Neil Featherby: Norwich City chaplains deserve success in their 7 in 7 challenge

Neil Featherby has been training Jon Norman and Lewis Blois for their 7 in 7 challenge. Picture: Neil Featherby

Neil Featherby has been training Jon Norman and Lewis Blois for their 7 in 7 challenge. Picture: Neil Featherby


Talking to Mark Armstrong, earlier this week about those flat feelings which he is now feeling after his marathon in Manchester last week, I explained that this is all perfectly normal.

After what has been weeks and even what may have seemed at the time as never ending months, when it is all over particularly after having produced a great effort on the day, there will always be a comedown at some point after a high. This is also where it is a good idea to look for another goal once your body has recovered so as to keep your motivation levels high.

Now, talking of being motivated and having a goal, how about this one? Jon Norman and Lewis Blois (former Norwich City and Kings Lynn FC professional footballer), most certainly have a big challenge ahead of them starting this coming Monday.

They both plan to run seven marathons in seven days which includes marathon number six finishing at Carrow Road of all places during the half time break of what will be Norwich City's last home game of the season against Blackburn.

Jon and Lewis approached me early last year about putting together a training plan for them and whilst they both already had a running background which included having run marathons before, the training for this project really did need to be structured carefully and even more so what with them both having had a bit of a lay off from running long distances.

I said right from the start that whilst they will do a lot of their training preparations together, what with their very busy lifestyles and of course any unforeseeable events which might happen along the way, they would both also end up having to follow a slightly different path to get to the start line.

Nevertheless and whilst I was correct in my judgement what with an earlier calf injury problem for Lewis and a knee issue for Jon, plus a couple of colds thrown into the mix, they have both been pretty much spot on with their preparations for which I am sure the pair of them will use all their mental and physical strength to help them complete what is actually going to be a run of 183.4 miles.

Needless to say there has to be a reason why they are doing this challenge.

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Firstly, the pair of them are Chaplains at Norwich City Football Club, whilst Jon is also lead pastor at the Soul Church currently based in Mason Road, in Norwich. This awesome feat is all about raising awareness of the Soul Church and the work they carry out whilst also trying to help raise further funds which will go towards their new proposed home which is to hopefully be built on the land where the Mount Zion church opposite the Open Academy on the Norwich outer ring road once stood.

Whilst I have known Lewis and his family for many years going right back to his days when becoming Norwich City's first young player to sign pro forms after the old three year scholarship system, Jon has also been a very good friend of mine for at least the same amount of time.

Like Lewis, he really is so very dedicated to everything he does which is shown in his work at the church which has also led him to having spent time in many other countries helping others too.

I best also mention that he was a decent goalkeeper in his day what with being a trialist at Norwich City and then spending two seasons with Norwich United. However, and in a nutshell they are both two great guys who I have really enjoyed working with on this project.

Everything about them as people, never mind all the hard work they have put in, tells me that they will complete their 7 in 7 challenge whilst also raising money for what really is such a fantastic cause and hence why they have the support from the likes of Jake Humphrey and Norwich City's sporting director Stuart Webber who will also be running marathon number four with them.

In Jon's own words: “I'm not passionate about the building, but I am passionate about the impact on people's lives that this new building will have. It will be a safe place where young people can hang out and have fun, somewhere for the lonely to come along too and a place to help feed the homeless. However last, but not least, a place for you and me.”

For those who like to make a note of statistics, since August, they have both covered a journey in training which would take them from Norwich to Gibraltar in 288 hours, burnt 250,000kcals, and taken 2.7 million steps. How can they fail after that?

For anyone who might like to cheer them on or even join in for a few miles, then see the schedule below. Alternatively for anyone who would like more details or to make a donation, please see the link.

April 22nd – Marriotts Way from Aylsham to Norwich finishing at the Cathedral.

April 23rd – A free run from the Soul Church in Mason Road, whereby they will just take themselves off until having completed just over 26.2 miles.

April 24th – Two Laps of the Norwich outer ring road plus a lap of the Whittlingham Lane lake footpath.

April 25th - 40 laps of the NCFC Training ground at Colney.

April 26th – 26.2 miles of The Norfolk Coastal Footpath (Morston to Burnham Overy Staith and back).

April 27th – 26.2 miles starting at the NCFC Training Ground finishing at Carrow Road during the half time break.

April 28th – Five loops from The Soul Church, Mason Road to the new proposed site at Heartsease and back.

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