Neil Featherby: How Kevin Youngs continues to smash out times many runners would love

Kevin finishing the London Marathon in a PB time of 2:36:28 in 1985. Picture: Neil Featherby

Kevin finishing the London Marathon in a PB time of 2:36:28 in 1985. Picture: Neil Featherby - Credit: Archant

Picture the scene, I am warming up prior to a race in West Norfolk back in 1983 when I can see this guy all of about five feet five inches running towards me bedecked in what was the top of the range gear at the time – a New Balance Gore Tex suit and training shoes.

Kevin Youngs running for his club, Norfolk Gazelles, in the East Anglian League. Picture: Neil Feat

Kevin Youngs running for his club, Norfolk Gazelles, in the East Anglian League. Picture: Neil Featherby - Credit: Archant

He's obviously sponsored I was thinking to myself just as he said: "You're 'Niall' Featherby aren't you?"

I looked at him and said: "Neil Featherby, have we met?"

He started laughing and said: "No, I live just up the road from you and see you run past my house all the time."

Anyway after a little further conversation and race completed, we agreed to meet up for a training run.

Neil Featherby and Kevin Youngs prior to leaving for the Leicester Marathon in 1984. Picture: Neil F

Neil Featherby and Kevin Youngs prior to leaving for the Leicester Marathon in 1984. Picture: Neil Featherby - Credit: Archant

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This of course was the beginning of a long term friendship and many more training runs together during the next few years.

He knew that a two ring telephone call before I hung up meant that I was leaving my house and would be at the bottom of his road within two minutes.

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We travelled all over the country taking part in some really good races for which I most certainly saw what was the start of my peak years when it came to racing.

I also put a lot of the training we did together at the time down to this.

Neil column 2806

Neil column 2806 - Credit: Archant

Sunday morning 25 milers were something else. I can remember them so well.

His lovely late mum and dad used to meet us out on the course with drinks all laid out for us on a table would you believe?

Looking at the times in his training diary, some from those training runs would have been good enough to win many a race too.

During this period I won my first ever marathon at Leicester in Sept 1984 with Kevin finishing in eighth place. This was followed up in April the following year with a 2:20 clocking for me and a 2:36 PB for him in the London Marathon.

We both continued to progress from there, but whereas my racing career faded out in my mid 30s, he just kept going and going right through his 40s, 50s, 60s and now having recently turned 70 years young, he still has plans to keep going.

Kev worked for Lotus for 47 years and was involved with the testing of their cars for which this really did make him one of those people where attention to detail really is a matter of high importance.

This is also where the keeping of his very detailed training diary comes from with details of every session going right back to when he first started running in 1982 after having been talked into taking part in the first Norfolk Marathon that year by his brother Robin.

Going through his diary further, it is also stacked out with items of race memorabilia whilst also demonstrating just how many races he has taken part in during the last 37 years with absolutely loads of age category wins.

What really stands out for me though is his 5k PB of 17:18 when in his 30s compared to his very recent 5k clocking last month at Wroxham, now aged 70, in 20:36.

For those who race 5k's regularly, they will know just how awesome this is.

Kevin, like many others, who after many years of hammering the miles out on the road decided to incorporate cycling into his training regime when in his late 50s.

Then after a conversation in 1997 with former World Duathlon Champion Nigel Arnold, he was inspired enough to have a go at the Duathlon himself and of course not being scared to try out at anything, he entered his first event.

To say he excelled at this too is an understatement and he was also presented with Olympic and World Gold Medallist Chris Boardman's Lotus 110 road bike by the man himself via Lotus.

Six World Duathlon Championships (1997 to 2002), a fifth place in the Europeans (2016), two wins in the International event in Lanzarote (2014 and 2016) and a National GB title in 2015 certainly justifies Nigel's confidence in Kevin to have a go at this discipline, that's for sure.

However, and whilst not a duathlon, but most certainly proves just how good he also is on two wheels was his Gold Standard performance ride at the L'Etape Du Tour Mont Ventoux cycling event in 2000 when finishing highly placed and 25th Brit amongst the 7,600 starters.

Kevin, or Billy as he is known amongst his former work colleagues at Lotus, really is one of the most popular guys amongst the running fraternity in Norfolk.

When I asked him about how he has managed to retain his motivation during all these years, he just said he loves keeping fit and thrives on training and competing whilst of course enjoying the camaraderie which exists amongst the sporting public.

"I love racing, but as much as anything it is just being with so many good friends and likeminded people who you get to see at events which keeps me going," he said. "However, it is also very much down to the support I have always had from my wife Susie."

Going forward he still has plenty of challenges, but at the same time he also likes to set himself little weekly personal goals too which currently means averaging 75 miles a week on the bike and 25 miles on out on the road or trails running.

By the end of this year, his training diary should show that he has completed a staggering 100, 000 training miles. Currently is stands at him having completed 43,293.25 running and 54,977.75 cycling.

All I can say is that Kevin really is one of Norfolk's best and in keeping with his name I am sure he will always be Kevin forever Youngs. I just wish he would stop calling me 'Niall'.

Kevin Youngs - Running Personal Bests

Coach Jane Clarke

5k 17:18

10k 32:56

5 miles 28:20

10 miles 54:30

Half Marathon 73:00

20 Miles 1:54:30

Marathon 2:36:28

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