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Neil Featherby: It’s been a tough, rewarding few weeks...but now the hard work really starts

Neil Featherby, right, with Nelson's Journey chief executive and seasoned runner Simon Wright. Picture: Neil Featherby

Neil Featherby, right, with Nelson's Journey chief executive and seasoned runner Simon Wright. Picture: Neil Featherby

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Running expert and Sportlink owner Neil Featherby is ready for his next challenge...

Neil Featherby is planning to run the 84 miles of Hadrian's Wall in 24 hours. Picture: Neil FeatherbyNeil Featherby is planning to run the 84 miles of Hadrian's Wall in 24 hours. Picture: Neil Featherby

As mentioned in my column last week, life has been rather hectic of late what with the new refit at Sportlink, which really does look pretty special albeit still not quite finished.

The official opening last weekend was absolutely superb, which I have to thank so many people for their efforts, from the builders to the electrician, decorator and the graphic designers.

However, I most certainly have to give a huge thank you to all my staff who worked so hard through the bank holiday weekend and the hundreds of customers and friends who came into see us with gifts and items to add to the weekend’s celebrations.

Also in last week’s column, I mentioned that I am at last going to try and complete one of the challenges which I promised to do when turning 60 earlier this year. The challenge being to once again run the full length of Hadrian’s Wall after doing it 10 years ago when turning 50.

Having considerably upped my training mileage during the last month, let’s just say delusion possibly does get worse with age or most certainly in my case.

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Having not done a long run for years, piling in the miles does not come as easy as it used to any more.

I also did my first 20 miler in 10 years just last weekend which also confirmed that this old body of mine doesn’t move as efficiently as it once did.

Nevertheless, the idea is to try and complete the 84 miles over some pretty hilly and very tough terrain as near to 24 hours as we possibly can.

When you think about it, everything in your head says it should be easy as a very slow walking pace of just 4mph will get you home within the time limit, but as any long distance runner knows, it doesn’t work like that.

Trying to run so very slowly early on is tough, but after a few hours, once the fatigue of just being on your legs for several hours whilst constantly moving forward up the steep climbs, if we get it wrong and the wheels come off, even 1mph will become mentally and physically hard.

On the plus side for me, I am doing it with two really good friends and great runners, Chas Allen and Jason Wright whilst also having support back up from Baz Hipwell and Mark Hewlett. Baz and Mark really will have an important role to play with making sure we stay in one piece and meeting us at various destinations on route to make sure that our required kit and feed are ready for us when we arrive at the check points.

Chas is an absolute genius when it comes to talking about fitness, physiology, nutrition and anything else that is applicable to how our bodies function, and whilst I pride myself with having pretty good knowledge myself, I am certainly going to take advantage of picking his brains as much as possible during the long haul.

As with every challenge it is always good to have something in the back of your mind to keep you going for which we will also be raising money for The Hallswood Animal Sanctuary and Nelson’s Journey.

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I have been a volunteer at Hallswood for several years now and have known Simon Wright, the chief executive at Nelson’s Journey, for some time too. Simon who is usually close to the front of most local races, called me up after hearing of our challenge and of course hearing that we are raising funds for his charity to say how pleased he was. He also went on to tell me a bit more about some of the amazing work they do.

Last year alone, 952 children and young people aged between 0-17 years were referred to them following a death of a significant person in their lives. Nelson’s Journey helps provide support for such children whilst also providing further guidance and education to parents, carers and other professionals.

Needless to say I don’t have enough space to write about it all in great depth, but that along with the brilliant work done by Lyz Hall and her team at Hallswood, this will most certainly help to drive us on especially when the going does start to get tough.

If anyone would like to make a donation towards our efforts, we will be setting up a Go Fund Me page which will go out on social media. Alternatively, just pop into Sportlink where either myself and Chas Allen can be found or at Felthorpe Lawnmowers for Jason Wright.

I would also once again like to thank local runner Kelly Beales at Capricorn Campers, Nick Gracie at UNNU Endurance Sports Nutrition, Carlos Rybeck at On Running and Gareth Hickin at Polar for their much valued support.

Finally, I must say a huge well done to Nigel Arnold and his team for their brilliant efforts last week when cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats in just six days….phenomenal!

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