Running has evolved to the point that there is an event for everyone to get involved

No runner wants to stop running but sometimes you have to give your body a rest, says Neil Featherby

No runner wants to stop running but sometimes you have to give your body a rest, says Neil Featherby. Picture: Archant - Credit: Copyright Archant Norfolk.

I recently posted on my Facebook page some details and pictures of the very first Norfolk Marathon which took place in 1982, starting at Kelling and finishing at what had to be one of the best finishes for any race at Norwich Cathedral.

Neil Featherby on his way to the first of his four victories in the Norfolk Marathon in 1986. Pictur

Neil Featherby on his way to the first of his four victories in the Norfolk Marathon in 1986. Picture: Neil Featherby - Credit: Archant

My post most certainly got a response with many people making contact with me privately about the possibility of it being resurrected.

Back in the early 1980s and on the back of the first London Marathon there was very much a running boom be it marathons or fun runs which took place all around the country.

However, the emphasis back then was very much geared to running 26.2 miles for which by the end of that decade there were nearly 200 marathons in the UK.

I am proud to say not only did I take part in many of them, but also won a few. Unfortunately after 1990, the boom seemed to have burst with a huge demise in many of these races, including Norfolk.


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Numbers were down, costs could not be met to maintain these events and the charities themselves who were very much involved also found to their cost that the outgoings were greater than the rewards coming back.

Now with all this in mind you may ask what about the current boom and could it end up going the same way?

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However, the likelihood is that this time around it won't.

There are now many more people and clubs who are very receptive to maintaining this current surge recognising that running is now much more than just a sport.

Gone are the days when running was very much geared to track and field, cross country or road racing.

Over the last few years it has become fashionable to run and take part in events which are very different to the more traditional forms of running what with new and now very popular tough mudder and other extreme type races being organised.

Lots of people take part in these events which not only encompass many miles of tough running, but also encompass many obstacles along the way.

Whilst I count myself as a traditionalist, some struggle to embrace this form of 'athletics' even suggesting that some of the standards from junior to senior level have been affected because of them which, if so, is a shame.

However, and like it or not, it is most definitely some of these newer forms of running which along with the brilliant Parkruns have brought so many more people to take up this activity by way of introducing elements of fun as well as being a great way to stay fit and meet challenges along the way. Like any business, sport has to evolve and whilst track and field at the very highest level currently seems to be going through some off track issues, how refreshing to see all these new found people of all ages shapes and sizes having a go at what is just most simply defined as running.

Whilst we continue to have the right people overseeing our sport, something tells me that the boom is likely to continue for some time to come yet at all levels be it for the club track and field athlete or indeed for those who like taking part in the more extreme forms of running.

Whilst talking a little bit about traditions and the history of our sport, I must send my best wishes to all those taking part in the annual Norfolk County Track and Field Athletics Championships this weekend.

I am pretty sure these Championships date back nearly a century!

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