Neil Featherby: Are you committed enough to run a marathon?

Tommy Hughes

Tommy Hughes knows what it takes to run a marathon as he targets sub 2:30 later this year - Credit: Tommy Hughes

How good was it to see another London Marathon again with mass participation last Sunday? 

Whilst it was somewhat different to previous marathons prior to covid restrictions in 2020, the general buzz and euphoria was as good as ever. 

Needless to say it has also now inspired many others to want to run a marathon themselves having watched the race on tv for which we have had lots of calls into Sportlink asking us for advice. 

Whilst this is great seeing so many more people wanting to now get out there and run, for any novice now thinking about it, they certainly do need to seek out as much professional advice as they can possibly get. 

It really is a case of having seen it so many times before where people just go at it far too quickly and it then all goes wrong. 


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However, and while it really is so very important to praise people for having a go, it is also important to make them realise that training for any long-distance race from almost scratch will require not only a careful approach, but a lot of commitment too. 

Failing to do this will more often than not end up with a very quick burn out and loss of that early desire or, of course, injury. 

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With that in mind, I have told those that are beginners to be patient and start with the couch to 5k programme. 

Once they have proved they can complete that then to look to push on towards completing a 10k. 

By that point, the want and even addiction to carry on will then allow for a continued gradual increase in fitness and ability to run longer distances. 

I have also suggested that they check out the local running club and group scene to see which ones cater for beginners whilst also pointing out that there really is nothing to fear when it comes to going along to a club night. 

Talking of commitment, my column this week was going to feature Norwich Road Runners Mandy Foyster who I mentioned last week after her 200-mile Combe Tunnel Ultra Race. 

Mandy Foyster

The incredible Mandy Foyster completed the 200-mile Combe Down tunnel race in Bath, Somerset. - Credit: Andy Bailey

Mandy has completed so many serious running and endurance challenges for several years now which go well beyond running a 26.2 mile marathon. 

However, after reading her very own race report on Facebook, there is no way I can do her further justice other than saying if you haven’t read her account of the race, then you really must as it is an absolutely amazing read. 

I felt like I was doing the run with her whilst hanging on to her every word. 

Another stand out and inspirational good friend of mine is Tommy Hughes who is just three months away from his 62nd birthday. 

Tommy crossed the finish line in London last Sunday in 2 hours 30 mins and 46 secs. For most 20- to 30-year-olds running a marathon in that time would be a dream come true, but Tommy as it happens is disappointed. 

He had to stop on route to go to the toilet and even clocked the time whilst off the course at 1 min and 13 seconds which of course would have seen him under the 2 hours 30 mins barrier if it had not of been for that stoppage. Hence why he is absolutely adamant that he will make history when becoming the first 60 plus year old to do so adding to the 14 World Age Best records which he currently holds. 

Hopefully in Valencia in December or Seville next February. 

Both Mandy and Tommy are exceptional in their own right and whilst they are both huge inspirations to so many people of all ages, they would both be the very first to say – yes aim high, but be patient, stay consistent and set yourself personal goals which you can tick off one by one.   

Whilst it is a huge well done to everyone who ran in London along with those who also completed the virtual marathon too, I really could not sign off this week without giving a mention to some of our stars of the future after their excellent performances in the London Mini Marathon races last Sunday where some of the UK’s brightest talent competed against each other over the final 2.6km of the marathon course. 

Whilst the races are spread across boys and girls from U13 to U17, the Eastern Regional Team finished in 6th place overall (12 regions in total) for which our local talent here in Norfolk were represented by Henry Jonas, Hattie Reynolds, Joe Machin, Connie Easter, Jude Linstead and Eva Barton. 

Selection for the Eastern Regional Squads is made up from the winners of the Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Cross Country Championships. 

A special mention also has to go to the Eastern Team Manager Rob Machin for overseeing the squads. 

Oh and one final footnote – Craig Bowen Jones as I write this column, after 4 stages of the Marathon Des Sables is currently in 32nd position and 6th in his age category. This race is regarded as the World’s toughest footrace and to make the top 100 really is special. Knowing Craig as I do, he will come on even stronger towards the end so to think that he could even make the top 25 by the 6th and final stage really is something else. 

Craig Bowen Jones MDS

Craig Bowen Jones training on Holkham Beach for the MDS. - Credit: Rock Solid Graphics


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