Neil Featherby: The man who inspired me to kickstart my running career
- Credit: Archant
Having packed up running after leaving school, aged 16, in 1974, I did still keep an eye on what was the weekly newspaper round up of local athletics and cross country.
During the next two or three years it also became noticeable that many of those who I had competed with at club and county level had also given up the sport which I put down to the distractions of life which most teenagers go through.
However, and whilst the once regular names were no longer appearing in the press reports, there were of course plenty of new names taking up the space and one in particularly by the name of Dave Mytton.
Most noticeably though was that while others of his age were concentrating on track and the shorter distances, he was already making a name for himself on the roads and even at the marathon distance which was what really attracted my attention, particularly as it had always been in the back of my mind that one day I would still get round to running one myself.
Then in 1982, after several months of training and a return to running, I did indeed run a marathon and in a time which was not too much slower than what this young athlete and indeed young police officer’s marathon PB was at the time.
This led me to joining the same athletics club as him, the Norfolk Olympiads for which I will never forget the first time I saw him circling the old cinder track at Lakenham all on his own doing 200 metre reps.
I said hello to him as he walked by having completed his session and whilst he looked at me as if to say “do I know you?” he did at least nod.
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After finishing in seventh place in what was the very first Norfolk Marathon a couple of months later and just four places behind Dave who finished third, I just happened to mention to one of the road runners at the club that one day I would love to beat him in a marathon. However, this was purely meant out of 100 percent respect.
Needless to say, my club mate told him and of course it got a little twisted in translation.
Then later that year we both lined up in what was the Evening News Centenary Marathon and ran side by side mile after mile until the latter stages where I did move ahead of him finishing third to his fourth place. I was made up particularly with it being my first year of competitive running again.
He was great about it and I really did feel humble as I shook his hand after he crossed the finish line. We even won the team award which he told me to keep.
During the next few years, we along with so many other great friends from that period ran in many more races together along with hundreds of training runs which were not only competitive, but always hilarious too.
Dave really is a standout character and I do not think there was one single run or occasion where he didn’t do or say something hilarious.
He is also the person who brought fancy dress to my Boxing Day Run for which everyone who has taken part over the years will know that it is the fancy dress element which makes the event what it is.
For me to fully write about this man and great friend, I would need every page of the EDP to get it all in.
However, and just to give those who don’t know him a brief idea of his running ability, he has a an excellent range of PBs such as a 30:40 10k, 50:13 10 miles and of course a top class marathon time of 2:32.
What really stands out for me though was when watching him win the Norfolk County 5,000 metres championships at Lakenham after a tremendous sprint finish from 200 metres out when up against and catching out some of the county’s top speed merchants of that era in 14:58.
How ironic I thought to myself thinking back to the first time I saw him when he was doing those 200 metre reps on the same track just a few years earlier?
Oh and just to mention one of his other many talents, he is also a brilliant writer for which he used to write hysterical monthly blogs going back well before when blogging became popular.
Anyway, and where am I going with this? Well last year Dave, was so very sadly diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Needless to say it was a huge shock to everyone who knows him, be it in the running world, his work colleagues and of course for all his family.
In true family Mytton tradition, this has now inspired his youngest son Eric, to become an excellent runner himself whilst also planning to run the scenic and beautiful 96 miles of the West Highland Way over four days in 2021, with his best friend Dom Kelly to fund raise for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, and at the same time for the MS Trust in honour of his mum Julie, who suffers with this horrible condition.
Dave Mytton, a legend in the police force, a legend in Norfolk running circles and a legend of a man whilst of course also mentioning his wife Julie, who just like her husband, is an awesome character i.e. always laughing, joking and staying positive whatever life throws at them.
For anyone who would like to sponsor or know more about Eric and Dom’s efforts, please see the link below and needless to say I will be writing more about this super challenge nearer the time.