Neil Featherby: Are we about to see the fastest mile ever run in Norfolk?

Tyler Bilyard Sportlink semi-finals

Tyler Bilyard leads from the front at last week's semi-finals. - Credit: Baz Hipwell

Are we about to see the fastest mile race ever ran in Norfolk? 

After what has been several months of waiting, we will now at last see the final of the Sportlink SMile event in association with Cool Camper Graphics and On. 

I am sure this has to be an event which is unique to Norfolk with the initial challenge being open to all. More than 200 people took part in a virtual one mile run whilst recording their times before submitting them to Athletics Norfolk whereby the fastest 16 men and 16 women were invited to race in two ladies’ and two men's quarter finals on the track at the Sportspark in Norwich. 

Iona Lake Sportlink SMile

Iona Lake won last week's ladies' Sportlink SMile semi-final. - Credit: Baz Hipwell

Initially this was meant to take place back in the Autumn as part of Sportlink's 26th birthday celebrations. However, due to lockdown in November, everything was put on hold until two weeks ago when the first four from each quarter final race went through to last Friday night's semi-finals, leading on to tonight's grand-final. 

I have every faith that the wait will be well worth it and of course here is the spicy bit. Not only will we see the first five men and women from their respective semi-finals lining up together in a mixed race, the ladies will also be given a 30-second head start.  

Needless to say, it does not end there either as the race will also include what is known as a Devil takes the Hindmost competition when the last man and lady to cross the line after the first two laps will be eliminated, which will be replicated after three laps, leaving three men and three ladies to battle it out during what will be the last 400 metres. 

Sportlink SMile semi-final men's

Action from last week's men's Sportlink SMile semi-final. - Credit: Baz Hipwell

Whilst this race will require some track tactics and awareness to not be too heavily lactated up (the point where the body cannot break the lactate/lactic acid down) before that final effort, it really will come down to the men doing their very best to haul in the leading ladies before it is too late. With £500 going to the winner, then we really are in for one heck of an exciting race. 

Most Read

Thanks to the Drayton-based graphics firm CoolCamper Graphics who have donated £1,000 sponsorship towards this event. The prize money will go down to those last six athletes but to make sure that no one goes away empty handed, the running shoe company On will also be giving a pair of their top training shoes to all of the 10 finalists for which everyone really is a winner. 

Ladies Sportlink SMile semi-final

Iona Lake leads from the front in the ladies Sportlink SMile semi-final - Credit: Baz Hipwell

Clive Poyner, chair Athletics Norfolk, said: “What an evening this is going to be when we will almost certainly have one of the fastest ever mile races run within the county borders. This race will certainly set the scene and provide some great atmosphere to what will be a super night of athletics."