the meeting runs as smoothly as possible.    

First Norfolk marathon course map

A map of the course for the first Norfolk Marathon. - Credit: Neil Featherby

Norfolk Marathon programme cover

Programme cover for the first Norfolk Marathon in 1982. - Credit: Neil Featherby