Neil Featherby: Dogs are a common theme in my life!

The start of Peddars Way Charity Challenge run - Karen Grapes, Craig Bowen Jones and Neil Featherby

The start of Peddars Way Charity Challenge run - Karen Grapes, Craig Bowen Jones and Neil Featherby Picture: Karen Grapes - Credit: Archant

A couple of years ago I was asked to make a film about running with my dogs by local film maker, Lee Blanchflower.

I agreed to it and then, as we all do, he carried on with his busy life, as I did with mine. However, during lockdown he came back to me again suggesting that now might be a good time to do it. For most people who know me well, not only are they fully aware of my love for everything running, but they will also know how devoted I am to my dogs and of course my love for running with them, so once Lee set a date to do the filming, it was a no-brainer.

However, during the course of the filming, Lee got to see not only how important my dogs are to me and my partner Steph, but also discovered a lot more about me as a person. I am not sure if it was down to his skill as an ex-policeman opening me up, or just down to the fact that I just happened to open up myself as you do when you work closely with people.

Either way, he used all his observations to put together a short film titled Running with Dogs, which, having been posted on Facebook has most certainly done the rounds. So much so, I have been absolutely shocked at the number of shares and comments made about it, never mind all the private messages and emails from people who have told me that they really enjoyed watching it.

Lee is certainly a perfectionist and whilst I was a little concerned, initially, how it might come across, it really does seem to have struck a chord with so many people and for various reasons.

For most people, it has demonstrated just how running is so much more than just a sport and truly is a medicine for the mind. I have run for most of my life and whilst competing against others in competition was such a thrill, even back then running was also something I had to do for escapism, be it for mind, body and soul.

By the time this column appears, I should be into day two of my charity running challenge for this year. Originally, I was hoping to run Hadrian’s Wall (for the third time) back in May to coincide with what would have been my late dog Oslo’s 15th birthday.

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Like so many other people’s plans, it never happened. Therefore, we are now running Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coastal Footpath over four days, ending on Sunday, covering approximately 33 to 35 miles each day. I have headed up the challenge “Anything for Oslo” and we are hoping to raise money for Dog Rescue, The Hallswood Animal Sanctuary – which I have been connected with for a few years now personally and through my business, Sportlink – and Nelson’s Journey, which is headed up by Simon Wright who is not only the CEO at the charity, but a very good runner himself.

Karen Grapes will be hoping to complete the long journey with me, and when I say hope, that means both of us are taking nothing for granted as it is a long way and in some respects it might even be harder trying to do it over four days than just going for it in one hit. Another good friend in Craig Bowen Jones will do the first two days with us before we then team up with lots of other friends and supporters who are also hoping to join us over the four days.

For anyone who might like to make a donation or support us, please see the link below and please be assured that even £1 will be so greatly appreciated.

Lastly, tonight will see the second round in the Joe Skipper Track Challenges with six graded races taking place. If it is anything like the first round when we held races over 3k, then it will be another success.

Most importantly, though, it really is good seeing a form of competition returning again and even though they are unofficial races and put together whilst following social distancing guidelines, the buzz everyone gets from these training/time trials really does make all the hard work which goes into trying to organise these evening track events all worthwhile.

A big thank you to Clive Poyner and Rob Machin for their support too.

To donate to “Anything for Oslo” go to