Neil Featherby: Actions will speak louder than words in Smile Mile final

Pic from last year’s Smile Mile Final – Courtesy of Baz Hipwell.

Action from last year’s Smile Mile final - Credit: Baz Hipwell

Whilst this evening’s Smile Mile final at the Sportspark in Norwich has had its critics this year with regards to the format, the one thing you can be sure of is that it will be an exciting race.

A group of 18 athletes of all ages are competing, from Conac’s U13 athlete Eli Dafforn through to Wymondham’s Christine Williams in the M65 category - who, incidentally, will be first away in this mixed men’s and ladies handicapped final.

This will certainly be a race of mixed abilities and if the handicap system based upon their semi-final times is anything to go by, then it will be a case of them all battling it out for the prize money during the latter stages of the last lap, and that will be a sight to behold.

One thing which has always been at the back of my mind, though, is wondering if any of them have been very clever about all of this, whilst watching others and weighing up the opposition so as to secure a handicap allowance while saving their very best for when it really matters. Let’s call it tactics.

St Edmunds Pacers James Peck and Great Yarmouth’s Daniel Harrison will be starting a full three minutes and 45 seconds and three minutes and 46 seconds, respectively, behind Christine as well as giving quite a bit of time away to the majority of the other finalists.

Runners prepare for one of men’s semi-finals

Runners prepare for one of men’s semi-finals - Credit: Athletics Norfolk

However, Athletics Norfolk chairman Clive Poyner thinks that those starting at the back of the field will come through during the closing stages.

"Not only do I think we have got the handicapping correct for what will be a super ending to this tournament, but we are also looking forward to a night of athletics on what should be a nice warm spring evening with an even warmer atmosphere,” he said.

Most Read

Needless to say, it is a big thank you to Clive, Rebecca Tuff and all at Athletics Norfolk, Craig and Callum Bowen Jones from Cool Camping Graphics for their sponsorship along with further support from On Running and my own business Sportlink. Any funding left over from this event will also be going out to well-deserving local charities.

Eva Barton on her way to securing her place in the Smile 2 final

Eva Barton on her way to securing her place in the Smile 2 final - Credit: Athletics Norfolk

Finally, I must just mention Bure Valley Harriers' Michael Eccles who two weeks ago - April 3 to be precise -  finished 12th (second M40) in the Manchester Marathon whilst setting a new club record of two hours 27 minutes and 18 seconds. Michael is a formidable sportsman, what with being a top class cricketeer too, but what I like best about him is his laid-back manner whereby he just gets on with it. In many ways old school where he knows that you get out what you put in. Or should I say, while there are never any guarantees, the one thing you can be sure of is, if you don’t put the workload in, then you will definitely not perform to the very best of your ability.

Good luck to everyone competing over this Easter weekend.