Neil Featherby: How times have changed... or have they?

YouTube running man Ben Felton

YouTuber Ben Felton - one to follow! - Credit: Neil Featherby

We have Ben Felton in store at Sportlink from 11am on Saturday. 

For those who don’t know who Ben is - and I doubt there are too many people in the running community who don't - he is a very well known and popular running YouTuber (Ben is Running) with a huge following of more than 20,000 subscribers.

While he does have this huge following and a big reputation, he is still regarded only as a very good county standard club runner who is yet to break 32 minutes for 10k, although I am pretty sure that it is only a matter of time before he not only breaks that barrier, but even goes under 30 minutes.

Back in January he just scraped into the Essex team for the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, which were held at Loughborough last weekend, where he gained his first ever county vest. Such has been his rapid improvements of late, though, he not only finished ahead of all the other Essex runners, but crossed the finish line in 35th place.

Callum Bowen Jones on his way to victory at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Daniel

Callum Bowen Jones - Credit: Archant

Those who follow high-level athletics will know that this is a superb performance. In fact, our first runner home from Norfolk was Callum Bowen Jones in 56th place, and as I coach him, I was absolutely made up with his performance after what has been a long, hard winter of training and racing.

Anyway, as someone whose own running history points to hard work rather than an abundance of natural running ability, I love it when I see people really going for it with sheer single-mindedness and a determination to put the hard work in month after month and even year after year.

Ben has most certainly proved that if you are prepared to train hard on a consistent basis just how possible it is to achieve race times and performances which may have seemed out of reach when first starting out.

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Apart from this, I also think his popularity lends itself to the fact that he has shown and inspired others into believing that if he can, then they can - while also making some very good YouTube films of his racing, training and lifestyle I hasten to add. Incidentally, he also runs with a camera which certainly adds to the quality of his films.

If you have nothing else to do this Saturday and would like to check Ben out in person, then please do come along and meet him and if you also want to go out for a run with him (easy recovery run he said), then he will be doing this from the store at 2pm.

Going back to the Inter Counties X/C Champs and our Norfolk teams, apart from Callum Bowen Jones’ excellent performance, he was very ably backed up in the senior men’s race by Logan Smith in 70th place, Jacob Ocal 152nd, Luke Alden 155th, Sam Stevens 157th, Michael Eccles 180th, Dom Blake 183rd, Sam Todd 209th and Neil Adams 226th.

In the senior women's race, Iona Lake really did show her class when leading home the ladies team in 15th place, with Mabel Beckett 25th, Jo Andrews a brilliant 61st, Colleen Mukuya 89th, Jet Watkinson 141st, Kate Murrell 167th, Sophie Peach 173rd and Leisha Wegg 249th. 

The men’s team finished 17th out of 34 with the ladies finishing ninth place from 30 teams.

Apologies to all those in the other age groups I have not mentioned, but a huge well done to all of them.

Finally – I must just say once again a huge thank you to all my friends and everyone who has supported what has been our Cross Norfolk Challenge raising money for brilliant charities and causes under the name of my husky dog Loki who is terminally ill (Anything for Loki).

This Sunday will hopefully be the last stint with at least 38 miles of the Wherryman’s Way from Great Yarmouth to Carrow Road. I am pretty confident, or at least hoping, that we will also get very close to our target of £4,000, which is amazing. 

To say it has already been emotional is an understatement. However, come the last few miles on Sunday when we'll hopefully also be running with Loki, I am sure it will be even more so.

For anyone who may wonder why we are running from Great Yarmouth to Norwich as opposed to the other way around, it is for a number of reasons: it makes it more accessible for friends and family who may want to join us for the last few miles or see us at the finish and of course not having to haul Loki along with his mum Tala and sister Luna all the way to Great Yarmouth in the van.