Neil Featherby: Stay safe, stay positive and keep setting goals

Usually it’s no problem whatsoever but all of a sudden there is now only one subject which has completely taken over our whole lives irrespective of our pastimes, working life and of course our personal lives too.

Just a few weeks ago so many people had plans to not only run in April marathons, but also had so many other plans for the rest of the year too. That is how we run our lives so when something so very quickly pulls the rug from under our feet such as this has, the shock of it all can just leave you standing there pinching yourself trying to work out if it really is happening.

However, and whilst we are now completely surrounded by what is the coronavirus, where all of a sudden it seems like there is nothing else happening in the world to talk about, let’s at least try and talk running if just for the time it takes to read the rest of this column.

Neil Featherby out on a training run around Felthorpe Woods. Picture: Neil Featherby

Lots of people have asked me as to what I advise with regards to trying to stay motivated with their running particularly now there are no races? Well for those who I coach be it someone like Callum Bowen Jones who I was convinced was going to have a super season to that of a couple of ladies who I also advise and just wanted to get round the London Marathon, I am still planning their training to meet certain specific targets as if they were still racing (not a full marathon I hasten to add), albeit whilst trying to also fit in with the government guidelines about daily exercise.

Whilst the actual thrill or indeed in Cal’s case an official PB may not be registered, at this moment in time this is as good as it get. By still preparing to meet our designated goals by way of performing solo time trials, it not only shows where we are at with the training, but also keeps us on track by way of confirmed benchmarks whilst still adding that extra little bit of race like pressure and motivation to keep focused knowing there are tests to be undertaken at given points.

Certainly in his case it does to the point where we even go through the same pre-race talk and strategy.

Obviously if a complete lockdown comes in to place then it will change things, but Callum has a treadmill and has taken to creating further motivation if when occasionally using his machine by doing what I do and that is to watch some of the great races of the past set up on his laptop screen in front of him.

People have said to me that running on a treadmill is boring. Try racing Roger Bannister whilst watching the old black and white footage of his world record sub 4 min mile in 1954 whilst seeing how close you can get to running a mile yourself before he finishes. We all have to adapt at times and none more so than just right now, so it’s all about thinking of ways to add that little bit of extra spice and fun to it all.

Whilst lots of people take up the challenge of running or gentle jogging as part of a New Year’s resolution, this is also now perhaps a good chance for others to start. It really is a fantastic way to not only keep our bodies healthy, but our minds too.

Providing you are medically fit, it is never too late to start and as for pace, that doesn’t come into it. It is simply all about just putting one leg in front of the other and all in your own time.

My current early morning runs with my dogs are without a doubt my favourite time of the day just right now.

Running through the trails and woodland near to where I live whilst watching the sun come up through the trees and listening to the sounds of the wildlife is awesome. Apart from two other people who I see out doing the same thing each morning, the solitude and chance just to remove myself from what is going on for 45 minutes or so, really is something which for me is invaluable.

A friend said to me the other day, it is like someone has pushed a stop button and then pushed re-set. It certainly does feel a bit like that, so my advice to everyone out there who can get out into the fresh air for their daily exercise is to set yourself a little weekly goal and enjoy a few moments of just switching off whilst switching on and focusing your mind towards your own little challenge.

You certainly don’t have to be an elite athlete to do that. Stay safe everyone and stay positive too….

Neil Feartherby's Friday EDP Feature


Whilst we have taken the decision at Sportlink to close our doors to the public for everyone’s sake, we will still use Royal Mail to send out any products required in the mean-time.

With regards to any products which people may desperately require and live within a 20 mile radius, then no need to panic as we will deliver to your doorstep. However, we will also call you to make sure you are there before we leave any product. Needless to say if a lockdown does come in to force then this will not be possible.

Our phone lines will be open for orders 10am - 5pm hours each day. 01603 868606.

Orders taken before 2pm are eligible for our same day home delivery service or alternatively mailed out via Royal Mail.

Orders taken after 2pm will go out the following day.

Payment will be taken over the phone at time of order.

Our running is so very special and important to all of us be it for the health of our bodies and of course that of our minds too. Just right now, I am absolutely loving my very early morning runs in the local woods near to my house in the beautiful cool, but fresh air as the sun comes up whilst hearing the sounds of all the birds and other animals which lives in these woods. Whilst it is somewhat surreal, it is almost meditative as well and most certainly clears my head before getting on with the rest of my day.

We can all do this, so let’s get on with it and let’s all try to be the best we can now possibly be when it comes to not only looking after ourselves and our loved ones, but everyone else out there, especially all those people who are most vulnerable.

In the mean-time, please do follow all the government guidelines and take this extremely serious as the sooner we can get on top of this, the sooner we can all get back to normal again.

Stay safe and collectively we can be awesome….

Neil F.


We are always available for a chat or of course if anyone needs to contact me direct, then my mobile is always on and of course I am contactable via facebook messenger or e mail.


We love socks.The most important piece of equipment you'll buy after your shoes! We've created a handy dictionary of our favorite's which are available here at Sportlink.

Balega Ultralight

Cost - £13.00
Thickness 2/5
Balega’s Ultralight No Show running socks combine ultrafine hi-tech performance yarns with protection-based design to create the sheerest, lightest performance no show running sock.

  • Ensures perfect fit with low volume construction, complete with reinforced microfiber toe and heel along with a unique Triple-Y heel design that creates a more formed, extra-deep heel pocket
  • Keeps feet cool and dry with Balega’s proprietary Drynamix® moisture wicking fibers, plus specially constructed, reinforced microfiber mesh ventilation panels
  • Maximizes comfort with hand-linked, seamless, reinforced toe, sensitive rib top, and high heel tab that helps prevent the sock from slipping into your shoe


Balega Hidden comfort

Cost - £13.00
Thickness – 3/5
The Balega Hidden Comfort No Show Socks offer supremely comfortable cushion and performance mile after mile. Delivering the ultimate protection and impact resistance, Hidden Comfort No Show Socks are composed of extra-fine yarn to provide plush protective cushion without adding bulk.

  • Delivers ultimate protection and impact resistance with a plush, dense cushioned running sock design and a 200 needle-count fabric.
  • Keeps feet cool and dry with Balega’s proprietary Drynamix® moisture wicking fibers, plus specially constructed, reinforced microfiber mesh ventilation panels.
  • Maximizes comfort with hand-linked, seamless, reinforced toe and high heel tab that helps prevent the sock from slipping into your shoe.
  • Enhanced elastane provides additional no-slip security.
  • Extra-deep heel pocket ensures the perfect fit.


Balega Enduro Low Cut/ No Show

Cost - £13.00
Thickness – 4/5
Balega’s Enduro Low Cut running socks perfectly mold around the contours of your foot, lock in the heel and midfoot, leave your toes room to move, and help prevent heel blistering.

  • Provides structured running sock fit that perfectly matches the contours of your foot with our signature V-Tech Arch Support System.
  • Keeps feet cool and dry with Balega’s proprietary Drynamix ® moisture wicking fibers, plus specially constructed, reinforced microfiber mesh ventilation panels.
  • Delivers impact resistance with optimal cushioned running sock design.
  • Leverages medium volume running sock construction.
  • Maximizes comfort with hand-linked seamless toe.
  • Ensures perfect fit with reinforced, extra-deep heel pocket.


Hilly Lite

Cost - £10.00
Thickness – 1/5

Ideal for warmer weather training and lightweight racing days.

  • LYCRA® SPORT content for a comfy secure, smooth fit
  • Tactel® – super soft and smooth
  • Redesigned to give an improved fit
  • Zero level cushioning
  • Two sided knit for moisture transfer
  • Quick drying & Durable
  • Hand linked flat toe seam


Hilly Lite comfort

Cost - £12.00
Thickness – 3/5

Perfect road running cushioning, in a lightweight construction.

  • Mid-level cushioning
  • Vented upper and arch grip
  • Flat under toe seam construction
  • Durable polyamide heel and toe
  • Soft polyester main body
  • Comfort tabs at the front and back


Hilly Marathon fresh

Cost - £13.00
Thickness – 3/5

Stay fresh and odour free. Superb running sock for all distances – from 5k to marathon.

  • Polygiene – permanent odour control
  • Mid-level anatomical cushioning in key pressure zones for optimum comfort
  • Upper foot venting
  • Flat under toe seam construction


Hilly Twin skin

Cost - £14.00
Thickness - 4/5
The ultimate anti-blister double-layer sock.

  • Double-layer construction prevent friction on the foot
  • Lightweight and fine Meryl Sport inner effectively transfers moisture to the outer 
  • DriRelease cotton outer layer ensures superb drying rate
  • Durable heel & toe box yarns
  • Vented upper and outer
  • Inner sock arch grip


Hilly Toe socks

Cost - £12.00
Thickness – 2/5
Allow your toes to spread in comfort as they naturally do.

  • Zero cushioning
  • Technical CoolmaxFX for softness combined with durability
  • Vented upper and arch grip
  • Cushioned cuff
  • Comfort tab to the back
  • Y heel


Hilly Tempo

Cost - £15.00 (2 pack)
Thickness – 2/5
Great value lightly cushioned pair of socks.

  • Minimum level cushioning
  • Vented upper and arch grip
  • Flat under toe seam construction
  • Durable polyamide heel and toe
  • Soft polyester main body


Hilly Supreme

Cost - £13.00
Thickness – 4/5
Super soft and comfortable technical running sock

  • DriRelease® Wool – super soft, high wicking, anti-microbial
  • NanoGlide® – in heel and toe– soft and friction free prevents blisters
  • Mid-level anatomical cushioning in key pressure zones for optimum confort
  • Anti-Odour - Anti-microbial & high wicking properties from DriRelease wool
  • Flat under toe seam construction
  • Vented upper and arch grip


ON Running Low sock/ Mid Sock

Cost - £16.00/ £18.00
Thickness – 2/5
Help you to run on clouds while looking and feeling good.

  • Merging ultralight minimalist design with anatomical shaping for gentle support, it’s the ideal choice for warm days or race day. Or whenever you want understated comfort.
  • On Performance Socks combine a polyamide and elastane blend with technical mesh paneling. The mesh sections help keep foot temperature in perfect balance.
  • The pattern at the arch triggers sensory receptors to prime your feet for the run.
  • Swiss Engineering to then keep the sock firmly in place. For performance standards that don't slip.


CEP Run 3.0 compression socks

Cost - £45.00
Thickness – 3/5
Your go to compression sock for easy runs, workouts and races.

  • Long men’s running socks with compression. 
  • No blisters! Thanks to the close fit and proven blend of materials. 
  • Optimised supply of valuable nutrients provide light legs and feel good effect. 
  • Active recovery during exercise ensured by accelerated removal of metabolic waste. 
  • Asymmetrical toe box for the best anatomical fit.


CEP Nighttech compression socks

Cost - £40.00
Thickness – 3/5
Reflective elements combined with compression for those early morning and night time runs.

  • 360° reflectors increase your visibility at night for safer runs. 
  • The proven medi compression activates your muscles and improves the supply of valuable nutrients – for light legs with a feel-good effect. 
  • You enjoy an awesome running experience thanks to the close-fitting foot section and proven blend of materials – with greater stability and blister prevention.


Sealskinz Waterproof Warm Weather Ankle Length Sock

Cost - £25.00
Thickness 5/5
Keeps your feet dry whatever the weather.

  • Waterproof - three layer construction for warmth, durability and waterproofing
  • Foot Comfort - Bamboo lining for moisture control, insulation and comfort
  • Support - zonal elastication for added support
  • Close fit - four way stretch for comfort and stretch fit
  • Toe Comfort - flat toe seams prevent rubbing

Our sock dictionary has been collated  by Chris Mickleburgh - Sportlink


SPORTLINK 5k Mad March Age Graded Championship????

Whilst there may be no races which includes the Sportlink GP Series or Park Runs to look forward to during the next few weeks, let’s do whatever we can to keep our spirits high and if that means setting ourselves new challenges for the time being then so be it and let’s do it.
Therefore why not take part in our Sportlink 5k Mad March Age Graded Championship. Run wherever and whenever you want be it on a treadmill or early in the morning whilst everyone is still asleep. Just send proof of your 5K time and age to be included in the Championship.
We will use these to age grade times and the male and female with the best age grading wins an On pack and goodies.
Just send in Strava, Garmin, Polar etc proof as well as your name and age to
The 5k Mad March Age Graded Championship starts right now until the end of March.
Stay safe, fit and healthy…..and keep on running.
#sportlinkrunningfamily #runsafe #keepstrong #togetherwecanbeatthis

A Special Message from Neil Featherby and the Sportlink Team…


Whilst we are all currently going through what has to be the most surreal time in all our lives, the most important thing is that we really do look after each other just right now.

The fear of the unknown is one thing i.e. how long will this last and what will be at the end of it all, but whilst we are living the moment, it really is so very important that we not only stay fit and healthy for our physical well-being, but just as importantly for our mental wellbeing too.

While I was out running this morning with two of my huskies through the eerily quiet streets and around the wooded area of my village, as I made my way home deep in thought along one of the very narrow lanes, there was a large car coming towards me. It stopped to let me and my dogs past and just as I got in eyeshot, I could see this lady with a huge smile on her face. I waved and shouted out, “brilliant keep smiling whatever you do.”  As I was then heading up the lane,  she had opened her window so as to shout back “I most certainly will.” Just a little thing like that all adds to brightening up our day. Running for me and so many others as indeed so do many other forms of exercise, really do help us to stay on top of any adversity which we may have to face up to during the course of a day.

During the last 24 hours, I have also received several messages from various race directors and club chairman with regards to the races which their clubs have planned for this year asking me that if they have to cancel their events or revert back to a later date, will we are Sportlink still support them going forward.

My answer to that is yes of course we will, that they can be assured of. Support for each other is now more paramount than ever and as I have always said, Sportlink and it’s fantastic team of personnel have always been much, much, more than just a retail outlet.

We are still very much open and here along with a big smile on our faces albeit of course whilst also following all the government guidelines.

However and at the same time, if you are feeling unwell or even not sure, but need any products from us, then no need to worry about whether you should come along to see us or not as we will be more than happy to get them to you one way or the other be it via mail delivery or personal delivery to your doorstep.

In the mean-time our phones are open even if for just a chat.

Stay safe, fit and healthy…..and keep on running. A run in the countryside with plenty of fresh air particularly as we now head into the spring months is awesome…..

Oh and just one other thing, just as we all need to be here for each other, for those who know me well, you will also know that I have a huge love for my dogs and all animals for which we also do a lot of fund raising for The Hallswood Animal Sanctuary along with various other animal and people related charities. This is also a time for us to ensure that our support will also continue for them too in what is uncertain times for them as well. As always any old items of footwear or clothing for our charity rail will be very much appreciated too.


Keep smiling all you brilliant people….


Neil Featherby.


Sportlink TV with the one and only Paul Evans. 2:08 marathoner, two time Olympic 10,000 metre finalist, London Marathon 3rd placer, New York Marathon Runner Up and Chicago Marathon winner, plus so much more.
Paul’s interview with Mark Armstrong was so good, we have had to break it down into two parts. This first part features Paul talking about how he went from being a local footballer to actually taking part in his first ever race which of course was very soon followed by an amazing journey which led to him becoming a professional World Class athlete.
This podcast really does have everything including a lot of emotion as Paul also relives what was The Great Race from Glasgow to London in 1990, where he not only excelled as the UK’s leading athlete, but the drama which also unfolded during the race which led to him supposedly losing his job at the shoe factory where he was employed at the time.
Sit back and enjoy the next 23 mins and 59 secs…

Neil Featherby: Ron Bentley – Old school heroics from a great and humble man

Ron Bentley celebrates running 161 miles in 24 hours Picture: Wolverhampton Express & Star

Earlier this week I posted on Facebook an old ITV film clip from 1974 featuring Tipton Harriers' Ron Bentley, who had just set a world record (on November 3/4) for running over 161 miles in 24 hours.

Whilst this amazing feat brought him attention beyond the usual running circles, it was more out of fascination.

However, not only was Bentley an awesome ultra runner, he was pretty special at all distances and was one of many top guys who hailed from the UK at the time.

The four-minute clip showed how he fitted his 24 miles a day training into his working and daily life. The interviewer's questions suggested a bit of 'is this for real?', but Ron took it all in his stride with matter of fact, but very modest, answers.

'What's a great runner like you doing in a workplace like this as it seems a hard way to make a living?' the interviewer asked.

'No, not really, I'm used to it,' Ron replied, summing up the attitude he and lots of others had back then, making no big deal of what many others would see as a great achievement.

Needless to say, my post received several likes and responses, especially from the older runners, with many of them suggesting back then it really was just about working hard, getting your head down and getting on with it. And this was long before today's technology existed.

Having a bit of an old school mentality myself, I agree, but one of my responses to a particular comment was that if today's technology had existed back then, would the likes of Ron Bentley have taken advantage of it? Personally, I think he would have.

However, mindsets were most certainly different all those years ago, but they would be; it was a completely different era. Things were not so easily accessible for one.

If you wanted something, the likelihood is that you would have had to wait weeks and months to save up for it before getting it. A bit like training for a marathon, ie, putting the money and miles in the bank first.

Running publications were few and far between and certainly did not have the same amount of glossy adverts and marketing which all of today's mags have.

As for footwear, back in 1974, the shoes worn in the film clip are a pair of old Tiger Marathons, which were nothing more than a canvas upper with a hard rubber sole. With regards to cushioning, well what was that.

In the film, they show an example of the food he ate during his world record run too, which was pretty amazing, containing gallons of glucose drink along with dry glucose, jars of honey, tins of soup and fruit, several chocolate bars and much more - yet he still lost 14lb in weight.

It was all high energy food and any good ultra marathon runner of today such as our own Mandy Foyster and Carmine De Grandis will tell you that this diet will still very much work during long distance races irrespective of having more sophisticated products on the market; all carefully packaged up ensuring that our nutritional requirements are readily available through sports supplementation.

Whilst I would use many of today's available supplements for such long distance runs, at the end of the day I would still be more than happy with what is real food, particularly when at a low point, along with a nice cup of tea to pick me up.

In a nutshell, if you fancy it, then eat it.

At the end of the day, whether it be a runner with the mindset of those hard guys of the past or indeed one of today's more techno athletes, the one thing you can be sure of is that when it comes down to old school versus modern day methods, there are no short cuts. Hard work and applied structure towards training will always be a case of 'you are only going to get out what you are prepared to physically put into it'.

The interviewer asked why he did it when there was no financial gain. With a shrug of the shoulders, Ron replied: 'I do it for the glory and the pride.' Perfect answer!

Ron Bentley passed away last year aged 88, but I like to think that we can still learn so much from this great and humble man.

Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature










With COVID-19 developing in so many countries around the world, our commitment is to adhere to the strictest of W.H.O and Government advice, and the protocols advised by local and international authorities.

The well-being of our customers, our suppliers and our staff is our absolute priority, and you can be assured that health and safety is of the utmost importance to our company.

All of our employees have been briefed of the current requirements and are undertaking high levels of health and safety procedures to ensure that the highest possible standards are maintained.

We will of course be following developments on a daily basis.

If you have any further questions, please contact us.

You can call 01603 868606 or email

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued business and loyalty.


Neil Featherby and the Sportlink team.


Reviewed by Kathryn Hammond

Wow! The moment I slipped the New Balance 880 version 10, on my foot, I was immediately struck by the superb fit and extreme comfort of this tried and tested, stable neutral shoe. Lightweight, ultra-cushioned, yet responsive, it is ideal for all distances from 5k to marathon and beyond.

The 880 carries a 10mm drop, and the signature New Balance Fresh Foam midsole delivers serious softness to every step and blown rubber outsole, for a superior rebound. All this combined with a Hypoknit mesh upper, offering stretch and support where you need it most and a moulded heel counter to control heel movement. It really is an excellent shoe that I believe will appeal to runners of all abilities.

With a retail price of £120, it is competitive with other shoes on the market in a comparable bracket. Having run in it a few times now, it is something that I will continue to use as my shoe for steady runs due to the comfort it gives but how also when I do want to pick up the pace the shoe brilliantly gives responsive rebound from the blown rubber outsole, without compromising that soft feel – something that is hard to do with a top running shoe.

Neil Featherby: The modest superstar of yesteryear that’s been bitten by the running bug again

Dave Goodwin battling it out for first place in a 100km road race in France where he eventually took the runner up prize. Picture: Dave Goodwin

"Now I am as nutty as before and once again need a daily injection of running to keep me sane."

Dave Goodwin on the way to a second place finish in the Nottingham 6 Day Race in 1982 where he covered a distance of 515 miles. Picture: Dave Goodwin

I have spent my life being in awe of sportspeople which goes right back to my early childhood when it was speedway riders who I wanted to emulate, then footballers and of course athletes and top runners.

Whilst I have also had a fair bit of involvement in boxing, as one well known local boxing coach said to me a number of times, when it came to that sport I would only be good for about 30 seconds, although I think he was probably being a little generous too. However, long distance running was the opposite for which I spent hours and hours out on the road in training so as to be the quickest I could possibly be over all distances up to the marathon with a number of ultra-marathons thrown in for good measure too.

During the 1980s though, when I was still an up-and-coming half decent local runner, one man who really did stand out for me was Thetford AC's Dave Goodwin. A runner who was fast over anything from 10k through to 100 miles.

He never ever seemed to make a fuss or big deal of it either and was always so very cool about the prospect of racing for what might have been 30 minutes right up to what was a six-day race where he completed 515 miles going round and round a 400 metre running track.

However, and just as I hit my peak, this man who I had always looked up to, seemed to disappear off the scene and despite his name being brought up several times in conversation during the following years, I really was never too sure what had happened to him.

Then last year, I walked into Sportlink only for the staff to tell me about a guy called Dave Goodwin who had been in for shoes. My immediate reaction was one of being really disappointed that I had missed him and went on to tell the staff about what an awesome athlete he was and how good it was to know that he is still running.

"He just came in, tried on one pair of shoes and literally said they will do and was gone again," said my son Craig who had served him. That did make me laugh as it really was so typical of the Dave Goodwin I had known from the past.

Anyway and a few months on, I have now met up with Dave and chatted to him several times for which I cannot think of anyone better to write about this week.

It was as an 11-year-old boy when on holiday in the country when he saw a sign which said "London 26 miles" which kindled his thoughts and imagination of one day running a marathon. Nevertheless, it was football which was the sport of his choice and which he played right into his late twenties until when realising that his footballing days were coming to an end for which his mind went back to that day as an 11-year-old where the thoughts of first running a marathon had entered his head.

Living in Garboldisham on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, he joined Thetford AC and was further encouraged when club coach and former middle distance runner Bill McKim who had competed in a Commonwealth Games told Dave that he was a talented and natural runner. Despite what was considered back then as being past your peak once you had reached 30 years of age, these words really did encourage him to train hard to see just what he could achieve.

"My running career was quite short really spanning from 1978 to 1987," he said. "But I did pack a lot into what was nearly a decade of running."

That he certainly did, with 29 marathons in total (best of 2hrs 31mins), 18 ultra-distance races which included a 100 miler (14 hrs 07mins and 42secs), a 24-hour race (155 miles) and a six-day track race (515 miles), but his special and most fondest memories are when having finished in 10th position in what really was the old classic London to Brighton 52.5 mile road race in 5hrs 58mins. "That was slow by comparison to the former Commonwealth Marathon Gold Medallist Ian Thompson's winning time of 5hrs 15mins," he so modestly said.

Anyone who remembers this famous old road race will know that finishing in the top 10 in under six hours on what really was a tough course is one heck of an achievement, but those comments are so typically Dave, a man who never has been one to blow his own trumpet whilst always preferring to turn the attention and praise on to others.

Another favourite race and memory of his and once again for those who remember what was another one of the ultra-classics, is when racing in the Isle of Man 40 mile road race which basically followed what is the motor cycling TT circuit around the island.

Starting out really carefully knowing that there was a climb of 2,000 feet from sea level up to Snaefell after passing the 25 mile point, he not only picked off several runners on the way up, but also on the descent into Douglas and the finish and despite making a valiant effort to catch the second-placed runner who he was rapidly closing in on, he finished in what was still a superb third place.

Unfortunately though, it was eventually time constraints which started to affect his carefully planned out running schedule and as I have always said, trying to fit your life into your running as opposed to the other way around will eventually take its toll if you can't get the balance right or as Dave puts it: "The problem with trying to train in excess of 70 miles a week on a regular basis is that you need an understanding family and a job which enables a regular training routine to be undertaken. I was quite lucky over those years as my working hours were flexible and I could train at lunchtimes and after work at the company's sports centre, but when family life started to involve the commitment of bringing up young children, that was the point when I decided to plough all my energies into family life albeit at the expense of my running. Nevertheless, I did always have in the back of my mind that one day I would start again."

Start again he did, but what he didn't realise at the time was that it would not be for another 26 years. After retiring from work and still having the desire to lace up a pair of running shoes again, despite being much heavier than he was back in his old racing days, he once again very carefully adopted another regular training routine into his life again.

"Being two stone heavier than I was back in my racing days, I knew it was going to be a struggle to compete as seriously as I did before," he said, but as the weight came off, he found his fitness levels returning allowing him to become faster and competitive within his age group.

"Now I am as nutty as before and once again need a daily injection of running to keep me sane," he added. "I will never be as fast as before and I realise as the years go by I will in fact become slower, but this drug called running is certainly as addictive as it used to be."

Dave still has his training diaries of all the training and races which he would religiously record during let's call it his first running career, for which he has details of 223 races competed in.

Apart from the awesome PBs already mentioned in this column, he really does have a huge range of super personal best times, boasting (although he never does), a 32:46 -10k, a half marathon in 73:02, 20 miles in 1:54:31 and 100k in 7:23:53. However and ironically, despite competing in so many races, he only took part in one 5k race which was held on the old cinder track in Great Yarmouth where he finished in a very creditable time of 16:41.

As far as I am concerned he really is another Norfolk running legend and whilst I am sure that there are plenty of people who are part of today's local running scene who are aware of him if just by his enthusiasm and friendly chatter whilst of course not forgetting his successes in his current age category, I will hazard a guess that most of them don't know anything about this very modest man's running past.

They don't make too many like Dave Goodwin anymore, but they didn't back then either.

Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature

Neil Featherby: A few home truths when it comes to marathon training, according to veteran runner

Pete Duhig in action. Picture: Pete Duhig

One of the things I like best about these weekly columns is when I know I have caused a reaction which creates further constructive and sensible debate.

Therefore, how pleasing was it for me to receive a very long email from former Norfolk top runner Peter Duhig this week letting me know what his thoughts are towards some of my recent columns and today's running scene.

Pete now lives in Spain where he and his wife Cath, are very prominent in local athletics and on a much bigger scale, Masters Athletics.

It was after watching the first London Marathon in 1981, which fired his imagination up when it came to putting on a pair of trainers and getting out on to the roads with thoughts of running a marathon himself.

This of course he did and by the end of 1982 the running bug had most certainly bitten him for which he had already completed four marathons by this stage.

However and being the competitive person which he has always been, he wanted to be much better and was frustrated that as hard as he tried he was still some way off the guys at the front of the race field which led to him reading up and finding out as much information as he could as to what was deemed to be the best way to train for distance events back then.

"Hard work and high mileage was the order of the day with no short cuts and no one could expect to be a decent runner until they were doing at least 40 to 50 miles a week," he said before going on to further say that "it amazes me how many runners nowadays try to get by on just 20 to 30 miles a week and then try to run marathons.

"Their weekly mileage is not much more than the marathon distance itself and it doesn't take too much intelligence to realise that. If you want to run marathons then you need to run miles, but and whilst mileage is all very well, if you want to run more quickly then you also need to add large doses of fast running to your training programme through speed work, intervals, reps or whatever else you want to call it."

I first met Pete at one of the local races, but had always been aware of him due to noticing him in the results of the first Wolverhampton marathon in 1982 which I had ran in. Why did I notice him? Well just because he was the only other person I could see from Norfolk.

With all due respect he was just a very average runner, but by the mid 1980s, I was now starting to notice him much more as it was becoming quite clear that he was improving by a considerable margin. At the time I was doing pretty well locally and had broken 2:20 for the marathon for which he also approached me about sponsorship through the sportswear company which he had at the time.

However, it was more than obvious that he wanted to be right up there at the front too and it was also obvious he had a huge intent to be the best he could be.

He really was a man on a mission where he continued to further educate himself with regards to the principles of training, seeking out top quality coaching and even tailoring his working life to fit in with his running. "That's what it takes, if you want to be good," he would say. "A commitment towards your goals that goes beyond what is known as normal."

Whilst by his own admission he never hit the high spots of international running as a senior athlete, he did indeed win many races boasting times of 2:25:04 for the marathon along with a 49 minute 10 miler as well as several sub 25 minute 5 milers.

I would love to write much more about his career after entering the masters ranks where he most certainly did win races at international level as well as still producing PBs on the track and road, but this column is more about his thoughts towards modern day running and training methods.

"Why am I blowing my own trumpet?" his email went further on to say. "Well because I don't see the same work ethic coming through from enough people any more. The times are still very good at the front of the races, but they are few and far between. To run 59 mins for 10 miles was considered okay years ago, but not anything to write home about. It is the same thing with breaking 40 mins for 10k. Such average times are now much more heralded," he said.

There is no doubt that Pete is so very passionate about his running and whilst it sounds like he might be criticising runners of today, I will defend him and say he is not. It is this passion of his where he just wants to see everyone being the best they can be. Pete has always been like this and in everything he does. You only have to read his autobiography to realise this.

He does however, criticise commercialism in sport these days though.

"The propensity for commercialism in sport has boomed during the last 35 years where shoe and clothing manufacturers along with energy drinks and supplements companies have jumped on the fitness bandwagon and brainwashed everyone into thinking that running is easy if you wear these shoes or consume this drink.

"The worst thing about it all is that so many people seem to believe it too and sign up to buying anything that promises to make them faster rather than just getting down to the basics of hard work. Do shoes really make you run quicker? If so do they cross the boundaries of cheating? I guess that's for the authorities to decide, but I ask you, how come people were running sub 2:10 marathons back in the 1970s and long before the availability of so called super shoes? The same goes for water. We have an automatic bodily sense of the need for fluid. It's called thirst. Whoever started the adage if you are thirsty it's too late?

"The people who want to sell you drinks of course. It's not to say they don't have a place, but after racing or training as the amount of salts one will lose in even a marathon is absolutely minimal unless in very extreme weather."

My column this week has only skimmed across the surface of what really was a very well and drafted out email about Pete's inner most thoughts towards the sport he loves for which I will be posting it on the Sportlink website for those who may want to read the contents in its entirety.

Whilst I do not necessarily agree with some of his comments and views which in some respects could also be construed as being negative towards my business Sportlink, this I do know is most certainly not his intention. At the same time anyone who knows us (Sportlink) will also know that we only sell what we endorse and we will always go out of our way to educate everyone into a full understanding of anything purchased on our premises.

I am sure there will be some who may disagree with much of what he says, but I am also sure there will be many who fully agree too.

"Commercialism has softened people up into believing they don't have to work as hard anymore providing they are prepared to make a financial commitment towards whatever it is being offered," he added. "However, I know who I think are the biggest winners when it comes down to the realities of it all and that is the manufacturers. If you really do want success, then it comes down to hard work, desire and application to the goal you have set yourself. So with that in mind, keep your money in your pocket and enjoy the warm glow of satisfaction when you do hopefully reap the rewards from all your efforts and desire to be the best you can be."

Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature

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Neil Featherby: The rise of Dereham AC runner Callum Bowen Jones

Callum Bowen Jones competes in the Armagh 5K International Road Race on Thursday evening. Picture: Neil Featherby

I have always been fascinated by pressure and how it effects people in differing ways and what is sure is that we all have to deal with it in our lives at one time or another.

However, when it comes to pressure in sport, that is something else. There are those who just shrug their shoulders and take it all in their stride whilst I have seen others crumble.

If I am honest, whilst I loved the pressure of racing when I knew I was in control (comfort zone), as time went by where I was then lucky enough to be given opportunities to race against those who I knew were far superior, I wasn't always the best when it came to dealing with nerves and I did tend to focus a little too much on what I considered to be expectations from others. This also went back to my school days which was one of the reasons why I gave up aged just 16 before returning again in my 20s.

During the last 18 months I have been working with and coaching a young Dereham runner by the name of Callum Bowen Jones. Initially he was very nervous and whilst he told me that he really wanted to be the very best he could be and was 100 percent committed to a long term running career, I just said to his dad Craig, who I also coach that we should just see how it goes and at that stage just focus on the immediate future for the time being i.e. one week, followed by one month at a time.

The first couple of months were okay and we set a goal for the 2019, Norfolk U20s Cross Country Championships where I said the top four has to be our aim. Fourth he was, but whilst then focusing on his training for the inter counties x/c champs, he turned his ankle and that was it for the next few weeks. He got very frustrated and so did I for a bit particularly as he kept saying he was okay and then breaking down again. Chas Allen was treating him and telling him some straight facts, but as with all keen youngsters they just want to get going again.

Needless to say that sense did eventually prevail and he recovered fully. Whilst his first full on session upon return went okay, I still had to put him in his place as all he kept doing was complaining whilst saying he was rubbish in front of all the others at a Ghost Hill Runners training night, despite being well ahead of everyone else during what was a set of variable paced intervals and repetitions.

I think it was after the third set when I looked at him (in front of the others) and said "yes you are quite correct Callum, you are rubbish, now do you want to get on with the session or go home?"

We have not looked back since and the improvement during the summer with his racing and training continued to be very gradual. Then he went away with his dad armed with what really was a full on training programme from me to Pete Duhig's place in Spain where all he did was train, eat and sleep.

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

Since returning he has gone up another two levels with us seeing some pretty dramatic improvements as each week has gone by.

So much so that Callum will be making his debut when it comes to going into a real Lion's Den when he lines up in the Armagh International 5k Road Race on Thursday evening.

Last year City of Norwich athlete Logan Smith competed in this race with distinction and if Cal can get anywhere near to Logan's finishing time and position, we will be made up. During the last few months, Callum has won both the Eastern and Norfolk U20s Cross Country titles and his training results really have been scary. However, this next race really is all about rubbing shoulders with the big boys where last year a total of 113 runners all finished inside 15 minutes.

I firmly believe that Callum is also in shape to go under 15 minutes, but if he does not then whilst we will be a little disappointed irrespective of whether he PBs (current PB 15:54) or not, we will still take plenty of positives from it, particularly as at this stage of his career the real winner will be the invaluable experience he will have gained to go forward with.

Going back to pressure. A couple of people have told me this week that they think it would have been best not to say anything about him taking part in this race to not put too much weight on his shoulders.

Those people may well be right, but we have been playing it down for several months now, so dealing with pressure or expectations is all part of it. At the end of the day, is it right only to tell people after an event and of course only mention it if you have done well? I call that fear of failure which usually leads to not turning up on the day when it matters most, or and just like I did as a schoolboy, giving up and walking away from the sport.

As for him only being 19 years of age, well there are lots of lads much younger than him playing Premier League football with huge expectations placed upon them.

All great sports people learn how to deal with the pressure of expectations. They have too. That has always been one of the things which I have most noticed about winners. They just never fail or should I say in their minds never lose belief that if they do fail then it is just a setback and of course will carry on to eventually succeed.

When I worked with the boxer Jon Thaxton and Danny Mills the footballer, they both had several setbacks themselves in training and competition, but they never ever faltered in their own personal belief.

Irrespective of whether Callum achieves the end result this time around or not, it will not affect other people's lives or indeed his own unless he lets it happen. The only thing he needs to do is continue to be as dedicated as he has up to now and continue to focus on his ambitions for which I am confident he will achieve.

Running and athletics really is an awesome sport and there to be enjoyed, but for those who dare to dream, then make sure in later life you don't look back and say if only I had my time again...


Callum Bowen Jones ...Ref my EDP Column today....Armagh 5k Hard work, total dedication and commitment = success. This time last year his PB for 5k was 18:10...tonight albeit whilst we are waiting for the official chip time, we are pretty sure it was about 14:43....Bring it on.... He fell over at the start too. CONFIRMED 14:43 CHIP TIME.



Neil Featherby: Big race on the horizon? Block out the noise and focus on your training

Neil Featherby offered his marathon training tips to a group of Norwich Road Runners last week. Picture: Neil Featherby

So here we are into February and having agreed to try and help a few more people this year with their training for the London and other early season marathons, along with the many people who also pop into Sportlink for advice, it is quite clear that the realities of what training to run 26.2 miles really does mean.

Last week I was also invited along to the Norwich Road Runners by two former top local runners, Ray Lindsay and Richard Sales, to join them for what was a really enjoyable evening of talking running with of course a bit of a Q&A session also thrown in for good measure. What made it even nicer was the fact that all those present are running various marathons during the next few months albeit at differing levels of ability and experience.

At the end of the day though, it is all about being totally realistic and keeping it to the simple, but specific facts of how to apply your own training towards being able to run such a long distance event in the most efficient way possible.

However, as we know, keeping it simple is not always easy especially when realising that whilst we are now indeed into February, it does also mean that the first of the spring marathons is just a few weeks away for which many are now wondering if the training plan they are following or perhaps have not entirely followed I should say, means they may not be where they think they should be at this stage.

This of course is not just applicable to those who are worried about getting round and completing the distance, but to some of those more competent athletes whose confidence may have now waned a little with regards to what their original target time was. In other words as we get ever nearer, it is easy for doubts to start creeping in if we let them.

This is also when it is so easy to get caught up searching for further advice and even looking for short cuts in the hope of finding the secret to a better and perhaps easier way to achieve the much wanted final result.

Let's face it, there is all sorts of available advice and info out there whereby sometimes you can end up spending more time talking about it than what it actually takes to do the training miles if you aren't careful.

Unfortunately all this ends up doing is leading to a sea of confusion, especially if you haven't heard the answer you might be looking for amongst all the various opinions.

Amongst all those varying opinions of course is mine for which I will always say that there are no magic wands so don't waste time looking for them and beyond that I will continue to say, look at exactly where you are currently at and then reassess your goals realistically if you deep down think you need to.

Once you have done that, you need to focus on your own training and most importantly don't start worrying about where are others may say they are at with theirs and take it one week at a time to be able to further adjust or amend if you need to.

The amount of times I have heard first time potential marathoners worrying that people they know have already got up to nearly 20 miles in training whereas they haven't even got up to half way yet i.e. 13 miles.

My answer to that might be: "yes, but those who are already nearly up to twenty milers in training have run several marathons before and have been running longer than you," or "yes, but you have had a setback with an injury or illness, whereas each time you go out to do your weekly or fortnightly long run, it's the furthest you have ever run for which your body will need more recovery time."

It is all about gently applying the stress and work load to allow the body time to adapt and of course become more efficient when it comes to meeting the demands.

Unfortunately for those who try to play catch up or do too much, too soon, they just end up increasing the risk of breaking down through injury or fatigue and hence why I said at the start of this column it is all about keeping it simple and realistic.

If you are lucky enough to have a coach who is there to advise and guide you which all running clubs will have, then listen to what they say and most importantly be confident in their knowledge. However, and most importantly be confident in your own belief that when you do eventually make it to the start line, you will be in the best shape you can possibly be in during what will have been your own personal journey to get there. That in itself can make those final 26.2 miles seem far less of a challenge.

Neil Featherby's EDP Friday Feature: 7th February 2020


Reviewed by Karen Hamilton - Sportlink.


Karen says...

Founded in 2009 by French trail runners Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard, Hoka One One came to the market with a different approach to running shoes with shoes that cradled the foot, with maximal cushioning , yet were still incredibly lightweight. Fast forward to 2019 and the launch of one of their new shoes the Rincon, so named after the famous surf spot.  

Having run for many years in their trademark neutral shoe the Clifton and the slightly firmer Elevon, I was excited to try this on a run. Weighing in at 179g for Women and 218g for Men and with a revised early stage meta-rocker this instantly felt more stripped back and extremely responsive, yet without compromise on the level of cushioning. The single layer mesh upper held my foot well which I was surprised with considering how light it felt. 

My first impression was that the Meta-Rocker (the curved mid-sole) was not as noticeable as in the more cushioned Clifton, but this could be down to the shoe giving a much more responsive feel. The majority of Hoka shoes, including the Rincon feature a heel to toe drop of 5mm. Having run in shoes with a higher heel to toe ratio, it didn't feel particularly flatter due in part to a slightly higher heel stack and the curved midsole promoting a more midfoot strike. I did find the sizing really generous, which is little unusual for Hoka, as we generally advise half a size bigger, but my usual size felt roomy in length.

The asymmetrical design on the upper and the sleeker profile makes the Rincon look much less bulky than some of the other models and makes for a very pleasing aesthetic. The Rincon feels fast but equally has enough cushion to make it a very comfortable all-purpose shoe. At a retail price point of £105, it sits slightly lower than a lot of similar shoes from other brands which normally range around the £120 mark, giving the shoe a slight edge over some competitors.


Neil Featherby: Who is really calling the tune in debate over trainers?









Following on from my column last week, I read in a national newspaper that the controversial Nike Vaporfly shoes are not to be banned when World Athletics makes its final decision at the end of this week.

Mandy Foyster in action at the Spine Race. Picture: Mandy Foyster

However, it is apparently expected to announce there will be a temporary suspension of any new shoe technology until after the Tokyo Olympics this year along with a thorough research project into examining just how advantageous these shoes are along with that of other rival brands at elite level.

I have now tried out three pairs from the rival brands as well as seeing tech sheets from a couple of others for which I really cannot see how they are technically any better in terms of improved performance than that of the Vaporfly albeit I do believe that at least one of them is far better when it comes to all round improvements i.e. more stable with potentially less reduction in breakdown and possible cause of injury.

If what I have read is true, then I really am left scratching my bald head as to how it is okay for one of the World's leading manufacturers to still be able to produce and sell a product whereas others now seem restricted.

Even more so if I have indeed read the newspaper report correctly which suggests that whilst Nike's next version the AlphaFly, which Eliud Kipchoge wore for his sub two-hour performance and apparently gives an 8% advantage is only banned at elite level, whereas there will be no restrictions on ordinary athletes wearing them in races when they are released in the shops.

Mandy Foyster came to Sportlink earlier this week after recently completing the Spine Race. Picture: Neil Featherby

However, what actually constitutes elite level i.e. sub 2:10 or slower or indeed quicker?

Whilst I may be well off the mark here, but is this not hypocrisy in our sport because if it is then for me it perhaps begs the question as to whether this is a case of he who pays the piper calls the tune? Apparently, senior officials are unclear as to the rule which says "shoes must not be constructed so as to give athletes an unfair assistance or advantage".

Irrespective of whether you are for or against this type of future shoe technology, what most certainly does not seem fair to me is that whilst one manufacturer is allowed to continue with production of their current questionable products, there is a restriction against all others.

Moving on... I want to give a special mention to Mandy Foyster. She really is an amazing lady and whilst I have been lucky enough to know her and her mum Peggy for the last 30 years or more (incidentally Peggy was also a marathon runner right into her 70s), I was so pleased to catch up with her earlier this week at Sportlink armed with her medal from her most recent amazing challenge, the Spine Marathon which I am sure just about everyone in local running followed.

If you want to be motivated then just following her and reading about all her past, current and of course no doubt future exploits will certainly do that for you.

However, if you want to be really inspired, then just spend a bit of time in her company as I can assure you that her huge enthusiasm for running and indeed life will definitely rub off on you.

It was in 2011 when Mandy really took on her first major solo challenge of running from her home in St Faiths all the way to London before then running in the London Marathon and I hasten to add with a stress fracture.

Then two years later she cycled all the way from Lands End to John O'Groats whilst following a much more scenic and of course longer route than what most others would take when taking on this challenge and in pretty bad weather too.

She immediately followed this up one week later by running in the London marathon before having a go at snorkeling 24 hours later. Needless to say there is a story behind this too which of course relates to that of all her challenges and that being raising lots of money for charity.

In 2014 she decided to row the 75 miles of all of Norfolk's rivers including going across Breydon Water in her inflatable dingy better known as HMS Loopy, before following that epic adventure up with a 500-mile run a year later running from St David's Head to Lowestoft.

No sooner had she finished that challenge though and her feet once again started to get itchy for which her thoughts soon turned to what was to be the planning of the perfect way for her to celebrate her 50th birthday.

Not the usual party of course like most others would have, as for her it meant a run up and down Mount Snowdon, Scaffel Pike and Ben Nevis where she actually spent the night so as to wake up on Britain's highest mountain on the morning of her birthday.

To make it just that bit more difficult of course, she also took part in a Catton parkrun before heading off on her push bike to complete this challenge. Needless to say she cycled all the way back too whilst covering a total of 1,500 miles. Oh and I nearly forgot to mention that she also took part in another parkrun prior to heading home.

She really is such a special person and for anyone who may have decided that 2020 was the year for them to also take on a challenge themselves, but are already looking for a bit of a boost as we head out of January, then definitely check out this lady. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed and to the point where possibly it is even better than having a pair carbon plated running shoes on your feet.

However, what better way to finish my column this week than signing off with these words from Mandy. "Running is like pure oxygen to me. I can survive on more, but when I run I feel I can cope with the demands of life so much easier. It has also given me the most fantastic circle of friends and whilst I could write 100 other good reasons why I love running which includes my love of nature and the changing seasons, I guess it is just that when I feel my mind and body is working in harmony together, then everything else follows naturally."

Neil Featherby's EDP FEATURE

Neil Featherby: We need to talk about trainers…









Where does the race to find the fastest trainer end? Picture: PA

During the last week, it has been announced that World Athletics may well ban the shoes which Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei wore for their record breaking marathon runs back in October.

Any such new rules could limit the use of carbon plates and certain other foam substances which are built into the midsoles of these particular running shoes due to their spring like effect which according to the manufacturer allows athletes to use less energy during their runs. This of course is a subject which I wrote about for my column back on December 6.

Apparently it is not just these road racing shoes which are now under review either what with sprint spikes from the same manufacturer also being closely looked at.

You could argue that ever since man and woman have put shoes on their feet to run in, there has been an advantage and in truth several manufacturers have suggested for a number of years now that their shoes do help to increase performance.

The point being is that sports people, especially those who want to be the best they can be, will always take notice of what is potentially the best equipment when it comes to producing peak performances.

Most technical sports have been producing products for years which are designed to give you that added edge, be it where mechanical equipment is used or indeed even a football boot which allegedly helps you kick a ball more sweetly.

However, and whereas running shoe brands may have in the past i.e. prior to 2017, suggested that the technology in their footwear helps with performance, in truth it has been far more about comfort and cushioning for protection.

Running has always been regarded as being a very pure sport and one which relies on one's own natural ability, combined with of course a disciplined commitment from the athlete towards their training. Let's not discuss the drug cheats of course.

My question is this though, if for instance a very good world class sprinter was to put on a pair of specialist spikes which really did give a significant gain and he was to break Usain Bolt's 100 metres world record of 9.58 secs, would that make him a better sprinter than Bolt, especially if he could not do the same if wearing the same model of shoes which Usain wore when setting the record?

This of course is exactly the same when it comes to any athletics event.

Having tested out a pair of shoes as worn by Kipchoge and Kosgei myself albeit the modified version along with that of two rival brands, I am convinced that these shoes do give an advantage.

This is also where I now contradict myself too as whilst I personally think that gaining such an advantage is really not ethical, at the same time and as said in my previous column about this subject, if they had been around back in my day, then yes I would have worn them, albeit more due to not wanting to be at a disadvantage to other runners who might have been wearing them.

Needless to say, the manufacturers themselves know that this is the type of thoughts which will go through a runner's mind for which they also know they can set the cost of any such product high.

As absolutely as ridiculous as this may sound, but if someone turned up on a start line with visible mechanical springs attached to their footwear, I am pretty sure other athletes and officials apart from standing there in fits of laughter, when all was said and done, they would soon react in a negative manner.

Therefore, if these technologies are hidden within a covered midsole does it then make it okay?

If nothing else I am sure this week's column will create some further debate.

On another note and talking of the purer side of sport and sporting achievements, well done to Mandy Foyster who so many of us followed during her amazing efforts in the 268 mile Spine Race along the Pennine Way.

Whilst she is absolutely phenomenal, she is also one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Neil Featherby's EDP FEATURE

Neil Featherby: Memories of Peter Andrews – one of Norfolk’s finest ever athletes









Peter Andrews after winning the over 60 category at the Rotterdam Marathon. Picture: Archant

Having reached another birthday this week, I really am at a stage in my life where birthday's cannot come slow enough.

Peter Andrews - one of Norfolk's finest ever runners. Picture: Archant

However, each birthday always reminds me of a great, but late friend of mine, who shared the same birthday for which each year we would meet up early on January 16 to go out for a long run.

Whilst there were many differences between the pair of us by way of personalities, there were also many similarities particularly our intenseness when it came to running.

However, he was also 19 years older than me for which I always used to marvel at not only his huge enthusiasm for running, but his amazing ability too.

Peter Andrews, who passed away in October, 2004, aged just 65, was a most remarkable man, never mind athlete, and his knowledge of running was immense.

He was an accountant by trade which explained a lot of things. He would know exactly how far he had run by number of strides and indeed pace. "How fast are we running Pete?" I would say only for him to reply with an answer that was never rounded up to the nearest figure, but always precise.

Who needed a GPS watch when you had Pete on a run with you? Not that they existed back then of course!

After a long stint as a very good cyclist, he didn't take up running until he was into his 40s which also just happened to coincide with the running boom of the early 1980s for which he initially joined Dereham AC and then Duke Street Runners prior to their amalgamation with CoNAC.

It was quite clear very early on that he was a natural when it came to running and was part of a Sunday morning group which I was also part of where I think it is fair to say if you could not run 5 min miles or quicker, you were off the back very early on.

Despite being that much older than the rest of us, he wasn't scared to take you on and when the boot was put down and you thought you had dropped him, the next thing you knew he was kicking the back of your heels which incidentally was something else which he was also good at albeit seeing us take several tumbles along the way too which always created a good laugh once the run was finished.

Apart from endless race wins on the track and the road at the highest of levels, if my memory serves me correctly he also won the London Marathon in his age category on at least two occasions and the Rotterdam Marathon as well. He definitely did not like cross country though.

The man really was awesome and earnt the utmost respect from everyone who knew him, particularly due to his modesty despite all his many achievements.

Whilst I have nowhere near enough space to write about this great man in my column for this week, I do very much intend doing a much bigger feature for a future Run Anglia.

However, one story which I must mention as it so very much epitomises Pete, was after I had been invited to race in The Hague 10km road race back in 1990 where on the day of travel I received a call to say there had been a few athletes drop out and did I want to bring any of my mates along with me.

With that I made a few calls to people with of course Pete being one of them. Unfortunately he wasn't home from work at the time, but one of his sons said could he tell him what it is all about when he does arrive home. You can I said, but it won't matter now as I am about to leave for Holland this weekend.

Then just as I was reversing out of my drive, one of my sons shouted out of the door to say that Pete was on the phone and he wanted to come along with me to do the race. I already had another runner, Gary Booty in the car with me too and just looked at him and said that's typical of Pete, but let's go pick him up.

Whilst on the way to Harwich, Pete leaned over the back seat and said: "When are we coming back?" - "Not until Tuesday" I replied. With that he started panicking saying he had an important meeting at work on the Monday morning. "Sorry Pete, I am not going back now as we are already late," and I just carried on driving.

The look on his face in my mirror was an absolute picture especially as I could hear him mumbling away in the back of the car.

Anyway, a ferry journey over to the Hague only to be woken up by the ships steward at 6am to then see a half awake Pete looking around the cabin in disbelief before saying "where are we?" Me and Gary absolutely cracked up laughing for which I just could not resist saying "yes Pete, we really are in Holland and this really is not a bad dream."

Nevertheless and whilst I managed a 30:46 clocking in the race and Gary a 32:34, our Pete won his category which was now in the 50 to 54 age group, in just over 33 minutes, beating several former top class internationals who were also now competing in the same class as him and in true Dutch fashion, there he was at the presentation on top of the podium being presented with his trophy and a considerable amount of cash for being race winner.

I have so many stories about this man as do so many others for which I will always remember him so very fondly. He was still winning races right up to the end of his life and I along with a few other mates even did a 22 mile training run with him just 10 days before his very sad passing. Needless to say we had the usual burn up with a mile to go.

Happy birthday memories Peter Andrews, who, for me, is possibly pound for pound Norfolk's finest ever athlete especially when age is taken into consideration.

Neil Featherby's EDP FEATURE





Neil Featherby: Where there’s a will, there’s a way – just ask the family who refused to miss their son’s big race









Callum Bowen Jones before the start of the Norfolk Cross Country Championships U20 race. Picture: Mark Hewlett

New year is definitely a time for being resolute and determined.

However, when it comes to sporting matters and of course that of business then this is something I am always very dogmatic about be it January or indeed any other month of the year.

If you are going to do something, then do exactly what you say you intend doing. If not then either lower your standards and be more realistic or just don't say it in the first place.

One family who I help with their running, so very much epitomises exactly what it means to be very strong willed and they are the Bowen Jones family who are all members of Dereham AC.

Callum Bowen Jones on the home straight of the Norfolk Cross Country Championships U20 race. Picture: Mark Hewlett

I have been working with Craig Bowen Jones, for about seven years now and, during that time, to say it has been full on at times is an understatement. However, I get it and know exactly where he is coming from which helps when coming to terms with certain training situations and putting everything into context.

Callum Bowen Jones wins the Norfolk Cross Country Championships U20 race. Picture: Mark Hewlett

I have also been working with his son Callum for the last 18 months whilst also lending support to Tracey, Craig's wife and Cal's mum as she is now looking forward to running in her first marathon in April.

Nevertheless, and with the intro done, Craig and Tracey spent all of last week away skiing in the Alps, whilst Callum stayed at home working on his final preparations before last Sunday's Norfolk Cross Country Championships where he was racing in the men's U20 race.

Having already won the Eastern Counties title back in November, needless to say he also badly wanted to do well in the Norfolk event and really has worked hard these last few months for which I knew he was in great shape. So much so I was more than confident that if he had run in the senior race he would have certainly made the top three and did indeed lead the way with the senior men's winner Michael Eccles until when the race separated with the seniors having to then do a further 2k.

However, and what about this for showing what real resolution and determination. As Craig and Tracey sat in Chambery airport in the south east of France last Saturday morning waiting for their flight home, what with poor weather conditions, their flight was cancelled with no indication whatsoever as to how long they may have to wait.

I spoke with Craig on the phone and he was so worried about not getting back in time to see Callum run, he said he was thinking about hiring a car and driving the 700 miles or so back home.

Needless to say after putting the phone down I thought it would all be okay and a flight would indeed be put on, but not so. With no indication whatsoever that the weather was going to clear in time, after sitting around in the airport for nine hours, Craig tried to book an alternative flight from Grenoble.

Unfortunately that was not to be, so without any further thought, he and Tracey hurriedly left the airport and hailed down a taxi to take them to Lyon where he had managed to hire a car, albeit a small Fiat 500, where they not only squeezed themselves into it, but all their bags and luggage too.

After then being told that there was no space for foot passengers on the Calais to Dover ferry, it meant a further drive to drop off the hire car and then another taxi to Dunkirk where they arrived at 2.15am.

In the meantime they had also put a call into their daughter Ellie in Norwich asking her and her boyfriend to drive to Dover, get on the ferry and then pick them up the other side.

Not for the want of cutting this story any further short, Ellie duly picked them up in Dunkirk and they all boarded the 6am ferry arriving back in the UK an hour and half later.

The story doesn't end there though as they then had to drive to Thetford to meet up with Callum, give him his final briefing and chase all over the park from point to point cheering him on as they so very proudly watched him take the honours crossing the line in first place to become the Norfolk U20 men's cross country champion for 2020.

As for any thoughts of resting on your laurels and enjoying the moment for a bit, not a chance, as it was now down to our champion to do his bit when after the presentation had taken place and armed with trophy and medal in hand, he now had to drive his mum and dad all the way back to Gatwick to pick the family car up before they all eventually arrived home at 7.30pm and 39 hours after when the drama all first began.

In total, they had driven 967 miles, but and as proved by all of them, if you really are determined to do something, then where there's a will, there is always a way too.

Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature


Reviewed by Chris Mickleburgh - Sportlink.

Chris says…

When we tend to bring people out a pair of 361, the vast majority of people have not heard of them. The Spire 4 may well be on the way to changing that with it’s instantly plush and comfortable step in feel. The tongue and heel are both nicely padded which is part of the reason for this. Another is the high level of cushioning in the shoe. A combination of QU!K Spring+ foam designed for rebound and comfort all whilst saving weight and QU!KFOAM, an EVA rubber blend with a PU coating which provides excellent durability, cushioning and responsiveness.

It could be argued that there are more cushioned shoes on the market or lighter weight more responsive shoes, and you wouldn’t be wrong. What the Spire 4 does manage to do very well is to give you a lightweight and well cushioned shoe which is a jack of all trades. From easy runs, to efforts and long runs, this shoe has more than enough of everything you would need to perform in any given area.

Your foot feels locked in and secure around the mid foot due to it’s MORPHIT construction and stable thanks to a QU!K Spine, a carbon fibre shank which adds integrity to the midfoot. The shoe features a 9mm heel to toe drop and a soft breathable upper which is a roomier fit in the toe box than other models in the range. 

Neil Featherby: Think carefully about your 2020 running plans so you don’t waste anyone’s time









Neil Featherby on a training run. Picture: Mark Hewlett

New Year, New You, a slogan we regularly use at Sportlink at this time of year where for lots of people it's out with the old and in with the new with thoughts being geared to being a better me and of course a better you having now entered 2020.

From my own personal point of view, 2019 has been a pretty unforgettable year, that's for sure, and I think it's fair to say pretty different to the many years of my life which have gone before.

Nevertheless, going into 2020, one resolution which will be no different to that of this time last year or indeed several previous year' too and that is to be far more organised.

My problem is that I have my fingers in too many pies and I am just too involved with far too many things to ever really plan my days ahead out clearly.

My day will always start with a run. That is a must! Needless to say a second run will be in the mix too, but as long as I have got at least one run in before I tackle anything else, then I am relatively settled.

My dogs of course also love running so that's two jobs done in one.

After that, there is Sportlink work although to be fair that is not so crazy anymore what with having great staff to also take care of things there.

It's all the other projects which I am involved in which do somewhat split me into several pieces throughout any given day.

Some days, I feel like I have done loads when in truth I have done absolutely nothing which I had set out to do.

Needless to say, my time keeping is also pretty rubbish as well. Just ask Mark (Armstrong).

I am sure he tells me that copy has to be in two days before it really is as he knows I will always be late.

However, back in the days, when it really was just my running which dominated my daily life, I can honestly look back and say that despite averaging 20 miles a day, that was when I was the most organised I have ever been.

Whereas people tell me that they struggle to find the time of day to fit in all the running they would like to do, for me it really was my training which kept me organised.

I knew exactly how my life was going to pan out from one day to the next or of course from one race to the next.

People not only knew what time of day I would run by their house, but also on what day of the week too what with my schedule working to the strictest of discipline and clockwork.

Consistent and dedicated, I most certainly was.

However, I was also very focused and driven and whilst I was always realistic as to what my capabilities were. I was hell-bent on being every bit as capable as what I felt those capabilities were.

Needless to say during the last few weeks I have been asked by lots of people to help them with their own New Year running and training plans.

Some just want to be fit enough and good enough to do well in local races whilst others have some serious racing plans including marathon dates in April.

None of this is new to me having been there so many times with people in the past. What I have now learnt over time is to recognise those who are very realistic and will stay with it as opposed to those who have great intentions of being far better than they have been up to now. I just know from experience that some really do need to modify their ambitions or they will just burn out in no time at all.

They most certainly mean well, but just sometimes and despite however bad they may want it, it will always come back down to realism and consistency.

Mark summed it up brilliantly in his column last week when saying that after several weeks of being injured he can now look at things much clearer and realises just how important it is for him to balance his running with everything else which is important in his life.

He also said that in 2020, he just wants to be the best he can be which is brilliant, but that also means being the best he can be after fitting his weekly running schedule effectively into his life and not trying to do it the other way around.

Trying to fit in too much, too soon, usually ends up with something going wrong which causes further stress and pressure which of course is not conducive to good running or indeed health.

At the same time, it also means being realistic to get the very best out of the training which is to be done whilst knowing that if you can only fit in one 60-minute run each week with a mix of two or three other runs consisting of between 30 and 40 minutes then whilst you might run a decent 10K, the likelihood is that you won't run a sub 2:35 marathon.

Therefore before starting any new routine, think about everything very carefully and then if done intelligently, with time and patience you will be able to watch your plans go in the right direction.

Bit by bit not only will you see the relevant gains, but also gradually learn how to build new structure and increased planning into your lifestyle as well. It's all about opening one door at a time.

As for anyone still asking me for help, apart from those who I am already working with, I have told all the others to go away albeit with a little guidance and then prove to me that they can stay with it sensibly for six weeks before then coming back to speak to me again.

If they do, then awesome. However, if they don't or they fall by the wayside before then, as blunt as this may sound, I will not have wasted any of my own personal precious time in what is already a chaotic and pretty disorganised lifestyle, which incidentally after I have given out all this advice is likely to be no better at the end of January 2020 than it was at the end of January 2019.

Anyway, here's to a very Happy New Year to everyone who is running and keeping fit in 2020 for which I really do hope you all achieve your own personal goals.

Finally, good luck to everyone taking part in this Sunday's Norfolk County Cross Country Championships, at Thetford.

Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature

Neil Featherby: Reflections on a decade to savour for running









Athletes like Jessica Ennis-Hill inspired a nation at the London 2012 Olympics. Picture: PA

So not only the end of another year, but another decade and as we get older, it's not only the years which go more quickly, but the decades too.

Richard Polley has been a key administrator in the road running scene in Norfolk over the last 10 years. Picture: Epic Action Imagery

However, going quickly or not, when we do actually look back, it is also amazing just how much we have crammed into those 10 years and of course by the very many things which have also happened during this period.

When I sat down to write this piece with regards to what has been a super decade of sport, I had it all worked out in my head as to how it would unfold.

Nevertheless, as soon as I sat down to write it, the only thing which unfolded was how impossible it would be to cram so much into what is a fairly small piece for Run Anglia what with so many fantastic sporting moments having taken place.

If I had to name one most outstanding highlight though, then for me it has to be the London Olympic Games in 2012.

There are no two ways about it, those games really were something for the UK to be proud of, what with the immense organisation along with of course our fantastic performances not only on the track, but across so many sports where we won 65 medals (29 gold) in total.

I also think it is fair to say that there can be no doubt that it was these games which was the catalyst for so many people to take up sporting activities, particularly running.

Yes, such things as the parkrun were already up and running (sorry no pun intended there), but after 2012, the increase in numbers attending not only parkruns, but organised races too, were huge.

Whilst it now seems like people of all ages and abilities are out there running and exercising, it is definitely during this last decade where it really has become so much more than just a boom.

It's not just the traditional distances either, Tough Mudders and anything which is deemed to be extreme have also become mainstream. Ultra-marathons, which perhaps years ago would have been lucky to see 50 people entered, now sees hundreds of people taking part in races which range from 50 miles up to 100 miles and of course multi day races too.

As for being able to turn up on the day and enter as you could in many cases years ago, that has now long gone with most races filling up to maximum numbers within hours of opening for entries.

Whilst having mentioned that all abilities now happily enter and take part in races, at the very sharp end, we have seen a sub two-hour marathon which I am pretty sure no one would have thought was going to happen at the start of the decade. We all know it is unofficial but the fact a human being, albeit a very special one in the shape of Eliud Kipchoge, has done it almost beggars belief.

Then just a day later, Brigid Kosgei smashed the woman's world record with a staggering 2:14:04 clocking in the Chicago marathon.

Needless to say that here in Norfolk, we have also seen some outstanding performances with of course so many of our athletes attaining international status and far too many to mention by name although in truth I am scared that I will miss someone out if I do.

Our clubs have also risen to another level and with the influx of so many new runners swelling the ranks of these clubs, this has also contributed to so many of these people bringing new skills and professionalism with them. Once again far too many people to mention.

However, one man who I am going to mention by name and that is Richard Polley, who has most certainly been involved with Norfolk athletics for more than just a decade going right back to when he was an excellent club runner boasting times which would indeed place him in the top three in many a good club race of today.

Why am I mentioning him though? Firstly because he has been a leading servant to our sport. Whilst there has been a huge boom in the number of runners taking part in events in Norfolk, there have been lots of new races such as the Run Norwich 10k exploding onto the road running scene for which Richard in one form or another has been so ably involved with.

To say he likes to methodically tick all boxes when it comes to organisation is an understatement. At the same time and apart from any events which he has been heavily involved with himself, he has always been on hand to help guide others into ensuring that everything runs smoothly when it comes to their own race organisation too.

During the last few months it has been suggested that he is going to start taking a back seat in 2020 and perhaps play a slightly more low key role.

If he does then I am more than sure that once again he will have ticked all boxes with regards to making sure that everything is in place before he does, but at the same time he will still most certainly be a big miss to not only Norfolk athletics and road running, but to what is a huge part of the Norfolk sporting community.

He is definitely a man who very rarely gets it wrong, but on a light hearted side I do have to mention one of his most famous quotes in the early days of parkrun, when he was heard to say "it will never catch on". Even the best can't always be right!

Anyway all the very best to him in 2020 and of course to every single person who puts on a pair of running shoes in the New Year.


Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature


STARTS - FRIDAY 27th 10.30am
FINISHES - TUESDAY 31st 4.30pm


Ready to get fit for 2020? Start the New Year in style.
Our team of experts are ready with personal advice to everyone from athletes to absolute beginners.

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There's plenty of other shopping you can do at Taverham Garden Centre, Craft and Shopping complex where we are based just off the NDR.
There's the Nursery, Gift shops, Clothing, Cafes, Chocolates, Antiques, Toys, Fruit & Veg plus much more!

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SHOE OF THE MONTH – The Brooks Running Adrenaline GTS 20

SHOE OF THE MONTH????‍♀️????‍♂️
The Brooks Running Adrenaline GTS 20
Reviewed by Sportlink's Chris Mickleburgh
Chris says…
GTS stands for go to shoe and this certainly was the case with the previous model. With it being so popular I couldn’t see what Brooks would be able to change on the latest update to the ever-popular Adrenaline. The 19 was the first version to feature guiderail technology. In the latest model it feels like these guiderails have been integrated better within the shoe and aren’t an afterthought which has been added. Like before, the guiderails act like bumpers at a bowling alley and are designed to kick in when you need the support rather than always being there.
The heel has been brought up to date with its brother the Ghost 12 where it is more atomically fitted to stop the shoe slipping. The smooth lining of the Adrenaline 19 has gone and been replaced with a ribbed fabric to further help. The upper has an understated sock like fit which wraps the foot and feels soft and comfortable.
The midsole DNA loft is soft yet responsive. This makes for a great all round shoe you can do both shorter speedwork in or long runs. I’ve used this run for longer tempo runs as it has a good amount of energy return but also comfortable enough for my recovery runs as well.
Men's & Women's now available from our Running Superstore in Taverham.
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#5k #10k #5miles #10miles #20miles #halfmarathon #marathon #triathlon #jogging #trailrunning #athletics #morningrun #marathontraining #reasontorun #runtoinspire


December is always a very special time for us at Sportlink when we look to bring some extra Christmas cheer and celebrations to the store. Needless to say this year will be no different so keep an eye out on social media for our next charity treadmill challenge and of course this year’s Sportlink Xmas Film….

However, we are also very much aware of just how busy people can get trying to get so many things done in such a short period of time which all adds to the pressure.

Therefore and with this in mind, if you are one of those very busy people, let us help ease things a little for you by bringing items of your choice straight to your door with our new Sportlink Christmas Express Service.

Craig already has the van loaded up, with shoes, run wear, equipment and plenty of stocking fillers, but just like Santa’s sleigh, somehow there is always enough room for more.

Our service is free if within a 10 mile radius of the store or £5 outside of this. Minimum purchase is £50.

Oh and if he remembers, he will bring you some mince pies too…

☎️Call 01603 868606 and pay over the phone and we will arrange with you our SANTA'S EXPRESS DELIVERY SERVICE.

For our opening times please check our website:

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Neil Featherby: The great trainer debate… can a shoe really make you four percent faster?

Eliud Kipchoge won the London Marathon for a fourth time earlier this year... but how important are the trainers he wears? Picture: PA

During the last few weeks, I have been amazed at some of the discussions I have been having surrounding runners' perceptions and beliefs about what a running shoe really can do for them by way of improved performance.

I will be the first to admit that whilst I love new technology and updates in sports science, I am still very much cynical about a lot of things. Certainly until I have seen it or tested it out for myself.

However, amongst all those who I have had discussions with, two of them just happen to be world class athletes and they are adamant that two particular models of running shoes on the market are key to further improvement.

My thoughts always go back to when I started working in the sports trade over 30 years ago and my then boss would always say that whilst it was so very important for sportspeople to have the right equipment, it was just as important to realise that it was also down to the person using the product when it came to performance. Being a first class tennis player he said: "It's not the racket, but the man on the end of it that counts". Needless to say, I changed that to: "It's the man in shoes and not the shoes on the man."

Anyway and on the back of the Eliud Kipchoge's recent sub 2 hour marathon and his previous marathon triumphs, claims by his shoe manufacturer suggests that the shoes he wear can actually help improve running efficiency by 4% due to the construction of them and the special foams which are situated between carbon plates.

I can honestly say that I cannot remember a time during my 30 years in the trade when so many people have talked so much about a specific pair of running shoes. Whilst four percent to some may not seem that much, it most certainly is and is actually huge over the distance of a marathon.

With regards to the two international world class athletes earlier mentioned, one of them prefers the shoes which Kipchoge and just about all the other Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes wear whilst the other one (a female athlete) who we see regularly at Sportlink, prefers a shoe made by a rival manufacturer and although designed slightly differently, the overall effects are still all about running efficacy and energy return.

When she came into the store to get a pair, I did actually laugh and say: "What do you want them for when you are already doing so well?"

She replied: "Because everyone else is using them."

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

I totally get it as any motivated athlete will at the end of the day want to run and perform to the very best of their ability and will always look for any advantage they can get when it comes to their equipment.

I also get the fact that when you line up on the start line and see so many other elite athletes wearing the same shoes it can distract your focus if you are wearing something different.

Or of course when it starts to hurt mid race, the last thing you want going through your head is that the athlete who might just be sitting on your shoulder has an extra advantage over you due to them having a pair of shoes which supposedly helps with improved running efficiency.

I did also say to her very much tongue in cheek: "If they are that good then is it not cheating?"

I was very much joking but I suppose you could also argue that if you go right back to when a running shoe was nothing much more than just a plimsole or even a heavy leather type shoe, manufacturers and designers have for over 100 years been looking at ways to develop footwear to help athletes run with more ease, comfort and more pace.

With regards to Kipchoge's recent history making run, whilst I am sure his shoes, which were actually an upgraded version, did actually help, there were also much bigger factors which enabled him to produce what really was an amazing performance.

Everything came together for him on the day that's for sure and he is undoubtedly the world's best marathon runner. However, with all the other factors which were put in place for the run, I still feel sure that his performance would have been the same in any other good racing shoe.

At the end of the day it does very much come down to clever promotion of a product and how the marketing affects our mindset and thoughts, be it directly or subliminally.

With that in mind there was of course only one way to find out and that would be to test the so called four percent shoes out vs the rival brands version for myself for which that is exactly what I have done during this last week.

Up to now, I have always preferred running in lightweight and low profile shoes without any real support or cushioning so in truth I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.

However and after a week of running in both sets of shoes, I do now have to say that I really am amazed.

Both pairs definitely gave me an extra spring in my step and no pun intended there either. In fact as the week has gone on I have discovered that I really can still run at a pace which I thought I left behind years ago.

Needless to say I am totally aware that a lot of it could be down to the buzz of having a bit of a challenge, but there is no two ways about it, in terms of running efficiency and pace, both sets of shoes certainly do have that extra something.

Is it ethical? I am not sure is the answer.

Were the four percenters better than the rival? Yes and no, as there were factors whereby if one had more of this, then the other pair had more of that.

Would I have liked to have been able to run and, more importantly, race in either of these shoes back in my day? Absolutely.

I now tell everyone, a four percent difference makes me a 2:11:52 marathon runner although I am pretty sure by the moans, groans and definite yawns from those who I have dared to listen to me, none of them believe me.

Going forward, all the leading brands will now manufacture shoes with claims of not only having the same benefits, but no doubt other benefits which is exclusive to them for which after all these years, I still find running shoe technology fascinating and can only wonder where it will all end.


Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature

????SHOE OF THE MONTH – The ASICS Kayano 26


Reviewed by Chris Mickleburgh - Sportlink.

Chris says…
The first thing that struck me when putting on the Kayano 26 was how plush the shoe felt. It was soft and padded around both the heel and tongue and unlike previous Asics models there was plenty of room in the toebox of the shoe. For me this was a good thing but for Pete it felt a bit sloppy and his foot moved around too much in it. He also felt the tongue had a tendency to slightly move to one side throughout his runs, something again I didn’t notice.
The duomax medial post offers a good amount of pronation support, which alongside the trusstic shank makes for a very stable and comfortable ride. The amount of cushioning within the shoe keeps you feeling comfortable on longer runs and I enjoyed the smooth transition the shoe gives you from heel to toe. The combination of flytefoam propel and gel cushioning creates a lovely soft landing but allows the shoe to still feel responsive when toeing off and picking up the pace. I’ve always though Asics were a brand that felt firmer underfoot but while running in the Kayano I noticed how it felt noticeably softer in comparison to other brands you could say that the Kayano 26 still is firmer but that is only when compared to very soft feeling shoes from other brands such as the Brooks Transcend 6 and Hoka Arahi 3. In the Asics range it is a lot more cushioned than it’s younger sibling the GT-2000.
If you like the Asics feel then you’ll love this shoe and for people like me who have never had a pair of Asics before I will be considering them next time I’m due a new pair.
Men's & Women's now available from our Running Superstore in Taverham.
Come and try them for yourself!
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Going The Distance – Neil Featherby

He's the man behind Sportlink that people know, love and respect but now it’s his turn to be in the spotlight for our Q&A...

What inspired you to start running?
Where do I start with this one? At 9 years of age I remember reading a comic with the fictional character Alf Tupper in it and I suppose his nickname “Tough of The Track” appealed to me. However, I also remember watching the 1970 Commonwealth Games as a 12 year old and just got hooked on watching the distance events. It just so happened that by the time I got to Hellesdon High School, where cross country running was compulsory, I was good at it. I went on to win area and Norfolk schools titles on the track and cross country too. Then having just turned 16 years of age, I ran in the Eastern Counties Schools X/C Champs, lost one of my shoes after less than a quarter of a mile and finished 2nd in the race after running virtually all the way with just one shoe on. A few weeks later I left school and that was it as far as competitive running was concerned for me for another 8 and a bit years. I just think what with work and of course other things which appeal to young lads in their later teens, that became far more appealing than running at least 80 miles a week which I had been doing from when I started training properly aged 14.

Picture: At the Malta Marathon being presented with a trophy by one of my all-time heroes, Emil Zatopek, the only athlete to ever win the 5,000 metres, 10,000 metres and marathon in the same Olympic Games.

What have been your greatest achievements?
Whatever I say now I will think different later on so I don’t think I have one. I am lucky to have had several. My first England vest in 1986 (Aberdeen Marathon 2nd) was so very special as was my first GB Vest in 1987 (Kosice International Marathon 13th). Winning the Leicester Marathon in 1984 was also very special for personal reasons as was winning the Wolverhampton Marathon in 1987, which is where competitive running all started for me again in 1982. So to go back five years later and win it, meant a lot. Then of course there was winning my local Norfolk marathon four times (1986, 1987, 1989 & 1990) which was also the Eastern Counties Marathon Champs as well. However, my first sub 2:20 in Berlin in 1985 when I finished in 2:19:07 and then of course a year later when I ran 2:17:35 also at Berlin. As said, it is difficult to pick one out as I also have so many fond memories of trips and marathons overseas, such as the Hong Kong Marathon 3rd and Bermuda Marathons 4th. It is endless really and all I can say is that running really has been a huge part of my life for which I have been privileged to visit and race in countries all around the World because of it. Just as importantly I have met some absolutely awesome people who became good friends for which I still keep in touch with them to this very day.

Picture: Winning the Leicester Marathon in 1984.

Have you had any serious injuries?
Depends upon what you mean by serious. I had two stress fractures in 1981, when I decided to start running again after a seven year lay-off. As many will know, it was after recovering from those stress fractures when my every day running streak started and thankfully still exist. I have ran at least once every day for the last 38 years (Sept 1st 1981). Oh and yes of course I have had several other set backs through injury or illness during that time. However, let’s not talk about running when hurt or ill. I have some serious obsessional tendencies lol.

What is your favourite race distance?
I suppose I have to say the marathon, but I did like racing 5 milers through to 10 miles a lot too. Even 5k’s. Needless to say, I have also raced plenty of half marathons and other distances up to the marathon along with a few ultras up to 106 miles on the back end of my racing career.

What is your favourite pre-race food?
I am a vegetarian and have been for over 20 years. Prior to that I had spells of trying to be a vegetarian during the 1980s, but back then I could not get it right so would eat white meat and fish. Having studied sports nutrition, I now know how to ensure that my diet meets all the nutritional requirements. Nevertheless and answering your question, my diet back in my competitive running days, always consisted of a high consumption of complex carbohydrates what with running well over 100 miles each week be it for training or racing. On the day itself assuming it was a morning race, then nothing more than something very light such as a bowl of porridge with perhaps a round of wholemeal toast. If an afternoon race, then something a little more substantial, about three to four hours beforehand, but once again nothing too heavy. May be a couple of rounds of wholemeal toast with two poached or scrambled eggs. If it was an ultra, then I would probably eat a small rice or pasta dish with tinned tomatoes about four hours before.

Picture: Battling it out at the front when on the way to winning the Bury St Edmunds 20 mile road race in 1986.

Do you have any post-race recovery tips, food drink, rest?
Yes of course, particularly after a hard race of an hour or more. You don’t always want to eat straight away, so a recovery drink to help with hydration and refuelling with a couple of pieces of fruit. I would also make my own type of smoothie sometimes too. I would then keep drinking until I was sure I was hydrated and then look to consume a proper meal, once again containing plenty of carbs with some protein and good fats. After a marathon, I would keep my running down to just very easy short runs for a few days whilst paying very careful attention to my diet so as to help ensure full recovery.

Do you have any superstitions or favourite pieces of kit like lucky socks etc...?
Yes, I am terrible. Kit was never really an issue, but I have bad OCD which I don’t mind admitting too. Having worked with lots of tops sports people, I am amazed at how many others do too. I think because of how am, I so easily recognise it in others.

If you were able to do any other sport, what would you choose?
I have been involved with several other sports and at a high level. I grew up wanting to be a speedway rider initially. Then a footballer before discovering my talents were better suited to running. At the same time, I have also been involved with football in a fitness capacity and professional boxing. I have seen the good and the very worst side of this sport, so it can be a bit of a love, hate thing for me. Nevertheless, I did absolutely love training with all the guys back in the day. Working with Paul Ingle when he defended his World IBF Lightweight Title at Madison Square Gardens was absolutely awesome. However and just seven months later, it went from awesome to horrific. Yes as said, I have seen the really good side of boxing and then as what happened to Paul, the worst.

If you had an ideal weather condition and time of day to run, what would it be?
I love running in the rain when it is really fresh. You can’t beat it!

What is your all time favourite running shoe?
I am a real geek when it comes to running shoes and have a huge collection which goes back years. I even have a pair of Lawrence Ripple cross country shoes which were the last pair I bought when at school and just before packing up. However, there have and always will be just one type of shoe which I like and that is light weight and pretty minimal. There are now so many shoes on the market where there is most certainly something for everyone, but for me and as said, they have to be minimal. If I have to pick a favourite, then it would be the Reebok Paris and Nike Terra TC. Both models from the mid 1980s. Neither of those brands in my opinion produce shoes like they did back then. Currently, I really do like some of the shoes which On now manufacture as they are as near to fitting and feeling like my very old favourites from yesteryear.

Who’s your running hero?
Far too many to mention them all, but Emil Zatopek, who I was lucky to meet twice, Ron Hill, Rob De Castella, Steve Jones, Steve Ovett who I also became good friends with until losing touch with him after he left the UK. I spent the day with him and his then wife Rachel, on my 32nd birthday along with a few others on a yacht in Bermuda and then just as we were all heading back to our hotel, he said to me, “do you fancy going for a birthday drink?” It was awesome and ironically their first born arrived exactly one year later to the day. They sent me pics each consecutive year too for a while.

Picture: With Steve Ovett and friends after the Bermuda Marathon in 1990.

What’s the best thing about owning Sportlink?
That really is a tough one to answer once again.
Owning Sportlink really has been like running a marathon. In other words it has been a 25 year rollercoaster. However and just like any good marathon runner, even if and when you go through a bad patch, you have to keep your mind fully focused whilst always believing in your ability to come out of it so as to finish strongly during those last few miles and get across the finish line knowing you have done a great job. Apart from that and just like my running career, I really have met so many fantastic people along the way. Not just from the running world either. For many years and right up to moving up to Taverham, in 2009, we were heavily involved with the football clubs, rugby clubs and of course those from boxing as well. Even hockey and cricket for a time. Running and sport has been my life, so I suppose that’s the answer to the question of what’s the best thing about owning Sportlink.

How do you see the future of running?
Running has changed so much over the last few years. It is now so much more than just a competitive sport or as a way to get fit for another form of sport. These days, people run for so many differing reasons. I think it is great and I don’t mean just from the perspective of the business. Years ago, if you went running, particularly around the streets, you could be sure that you were going to hear a few cat calls with the usual boring and repetitive comments for which it would put a lot of people off. Or of course they would go out running when it was dark in the hope that no one would see them. However, no one give it a second thought anymore whereby it is just part of every day life and expectancy to see people out running irrespective of their ability, age or indeed shape or size. There was a time when I was waiting for the bubble to burst, but I don’t think it will now. Needless to say, the introduction of the Park Runs are one of the reasons that running has become so very popular and I also believe social media, particularly facebook.

I will also just mention that, whilst I have seen running change so much over the years, I have also seen huge changes in the running and sports industry. What with the running boom of today, the market has been flooded with products and of course many obscure and even extreme events which really are so very popular. It’s not that many years ago when people would have suggested that you must be mad to even think about doing some of the runs which now exist. There are some people out there who will look at it purely from the purist and elitists point of view, but that is wrong. At the end of the day, if people are getting enjoyment from what they are doing or they need that little bit of extra excitement to get them out there running and that is what keeps them exercising, then great. Who can argue with that? The only thing I will say is that I do personally think that before some people jump straight into a pair of running shoes, if they have not done any exercise for several years and perhaps have one or two minor health issues, they really should just have a professional check up before doing so. This is where the Couch to 5k programme also comes in and has proved to be effective.

Whilst we have seen what is now known as “Lifestyle Running” becoming so very popular, at the very sharp end, the elite are just getting so much quicker. No one can really argue that it is the Kenyans and Ethiopians who make up most of the sharp end in endurance running, but when you look at what recently happened with Eliud Kipchoge and the sub 2 hour marathon challenge, or with Brigid Kosgei running 2:14:04 just 24 hours later in Chicago, it is mind blowing. I do also think that much of this improvement in performances has to come down to all the funding from big businesses who back the sport be it the athletes or of course the sports scientists and techno guys who so very carefully monitor everything especially when it comes to such projects as the two hour challenge. Therefore and as long as the interest from the public and media continue and providing the shoe manufacturers and other businesses continue with their backing, then I am sure we can expect to see many more phenomenal advancements during the next few years.

How has the sports trade changed during your 30 plus years in the business?
Well having just mentioned the roles of manufacturers and sports science, there are now so many new additions to the every day runners kit for which some of these products really are super and so innovative. But and at the same time there are also some products out there which I do have to say cause me to raise an eyebrow.

Picture: Leading from the start of the Bungay Half Marathon in 1986.

People who come into Sportlink can be one hundred percent assured that we are here to educate and advise on what is best for them. We will not try and sell anything which we feel does not suit the person or perhaps is not necessarily needed. Whilst we believe in good quality products, we also try to ensure that quality comes at a price which is justified.

How does having a running specialist bricks and mortar walk in store compare to online selling companies?
Needless to say that there are occasional times when we get asked to match some of the heavily reduced online prices for which it is impossible especially when these prices are far cheaper than what we buy in at ourselves. We will always go out of our way to give great discounts, but it does also beg the question as to how and why some of these products online are so cheap. I wrote an article a few years ago about being careful when buying from online stores, which produced a very big response where lots of people brought shoes in to show me which they had indeed purchased online saying they had bought their first pair from us and then saw the same item cheaper elsewhere. Yet for some reason they didn’t seem as good as what they got from us. On numerous occasions, I pulled the tongue back and there it was “not for resale.” It is so important to make sure that you are confident that you are getting exactly what you expect to get when buying running footwear or any other item which is required for a specific need and with this in mind, I personally know what I would do if I was the consumer.

How do you compete though when it comes to being asked to price match?
As already said, we give excellent discounts whilst also giving a brilliant customer service with lots of knowledge and experience from all our staff. We obviously have to make some degree of profit as if not we won’t be here. All the usual overheads and many outgoings do not come free. I only wish they did. However, most people understand that and really are brilliant. There is a lot of loyalty out there that’s for sure.

I also think it is fair to say that we go to great lengths when it comes to supporting local runners, running clubs and races/events with sponsorship. This also of course encompasses the Norfolk Grand Prix Series whilst also not forgetting all the charity work we do too. I look at it as being all part and parcel to providing such a super service at Sportlink whilst also thanking everyone for the continued support we get from what really is a fantastic running community.

Do you have any plans to make changes now having got to where you are at with the business after 25 years?
Yes of course. You have to be ready to change or indeed evolve . If you don’t you will end up getting left behind and back in the past. However, and first and foremost and something which will never ever change and that is our policy when it comes to always wanting to provide a fantastic service. Having my son Craig and all our brilliant staff who all just happen to be very popular local runners driving the business forward, customer service will always be guaranteed at Sportlink.

You mentioned earlier that you have run every single day since Sept 1st, 1981. How long can you keep this going?
As long as I stay fit and healthy, I intend to keep running every day. I still run twice most days. This of course is helped by the fact that I have husky and wolf type dogs who also love to run. They say dogs mirror the image of their owners. Well whilst my dogs most certainly aren’t a mirror image of me when it comes to looks, the one thing we do share is our love for running.

Picture: In the Horsford Woods.

Jaffa cake, cake or biscuit?

I very rarely eat cakes or biscuits. However, Karen Grapes flapjacks are something else. Just ask Baz Hipwell.

Neil Featherby Marathon Times

2:17:35 Berlin 1986

2:19:07 Berlin 1985

2:20:33 Norfolk 1987 (over distance by 300 metres)

TOP 3 AVERAGE = 2:19:05

2:20:47 London 1985

2:21:20 London 1986

TOP 5 AVERAGE = 2:19:50

2:22:02 Wolverhampton 1987

2:22:30 Kosice 1987

2:23:03 Hong Kong 1987

2:23:09 Deluth 1990

2:23:56 Aberdeen 1986

TOP 10 AVERAGE = 2:21:22

Also ran a 2:24 (last ever marathon in Nantes), 3 x 2:25 (Leicester, Palermo & Luton), 1 x 2:26 (Malta), 1 x 2:28 (China) and 1 x 2:29 (Norfolk).




Neil Featherby: Why Tommy Hughes should be mentioned alongside Eliud Kipchoge

Tommy Hughes at the Belfast half marathon Picture: Tommy Hughes

As I write this, I am still getting over the excitement of my old mate Tommy Hughes who has not only became the first 59 year old to run under 2:30 for a marathon, but also along with his son Eoin set a new Father and Son combined marathon World record of 4:59:22, in last Sunday's Frankfurt Marathon.

Having written about Tommy's challenge and his pretty amazing life for last Friday's Run Anglia, supplement, the response I received was pretty immense.

However, and as we now know, not only did he break the 2:30 barrier, but he well and truly smashed it with a 2:27:52 clocking, made even more remarkable due to him being just 73 days short of his 60th birthday.

If the response prior to his run was not amazing enough beforehand though, it has been overwhelming this week with him being called up by newspapers and media outlets from all over the world.

He did actually tell me last week that he was actually going for 2:25 which scared me as I had visions of him blowing up, but on the day he just settled for a steady pace (did I say steady pace?) going through half way in 74:12 and then picking it up in the second half to produce a negative split of 73:40.

Tommy really is still very much old school and didn't even wear a watch until recently and really only knows one way how to run and that is by running to feel whilst at the same time also not being scared to fail.

If he does fail, then he just picks himself up and get ready to go again such is his mindset and belief.

As I have said on many occasions, a winner never fails always believing that if they didn't succeed last time out, then they will next time.

Whereas most people reduce their training to the bear minimum during the final week before attempting to run a marathon, prior to flying out to Frankfurt, Tommy's final week preparations consisted of a cross country race for Ireland Masters seven days before where he not only won his 55 to 59 class, but also beat all those in the class below (50 to 54).

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

He then followed that up with a 20 miler on the Monday morning prior to doing what is known as the carbohydrate loading diet made famous by the great Ron Hill during the late 1960s where just one week before a marathon, a runner would run approx 20 miles at a decent pace so as to greatly lower the glycogen levels which is stored in the liver and muscle cells and then converted to glucose during exercise, and then eat minimal carbohydrates whilst following a diet which consisted mainly of just protein and fats while still training for the following three days so as to further deplete.

The final three days would then consist of just very easy running whilst consuming lots of carbohydrates and reducing protein and fat to minimum levels so as to stimulate the body to absorb and maximise liver and glycogen storage to help maintain run efficiency during those last painful few miles.

While the very top athletes nowadays run close to two hours and have no issues with what has always been known as hitting the wall, those of us who are just mere mortals, will know exactly what it is like to hang on mentally and physically during the latter stages of running 26.2 miles when the glycogen levels become very low and our body becomes more reliant upon fat as an energy source.

Fat oxidation at pace is far less efficient than glycogen hence why it becomes that much harder to maintain the given pace which more than likely felt quite comfortable early on.

At the same time also very important to run at the correct pace as the harder we run the quicker we will deplete our reserves of glycogen.

However, and while runners know the benefits of eating more carbohydrates in the build up to running a marathon, I am pretty sure that the full loading diet is used far less frequently nowadays.

Having to run 20 miles just a week beforehand and then still putting the miles in for the next three days was always open to debate as to how effective it was.

More often than not, by the time you got to the high carbohydrate phase, you would feel pretty weak for which I have to say on the occasions I tried it, I still felt pretty jaded come race day and therefore found a modified version which worked best for me.

I even gave it to Paul Evans, who used it for the first time when running in the New York marathon for which he told me he continued to use it for all his marathons after that.

Anyway, and going back to Tommy, by my reckoning he had clocked up at least 57 miles by the time he had completed his Thursday morning run before hitting the carbs for which he did say he was feeling pretty rough, but was still very confident that he was going to run well and was looking forward to standing on the start line.

Whilst Eliud Kipchoge's recent sub 2 hour marathon was pretty mind blowing, when you take into consideration that he is now at the very peak of his career and had weeks and months of funding and sports science support from an absolutely amazing team behind him, when you look back at the unbelievable rollercoaster ride which Tommy has been on, I honestly believe that his effort last Sunday is almost equal to Eliud's run.

Also take in to consideration that Tommy was almost at death's door just a couple of years ago, never mind the fact that most of his 120 miles a week training is done all on his own around the country roads of his home town of Maghera in Northern Ireland.

If not equal, then most certainly close.

Another reason why I am writing about Tommy Hughes this week, is because his story really is such a human one after all what he has gone through and of course now achieved.

Whilst it is so very inspiring to all runners of all ages I hasten to add, it can also be so very inspiring to people from all walks of life.

I have written on a number of occasions about how running can help people in so many ways for which he has not only demonstrated just how important running is to him and his life, but also demonstrated that when all may seem lost and you might feel that you have gone as low as you can go, you can still pick yourself up and even if it does not mean running a sub two hour thirty minute marathon aged nearly 60 like he has, it still demonstrates just how precious life is and that we should never ever give up.

At the same time it can also help to put things into perspective particularly when getting frustrated just because things aren't always going the way we want them to.

For those who might not have read my column last week, Tommy, in a nutshell fell from being an Olympian in 1992, to someone who then struggled to keep his life on track due to severe bouts of depression mixed with heavy alcohol consumption and smoking.

Whist there were still some very good running results mixed in intermittently with these low periods, his partner Ann, in 2016 said enough is enough forcing him to go to the doctor's. After blood tests it was confirmed that he was suffering with a condition called para-thyroidism.

After a period of hospital rest and then an operation to remove a gland in 2018, he has not looked back since and has his sights so very firmly fixed on 2020 where he not only hopes to run an even quicker marathon, but also set world best times at other distances too.

None other than Paul Evans, called me up on Monday to say that he can only stand in awe of what Tommy has achieved and went on to further say: "Tommy has run over 100 marathons at a very high standard and I first became aware of him at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, when he represented Ireland. However, to be able to still have the mental strength to motivate himself after all these years day after day and still run at such a high level is quite unbelievable to say the least."

I personally think that on the back of Tommy's rough few years and all what he went through, he now has a new lease of life and is most certainly not now going to let go of it.

Yes, truly inspirational……

One final quick footnote…. I must say a very big well done to City of Norwich athlete, Nick Earl, who finished 16th in the Toronto Marathon, two weeks ago, in 2:18:03. That's the third time under 2:20 for Nick, within the last year.

Neil Featherby – The amazing story of Tommy Hughes, a true inspiration

Neil's Friday EDP article in full.

For those who might regularly read my weekly column, they will also know that I like to write every now and again about those who I feel really are an inspiration.

One such old friend of mine most certainly epitomises the word inspiration of the very highest order.

Tommy Hughes, a very proud Irishman from Maghera, took up running aged 21, in 1981, but only due to wanting get fit so as to try and further his chances of breaking into the first team for his local Gaelic Football Club and to put it bluntly, lose some weight at the same time.

Although he didn’t break into the first team, he did indeed discover that running came natural to him for which he then decided to train for and run in the Belfast marathon the following year, finishing in a time of 3 hours, 1 minute and 26 seconds.

Whist this may have not set the World alight, what it did do was further ignite the fire in Tommy, to see just how fast he really could run.

Needless to say, he very soon discovered that it was running and not Gaelic Football, where his true natural talents lay whilst bringing his marathon time down in large chunks with a 2:35 clocking the following year, before going on to run 2:24 when winning the Derry Marathon in 1984 and then even more amazingly breaking the sub 2:20 barrier for the first time (2:19) when defending his title a further twelve months later.

Ironically, this race was then omitted from the Northern Ireland Road Race calendar for a full 28 years until being resurrected in 2013, where Tommy at the age 53, astonishingly defended his title in a time of 2:30:32.

If this was made into a film, people would say it could not happen in real life.

Nevertheless, there is so much more to this story for which I am pretty sure it could be made into a film or it most certainly would if it was a story about any other major sport.

Going back to 1985 and having now broken through the sub 2:20 barrier, races were coming with regularity and of course invitational trips overseas for the first time where in 1988, he really did see a major break through when winning the Marrakech Marathon in 2:15 followed up with further victories in Belfast in 2:19 and Melbourne in 2:18.

He was also now really pushing the training load up to well over 100 miles per week whilst also holding down a physical job, but that is the only way Tommy knows.

His nature was and always has been, that if you are going to have a go at something, then there is only one way to do it and that is to give it your all.

Needless to say this is not for everyone, but it certainly is what made him the very tough character which he most certainly is.

Races came and went and more often than not were met with success for which his thoughts had by now even turned to making the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona representing Ireland.

This was further enhanced with a win in the Dublin marathon in 1991, when producing yet another new PB of 2:14:46, albeit unfortunately just short of the qualifying time required for the Games.

Not to be undeterred though, he carried on with full focus for an all-out effort in the Marrakech marathon in January 92, where he finished 2nd, in 2:13:59 and just one second under the qualifying mark securing him that coveted place in the Irish team and of course now becoming an Olympian too.

Unfortunately, the luck of the Irish was not quite on Tommy’s side though, because as he started to push the mileage up once again in his quest to be the very best he could be at what was likely to be the very highlight of his career, he went down with a stress fracture.

Despite several opinions from the medical experts who said he would have to miss out, there was no way Tommy was going to do this and whilst I think it is fair to say he did not stand on the start line in the shape he could have been in if all had of gone to plan, he still made it and I am very proud to say that he included part of his preparations with a few days of training and staying at my place in Norwich along with a win in the City of Norwich Half Marathon, before flying out with the Irish Team.

This is also where another big part of what is the Tommy Hughes story starts.

After returning from the Olympics, I think the best way to describe it is by saying that everything felt flat and anti-climaxed for him, for which he turned to drink and even took up smoking.

As said earlier he will give his all to anything he puts his mind too. But that also means if his mind is not on it, then his focus will go towards other things.

At this point in my column, I just know I am not going to be able to do this story full justice what with space limitation, but let’s just say amongst fits and starts, he got his act together to once again win the Belfast marathon in 1998, aged 38 which of course was a full ten years on from his first victory in Northern Ireland’s capital city.

The early 2000s, also saw long periods of inactivity and low motivation mixed with one or two half hearted attempts to get his running back on track where he produced a 2:28, 6th placing in the Belfast marathon of 2008, but it was upon turning 50, in 2010, when he really got his head down again winning the Nottingham marathon in 2:29, along with a 70:31 clocking at the Peterborough Half Marathon just one month later.

Due to work commitments, he then moved to Leicester for three years in 2011 and by his own admission, his lifestyle wasn’t the best (booze, cigarettes and kebabs), the training was very much full on as he enjoyed the company of the Leicester Coritanians, who he had now joined.

During this period, not only did he produce many good race results including a couple of 2:29 finishes in the space of three weeks in the 2012 London and Belfast marathons (8th place), but of course the win mentioned earlier in the Derry Marathon in 2013.

However it was soon after this win that things started to go downhill again feeling constantly fatigued all the time whereby not only was his race performances becoming affected, but also his general feelings and enthusiasm towards life, which resulted in him hitting the booze again.

So much so that he was drinking a full bottle of vodka every day.

In a nutshell, he didn’t feel good about himself for which he almost hit rock bottom before his partner Ann, said enough is enough and forced him to go to the Dr’s for a blood check where he was diagnosed with para-thyroidism, a condition which is where a thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of parathyroid hormone causing the blood calcium levels to rise, leading to low bone density and excessive fatigue and weakness.

He was very quickly rushed off to hospital where treatment was immediately administered and whilst he was given a number of drugs to help resolve the problem, he was also told that he would have to stay on the medication for the rest of his life or alternatively have an operation to remove the faulty gland.

It was a no brainer for Tommy, plumping for surgery which took place last year in 2018.

Astoundingly, and less than two months after the operation there he was back racing again in the Malaga Half Marathon where he helped the Irish Masters team win bronze medals.

As said earlier, trying to do Tommy’s story full justice is impossible, but having turned 59 in January, his training and racing really has been one of success, whilst not only winning races, but setting new records along the way for his age group.

He regularly bangs out 120 miles of running each week in training and amongst lots of success this year, he finished 67th overall in the Rotterdam marathon in a new World best for a 59 year old by over four minutes, finishing in 2 hours, 30 mins and just 15 secs, before following that up with a win outright in the Newry half marathon in 71:57.

This Sunday, he lines up with his son Eoin, aged 35, in the Frankfurt marathon where not only is Tommy aiming to become the first 59 year old albeit less than three months short of his 60th birthday, to run under 2 hours 30 mins, but also set a new father and son World record which currently stands at 5 hours, 2 mins and 11secs.

With regards to new World records, I have a feeling that not only will they do this, but 2020 is most certainly going to be a year where Tommy Hughes re-writes the record books when it comes to running and racing at 60 plus years of age.

He is such an awesome guy for which I cannot praise him enough. I asked him if he was happy for me to write about his personal issues for which he in true Tommy Hughes fashion, quite simply said “yes of course. If my story helps just one person, then it is job done.”

There is no two ways about it, what you see is most certainly what you get which of course is complete honesty.

Having an addictive personality, can be awkward at times, but and as proved by Tommy, if you have the determination you can not only turn your life around during any dark periods, whilst at the same time also proving that if you can retain your drive belief and determination right into later life, then even the unthinkable is possible just as proved by a certain Kenyan athlete a couple of weeks ago when breaking the two hour marathon barrier.

As for just inspiring one person as Tommy put it, I am pretty sure that the Tommy Hughes story could be an inspiration to so many people from so many walks of life. Me for one!

Neil Featherby

Sportlink Grand Prix 2020

Full fixtures for the Sportlink Grand Prix Series 2020

26/01/20 - bam nuttall FREETHORPE TEN ** -

16/02/20 - VALENTINES 10K -




24/05/20 - HOLT 10K -

10/06/20 - WROXHAM 5K ** -

28/06/20 - HUMPTY DUMPTY 10K **-

24/07/20 - WORSTEAD 5M -

23/08/20 - DEREHAM 5K -

13/09/20 - JOLLY JAGUARS 10K -

**Norfolk County Championship Races.


Please direct any queries etc to:

Sportlink Running & Fitness….so very proud to sponsor the Grand Prix series whilst supporting Norfolk athletics and road running.

Neil Featherby: Man or machine behind the man?









Whilst I always have plenty to say when it comes to running, there is only one subject and two people who I can talk about for my column this week and that is the marathon world best times of Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei who between them turned the marathon running world upside down within the space of just over 24 hours last weekend with their amazing performances of 1:59:40 in Vienna and 2:14:04 in the Chicago marathon.

Like so many others, I was up bright and early on Saturday morning to get a run in before settling down to watch the sub two hour challenge which was being screened live on Youtube only to realise half way through that I had a flu jab appointment booked at my doctors for 9:11am which was going to clash with what would be the finish of one of athletics greatest all time feats.

I looked at my other half, Steph, and said: "Can you believe it? History in the making and I will be having a flu injection."

As per usual, she calmed things down when saying "watch it on your mobile phone" which of course I hadn't thought of.

Needless to say and typically of me, I left it to the very last moment before leaving home only to discover that my battery was almost flat.

Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to break two hours in a marathon in Vienna. Picture: PA

I was willing it to stay on whilst glued to it right to the point of sitting down in the surgery while the nurse gave me my yearly inoculation and then just as I was walking out at 1 hour 57mins and 50secs into the run, the battery died.

I was swearing my head off all the way back to the car shouting to Steph to quickly get it on her phone.

This she did with the race clock saying 1:59::00 enabling us to see his finishing effort as he waved to the crowds prior to crossing the finish line with 19 secs still to spare.

Even though this will not count as an official time, the fact being is that someone has now managed to run a marathon under two hours.

However and whilst it took one man to actually complete this challenge, there were indeed so many other people involved who were all part and parcel to what was perfect organisation of a perfect run and with this in mind, I suppose you have to say that it all starts with those people in the background who enable such projects to take place.

In other words, those who provide the funding and scientific back up so as to also make for the perfect team when it comes to the crossing of every t and the dotting of every i while also considering every single variable.

Then of course all the 41 pacemakers who were involved at various points during the 26.2 miles who not only paced the run to perfection, but positioned themselves in a V formation so as to cut down on wind resistance as they followed the lead car directly in front of them which further buffered any wind and controlled pace with a projected laser which sent a beam of light on to the road for them to follow.

Needless to say his diet was also very carefully monitored to ensure that he was eating all the right foods to meet energy requirements going into the run along with a special carbohydrate based drink being handed out to him at regular intervals so as to keep a supply of fuel going into his body to help reduce the risk of any drop off through glycogen depletion during the latter stages of the marathon.

As for the weather, which of course and as yet, the scientists cannot control, needless to say they had done enough research to suggest that come the day of the run, the conditions in Vienna, would be perfect for such an attempt. They got this spot on of course too.

From the purists point of view, there will always be those who say this is not a true reflection of what a world record really stands for, which I can go along with myself. But whatever way you look at it, he and they have proved it can be done which will no doubt now open it up for others to try and follow suit.

Leaving perhaps the most controversial aspect of the run to last and that being the on-going discussions which now encompasses his footwear which apparently is still surrounded in a degree of secrecy.

Without going into too much technical detail, the shoes he wore for this run were an upgrade of an already existing model which were designed for his first attempt of breaking the sub 2 hour barrier in 2017, which allegedly gives an advantage of between 4 and 5 percent.

These shoes are constructed with reactionary plates (probably carbon), special foam and fluid filled air pods in the forefoot so as to provide impact dispersion, energy return and propulsion.

With all this secrecy and so called investigations surrounding what in truth is just an update of a previous model, I am more than sure that the shoe manufacturer will be loving all the hype and may even be manufacturing it (the hype) themselves.

Nevertheless, I do honestly believe that on this occasion these shoes will have definitely provided a further benefit to this awesome run and before anyone says anything, no we don't sell them at Sportlink.

As it happens, carbon fibre plates are in fact nothing new and I can remember other manufacturers using them as far back as in the very early 1990s before moving on to something else.

Whilst I am also sure that people will spend their money on them in the hope that they really do give an increase in performance as stated on the tin, or perhaps better put on the box, all the other brands will also produce very quickly their own version such is the competition between the manufacturers never mind the athletes.

Technology and science has most certainly gone to some amazing lengths to help improve standards at the sharp end and will of course continue to do so.

However, I cannot help, but wonder if all the technology and backing which went into the sub 2 hour project had have existed back in the day of some of the truly marathon greats of the past, just how quick they may have been too.

For instance and using two examples such as Ron Hill who ran 2:09 in 1970 which was considered by many as a true world best at the time and Steve Jones who ran 2:07 in 1985, apart from being very talented and pushing themselves to their very limits in training and racing, I think the nearest they got to any science was through occasional periods of altitude training and the consumption of a high level of carbohydrates in their diet three days prior to a marathon. Also known as the carbohydrate loading diet. Ron Hill was also an innovator when it came to experimenting with specialised run wear clothing for which I am sure he would have been in his element if competing nowadays.

I know it is all hypothetical, but when weighing up the supposed advantage from the shoes and all the science of today, it does make you think just how much further it can all go to the point where you may have to ask the question, is it the man or the machine behind the man?

If the sub 2 hour marathon was not enough excitement for one weekend, Brigid Kosgei's, ladies, world marathon best time run in the Chicago Marathon, the following day has to be just as mind blowing. Whereas Eluid's average pace per mile worked out at 4 mins 34 secs, her average minute per mile pace was just under 5 mins and 7 secs. She also took over four minutes off her previous best time of 2:18:20, when running in this year's London marathon on April 28th. Ironically she also wore a pair of the same specialist shoes for her record run, albeit perhaps not quite as bespoke as built for Kipchoge.

Up until June 1964, she would have held the men's world record with that time and whereas it has taken 55 years from that date for a man to go under two hours, I am a making prediction here and now that what with all the modern day science and financial support from big businesses, it will be less than 25 years before a woman also does the same.

EDP October 18th 2019: Neil Featherby




NEIL FEATHERBY – My take on Salazar and drugs in sport









Mo Farah, right, and Galen Rupp with disgraced coach Alberto Salazar Picture: PA

I have had to give this one a lot of thought, but after a matter of a fact conversation with Mark Armstrong about the ban given to Alberto Salazar this week, he suggested it would make for a good feature.

Neil Featherby out running with his beloved Oslo - who sadly passed away this week Picture: Mark Hewlett

I do not condone the taking of drugs one bit. I detest the thought of anyone taking substances, be it sport or otherwise. The only way to get anywhere near to stopping it is to hand out life bans for anyone found guilty.

However, Mark also asked me if I have witnessed drug taking in sport and if I had, would I also mention it.

The answer was sadly, yes. While I genuinely believe it is only a minority who do, I am not naive enough to think every top athlete is whiter than white, however much we want them to be. That has been proved too many times with Russia once again facing strong accusations It is awful and just knocks all genuine lovers of sport backwards each time something like this happens.

I remember returning from a run on the day Ben Johnson was exposed back in 1988, and there was Paul Evans on the phone asking me if I had heard the news. I hadn't, but when he told me what had happened, at the time I was gutted. Why? Because even though there had always been rumours, we just don't want them to be true.

Finding out that Salazar, who was not only an awesome athlete (on the track, cross country and as a marathon runner), as well as being a very knowledgeable coach, has also been cheating to such extent, absolutely saddens me. Worse still by the manipulation of some of his athletes. You just don't want to hear it never mind believe it.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, in his prime, he was seen to almost run himself into the ground such was his determination to win. He won the New York marathon three times, although one of my favourite races of all time was the awesome finish he had with fellow American athlete Dick Beardsley, when winning in the Boston Marathon of 1982, a race which has since been given the title of 'Duel in The Sun'.

Nevertheless, was he himself on drugs when competing at such a high standard? Was he even drug tested during that time or after the races? I certainly don't know the answer, but as he wasn't banned you have to assume that he wasn't or unless of course they now back-track the results.

PUBLISHED: 13:09 03 October 2019 - Mark Armstrong EDP


We are now pleased to attach the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 to Race 11.  As we’ve had an overwhelming 29450 runners so far, we have just displayed the TOP 10 finishers in each category.

Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2019,  therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 7 finishes.


A full set of results are available upon request.

There is now ONLY 1 Race remaining in the Series :  East Coast 10K on 13th  October organised by Great Yarmouth Road Runners.

As you will see, the final top 3 in most categories is still very dependant on the last race.

.SPORTLINK NIGHT OF CELEBRATIONS:  We will be hosting our End of Season social evening on Friday 15th November at The Assembly House, Norwich.  The ticket prices are as follows:

£17.50 per head and this includes a 2 Course Hot  Buffet with a wide selection, Presentation Ceremony for the Grand Prix Series, County Postal Marathon & Road Runner of the Year and music for dancing to the fabulous sounds of a DJ.

This evening is OPEN to ALL runners, family & friends, NOT just those that have won a prize.

Tickets are selling fast … don’t delay and be disappointed.

If you would like to join us for what promises to be a wonderful evening of celebrations, personal achievements and special awards, then please go to the link:

If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – please do not hesitate to contact me on this email address ONLY please.

NORFOLK COUNTY POSTAL MARATHON.  We are still accepting entries – even if you have already run a marathon this year and intend doing another before 31st October, please let us have your results and we can amend it if necessary.



Pat Brightman

SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series  Administrator.










Reviewed by Chris Mickleburgh - Sportlink.

Chris says,

I’ve been running in this shoe for a few months now. The first thing I noticed when putting this shoe on is how it is both very stable and supportive yet also quite lightweight. Using Saucony’s cushioned yet responsive Everun midsole technology, the Omni Iso 2 delivers a plush feeling ride underfoot. It does so whilst still being able to handle picking up the pace without feeling like you are running in a heavy or cumbersome shoe. I put it through its paces, and it felt surprisingly responsive getting down to low 5-minute mile pace.

Fit wise, it does feel wide so when I’m tightening the shoes up particularly at the base of the tongue, I have to pull the laces tight creating a ruck in the fabric. This doesn’t affect performance as I can’t feel it running. I wouldn’t say I have particularly narrow feet so people with wide feet will like this. The ISO fit does feel good however wrapping the foot and creating a sock like fit. Coupled with a very padded tongue and heel it makes for a very comfortable shoe.

The support in the show is given through a large medial post. This gives it more support than its younger brother the Saucony Guide and makes it an ideal shoe for moderate to severe overpronators. For the indecisive runners among you then you’ll be pleased to know there is only one colourway for men and one colourway for ladies. I’ve been happily using this shoe for my easy runs rather than sessions or races, and once I’m back marathon training this shoe will be ideal to take out on long runs due to its comfort and high level of cushioning.










Having recently sat down at Sportlink to discuss our forthcoming 25th Anniversary celebrations and 25 challenges, Nick Applin our brand manager and Chris Mickleburgh our events manager suggested that one of these challenges could be a virtual run.
Being a little bit old school, I said “go on, tell me more” for which the store manager Craig (my son) laughed whilst also looking at me as if to say, you really do need to start thinking about taking a step back and let us run this show.
Needless to say taking a step back is not quite on the agenda yet. Perhaps in another 25 years’ time.
Anyway and having now been told exactly what virtual running is all about, I am all for it. Particularly as it is open to all standards.
At the same time and talking of all standards, whilst I don’t see the more established and elite runners perhaps getting too excited by this, we will most certainly be having plenty of other challenges during the next few months which will test even them.
However, and for what will now be the Sportlink 25th Anniversary Virtual Run Challenges, we have set three distances of 25k, 100k and 200k which has to completed across the month of October and of course depending upon which one of the three challenges each entrant decides to go for.
Why have we set three different challenges at differing distances?
Well for those who are just starting out or even thinking about having a go at running and just need that little extra bit of motivation, we think 25k spread across 31 days is perfect for the beginner and novice. It will work out on average of about 3.5 miles per week, so it should be very doable, especially if they mix walking with a little jogging.
Then with our 100k Challenge, the average works out to just 2 miles a day. Not that it means you have to run every single day of course and this should appeal to those who have been running regularly for a while covering between 10 and 15 miles per week.
And then finally, our super challenge of 200k which will hopefully excite those who have been consistently running a weekly mileage of around 20 to 25 miles a week. This challenge will be looking to extend them by just another 3 to 8 miles per week, so all in all there is something for everyone who take part to get their teeth into.
Needless to say it does not matter if you go over the distance, but just as long as you log and record your activity during the month of October, on Strava, Garmin Connect, Polar Flow or any other platform you use and then send your screenshots of your runs to at the end of the month.
I really do think the idea of these “Virtual Runs” are excellent, especially as It does not matter whereabouts in the World you are or where you do it. Just as long as you get signed up (details to be announced soon) and are ready to get going on October 1st. Walk it, jog it or of course run whilst doing it in your own time and of course wherever you like. Even treadmills count.
For all those who do enter, I hope you enjoy the challenge and at the same time thank you for not only entering, but for also being part of our 25th birthday celebrations. Oh and of course, I must not forget to tell you that there is a really nice medal at the end of it all for which I must say a big thank you to Justin from Medals For All, for the design and production of these awards.
Lastly, and for those who know us well at Sportlink, they will also know that not only are we so very passionate about running, but we are also heavily involved with raising money for good causes throughout the year. With this in mind, monies from this challenge will be going to two of our favourites charities, Nelson’s Journey and The Hallswood Animal Sanctuary. They are two excellent causes and if anyone would like to know more, then please do contact us for details.
Good Luck and of course good running……
Neil Featherby.
#25thanniversary #virtualchallenge #25k #100k #200k

Shoe of the Month – Hoka One One Clifton 6

Reviewed by Pete Johnson  - Sportlink

What can I say? In over 30 years of running I have tried many types and brands of shoe, many of them claiming to be the next best thing.


The Hoka brand is a totally new “concept” shoe, they’ve been with us at Sportlink for about 5 years. They may look different, but boy do they work. The curved sole unit known as the Metarocker provides a smooth transition from heel strike to toe off, reducing initial impact and propelling the runner to the next step. The heel to toe drop is 5mm which may seem low but due to the rocking motion, it needs no extra strain on the Achilles as other low-offset shoes might. And don’t worry about the look of them; you’re not on a platform as the foot sits in the midsole rather than conventionally on it. As a neutral shoe the Clifton provides a surprising amount of stability and I have found this shoe works for me as well as some of the more supportive shoes in my collection. There are other shoes in the Hoka range, ask the staff at Sportlink if the Clifton isn’t for you.


On a run they are a dream. I don’t know I’m wearing them, and the miles fly by -  they really do help you to run. My favourite thing to do in them is a recovery run, when you just need to get some easy miles in and not want to work hard or think about it too much. They are what I consider a high-mileage shoe with the aid of the Metarocker and the high level of cushioning, they are good for shorter runs and speed work due to their lightweight nature.


We are now pleased to attach the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 to Race 10.  As we have an overwhelming 2620 runners so far, we have just displayed the TOP 20 finishers in each category with the best of your 7 Races.  So if you have done 8,9 or 10 Races, then your lowest score(s) have been deducted.

Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2019,  therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 7 finishes

A full set of results are available upon request

There are now ONLY 2 Races remaining in the Series :   Jolly Jaguars 10K on 22nd September – SOLD OUT, but operating a waiting list and  East Coast 10K on 13 October -  entries are open also at Total Race Timing.


Congratulations to the 11 runners who have completed ALL 10 races to date



SPORTLINK NIGHT OF CELEBRATIONS:  We will be hosting our End of Season social evening on Friday 15th November at The Assembly House, Norwich.  The ticket prices are as follows and are ON SALE NOW.

Ticket prices are £17.50 per head and this includes a 2 Course Hot  Buffet with a wide selection, Presentation Ceremony for the Grand Prix Series, County Postal Marathon & Road Runner of the Year and music for dancing to the fabulous sounds of a DJ

This evening is OPEN to ALL runners, family & friends, NOT just those that have won a prize.

If you would like to join us for what promises to be a wonderful evening of celebrations, personal achievements and special awards, then please go to the link:


If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – please do not hesitate to contact me on this email address ONLY please.


NORFOLK COUNTY POSTAL MARATHON.  We are still accepting entries – even if you have already run a marathon this year and intend doing another before 31st October, please let us have your results and we can amend it if necessary.



Pat Brightman

SPORTLINK GP Series Race Administrator



The Sportlink Running & Fitness Grand Prix Series is a series of established road races at a variety of distances across the county of Norfolk.

Anyone can take part in the Grand Prix Series; members of clubs affiliated to Athletics Norfolk, members of clubs not affiliated to Athletics Norfolk, unattached runners - all are welcome. You don't even need to live in Norfolk - just enter the Grand Prix races in the normal way and then look out for your name in the Series standings ...

Please direct any queries etc to:

Sportlink Running & Fitness….so very proud to sponsor the Grand Prix series whilst supporting Norfolk athletics and road running.

Shoe of the Month – On Cloudstratus









Reviewed by Chris Mickleburgh - Sportlink

Chris says…

The On Cloudstratus is the first On shoe to have a dual layer Cloudtec system of sequential Cloud elements to cushion the impact of running at any pace. These are directly connected to each other under the heel of the shoe for a cushioned landing when hitting the ground.


This is especially good if like me you are a bit of a heel or midfoot striker. Despite this being one of the most cushioned On shoes I have tried on it still isn’t as soft a feeling as other brands out there. I did like how the toe box of the Stratus, which like the Swift, is nice and wide and doesn’t constrict the foot at all even when it gets hot and my foot expands. The forefoot has a nice firm push off so you can pick up the pace if you wanted to.


The transition from the dual layer of clouds at the back to the single layer at the front is smooth and almost feels like you are being helped to get up onto your toes. The speedboard in the shoe has a lot to do with this as it helps to encourage you to move naturally through your gait cycle. Having been suffering recently with a sore Achilles I found the heel to toe drop of 8mm more forgiving than the slightly smaller drop of the Cloudflyer and Cloudsurfer which I use a lot. The external TPU heel-counter along with the rippled insole which fires up proprioceptors give great stability, meaning it is appropriate for both neutral runners, and over-pronators. In my opinion there aren’t many shoes that can give such a responsive feel whilst providing so much cushioning. I currently have a lot of shoes on the go but there is definitely space for this pair.











We regularly feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A. 

This month it's our newest team member in the spotlight - Straight talking Jodie Causer.

How is your season going Jodie?
Really well. Course PB's in the last few races.

Have you had any serious injuries?
No. Hopefully it will stay that way.

What is your favourite race distance?
10miles and half marathons.

Favourite pre-race food?
Muesli and a banana.

Do you have any post-race recovery tips, food drink, rest?
Protein, carbs and a few days rest. Lots of water.

Do you have a superstitious colour or piece of kit?

If you were able to do any other sport, what would you choose?

If you had an idea weather condition and time of day to run, what would it be?
Cloudy with light rain. 9.00am - Breakfast has gone down well.

What shoe are running in currently?
Brooks Ghost 12 and On Cloudflow.

Who’s your running hero?
Paula Radcliffe.

What’s the best thing about working at Sportlink?
You get to talk about running all day. They are a great team to work with.

Jaffa cake, cake or biscuit?









We are now pleased to announce the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 to Race 8.  As we have an overwhelming 2500 runners so far, we have just displayed the TOP 20 finishers in each category with the best of your 7 Races.  So if you have done all 8 Races, then your lowest score has been deducted.


Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2019,  therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 7 finishes

A full set of results are available upon request

There are now ONLY 4 Races remaining in the Series : Worstead 5m (which is SOLD OUT, Dereham 5K (which is SOLD OUT, but operating a waiting list), Jolly Jaguars 10K on 22nd September – entries open at Total Race Timing and  East Coast 10K on 13 October -  entries are open also at Total Race Timing.


SPORTLINK NIGHT OF CELEBRATIONS:  We will be hosting our End of Season social evening on Friday 15th November at The Assembly House, Norwich.  The ticket prices are as follows and are ON SALE NOW.

Limited Early Bird Specials £12.50 per head, thereafter £17.50 per head and this includes a 2 Course Hot  Buffet with a wide selection, Presentation Ceremony for the Grand Prix Series, County Postal Marathon & Road Runner of the Year and music for dancing to the fabulous sounds of a DJ

This evening is OPEN to ALL runners, family & friends, NOT just those that have won a prize.

If you would like to join us for what promises to be a wonderful evening of celebrations, personal achievements and special awards, then please go to the link:

If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – please do not hesitate to contact me on this email address ONLY please. 

NORFOLK COUNTY POSTAL MARATHON.  We are still accepting entries – even if you have already run a marathon this year and intend doing another before 31st October, please let us have your results and we can amend it if necessary.


Pat Brightman

SPORTLINK GP Series Race Administrator


THE RIGHT ADVICE – The importance of wearing good running shoes for running.

The importance of wearing good running shoes for running.

Whilst the wearing of good quality running shoes do not cure injuries, they certainly do help to reduce the risk of impact injuries associated with running particularly with those who are new to this very popular past time. More people than ever are now taking up running particularly on the back the Park Runs which has seen people of all ages, shapes, and sizes turning up on a Saturday morning to run, jog, or just take a brisk walk with hundreds of others. However, and whilst it is important to wear good footwear for running, it is also very important to ensure that when purchasing a pair of running shoes they are the correct type for you and therefore just as important to seek out a specialist running store which is staffed by experienced runners. We have a saying at Sportlink “We don’t just hear what you say, we feel what you say”. We also provide a very thorough Gait Analysis so as to be able to not only look at levels of pronation (the inward rolling of the foot upon making contact with the ground) or indeed under pronation, but also look for other bodily imbalances which we feel could potentially lead to issues and specific running-related niggles. Once we have done this, road running shoes designed for training tend to fall into three different categories i.e. 1. Motion Control/Maximum Support 2. Structured and Guidance Cushioning and 3. Neutral running shoes for those who just require cushioning.

To elaborate a little further on this and put these shoes into their categories: -

Motion Control/Maximum Support

These type of shoes are designed for the severe over-pronator so as to slow down excessive pronation and inward rolling of the foot and will have been manufactured with materials which are slightly firmer along the medial section of the midsole commonly termed as dual-density or even tri-density so as to prevent collapsing of the shoe as the foot rolls excessively inwards. However, the level of support required can differ when it comes to bodyweight i.e. someone weighing 8 stone is likely to need less support in the midsole than someone twice their size.

Structured/Guidance Cushioning

This type of shoe is probably the most popular of all as whilst it offers the more cushioned feel of the neutral shoe, it also provides a little bit of support for those that border on being neutral, or have a degree of mild over-pronation (sometimes just on one foot). Whilst these shoes do have a small post built into the medial section of the midsole, it is far less noticeable and prominent to that of the more supportive motion control shoes.

For those who weigh in excess of 13 stone yet are relatively neutral, this type of shoe may also help to reduce the rate of midsole breakdown along the medial section of the midsole particularly for those who are training for the longer distances and may pronate more during the latter part of a long run.

Neutral shoes

Needless to say, neutral shoes are fully cushioned shoes without any firmer materials or posts built into the midsoles at specific points in respect of medial support allowing for a softer feel underfoot and a degree of more flexibility.

It is also worth noting that many of the manufacturers are now producing some very highly technical single-density materials which respond to the pressure of the foot whereby it will react under certain conditions and pressures negating the need for built-in firmer materials into the midsole construction. For instance, at the start of a run, we may be a little more up on our toes with a bit more of a spring in our step, but after a few miles, the tendency may lead to a slightly reduced stride length and more impact around the heel area causing more pronation of the foot.

So What Makes a Good Road Running Shoe

So now we have determined the differences between the types of shoes, what does actually make for a good road running shoe when in many cases they all look similar on the shelves (albeit different colours). It is all to do with the materials which go into the midsole construction whereby they may all look very similar in terms of depth under-foot, the truth is that some of the foams and specific technologies provide far more protection than others as well as holding shape retention for many more miles. A few years ago if you went for a very lightweight shoe then the likelihood is that the shock absorption properties would not be very good and the shoe would be more suited for the faster runner looking for racing shoes. However, during the last few years, many brands have now produced lightweight materials which certainly do offer high levels of cushioning and shock absorption, but always ask the staff as to what has gone into the construction before buying a lighter weight shoe. Be aware that light-weight natural shoes and those determined as Free Running shoes, whilst feeling comfortable will not always feel so comfortable after a few miles of running in them especially on harder surfaces. Also be aware that if you do try out a natural and minimal running shoe, the heel lift will be much lower than that of a normal training shoe for which you may well experience some tightness in your calf muscles and Achilles tendons until you are more used to them.

Are certain brands better than others?

Most people have their preferred brands, but all established running manufacturers have built up their reputation after several years of being at the forefront of producing high-quality footwear with their own specialist technology designed to protect and give comfort for all those many miles of running. First and foremost, find out what type of shoes suit your running style and biomechanics best and then try all the brands on. The gait analysis will determine this and once you have done so make sure you get the chance to have a run on the treadmill and preferably outside of the store so as to get a true feel under-foot with regards cushioning, comfort and support if required. Then after trying them all on, hopefully, one should stand out above all the others. If one pair feels better than the rest, then the likelihood is that this is the shoe for you. If none of them do, then another one of our sayings at Sportlink is “if in doubt, better to leave it out.”

Trail shoes and Off-Road Shoes

Trail shoes are designed with deeper tread for more grip when running off-road and on uneven surfaces and of course when also wet and muddy. The uppers are also likely to be more supportive so as to hold the foot in place and keep it stable when twisting and turning. For hill running the midsoles are also likely to be of a lower profile so as to reduce the risk of turning the foot particularly on steep descents. Many of the manufacturers are now producing hybrid shoes which enable the runner to mix up the terrain so as to take in off-road and road sections during the course of a run.

Racing Shoes

Only for the elite? Well not necessarily, but they are much lighter and firmer for which the emphasis is on speed and feel of the ground underfoot which means far less shock absorption and support. They are also much narrower just like a track spike so bear in mind if running longer distances your feet may swell a little and expand during the run. In truth, unless you are one of those runners at the front of the field or certainly weighing under 12 stone and determined to go for PB’s and feel race shoes will give you that extra edge, then it might be better to go for one of the lighter road running shoes whereby you can still retain the extra cushioning which will certainly be required in distances over 10 miles.

Cost of Purchasing a good running shoe

The saying you get what you pay for is not necessarily correct especially if you have spent a lot of money on shoes which are not designed for your running style. As mentioned earlier in this article, it is all to do with the materials which have gone into the construction of the midsole for which we try to explain the differences between a very light fluffy foam (for the want of a better word) and a more substantial foam (along with other materials) which will not only give more shock absorption but will also last longer. However, this still does not mean that you have to spend hundreds of pounds to get a high quality running shoe. At Sportlink, we suggest that if you spend somewhere between £70 and £100 then you can be fairly confident that you have walked away with a shoe which should give you at least 500 miles (some shoe companies disagree with this saying less) of comfort, support, and protection from the impact forces of running. Needless to say there are many shoes above this cost, but the differences between a shoe costing £80 and £120 is far less than what a shoe costing £80 as opposed to £50 is. However and most importantly, it is the word comfort which is always the most important box to tick as what is the point of purchasing a shoe that ticks all the specific boxes, but still, don’t feel comfortable.

Running is simple and a pretty natural past time and once into it, most people tend to get hooked. There are lots of running gadgets and brilliant accessories on the market, but always remember it is the shoes on your feet which is the most important part of a runner’s equipment.

Two final footnotes: -

  1. Running Shoes are designed for running. To use them for other activities will cause abnormal wear and break down to the uppers and midsoles.
  2. Whilst the gait analysis equipment might suggest that you have over-pronation, if you have previously had or indeed feel better in a well structured neutral shoe, then despite what the GA may suggest and as said earlier, comfort is the most important commodity. I over-pronate quite badly through my right-foot but have always preferred neutral shoes. If at any time I start to feel a niggle coming on which I consider to be down to my imbalances (pelvic tilt/leg length difference), it is then when I will wear a shoe with a little structure for a few days until things settle down. Bear in mind that I normally run twice a day, seven days a week for which I do also alternate shoes. Some experts suggest that alternating running shoes is a good thing to do whilst others will always say stay with what you know works for you. You the wearer of the shoe or shoes (if you like to alternate) are the most important person when it comes to selection and whilst experience really is sometimes the best way to learn, if it feels right, then go with it.

Neil Featherby.

Sportlink Running.












Reviewed by Daniel Skinner - Sportlink

Dan says…
The Glycerin is Brooks’ premium cushioned neutral shoe and that is clear as soon as you put the shoe on your foot! With super soft "DNA LOFT FOAM" from heel to toe and a soft upper, everything about the Glycerin screams plush!

I have owned a lot of shoes, but this must be the softest of them all. It is ideal for those longer runs where you want a comfortable shoe to look after your legs but is equally light enough that picking up the pace doesn’t feel like hard work. The softness does mean it isn’t the most stable for those who over pronate, but if you are a neutral runner looking for cushioning, the Glycerin is certainly worth a look.

The toe box is generous, but the 3D Fit Print upper still gives a snug feeling on the foot. I personally like a lot of room around my toes, so the width feels great, but the heel is so padded that I don’t feel like I am coming out of the shoe at all.

Brooks have created a very smooth transition zone between the heel and forefoot with the mid- and out-sole grooves, meaning that push off feels natural and you don’t get the ‘slappy’ feeling that so often comes from such a soft heel.
In summary, the Glycerin is a very comfortable shoe which adds a touch of luxury to the longer runs!

#brooks #glycerin17 #sportlinkrunningfamily

Neil Featherby: Runners must make sure to take precautions against the warmer weather at this time of year









What with the sudden change in temperatures, it is so easy to get caught out whilst out running and suddenly finding that you are struggling far more than normal due to the heat.

When we run, our body temperature rises, even more so when running in warm weathers, whereby the cooling actions of the body diverts blood to the skin surface to help dissipate heat, causing the body to sweat.

However in warmer weather, particularly when the humidity is much higher, the body cannot cool down due to the difficulty in evaporation of the sweat. These actions also result in less blood for the working muscles, meaning the heart has to work harder to maintain effort.

Sensibility says slow down, but many runners especially those who have trained hard for a race will bust a gut trying to maintain planned pace, for which problems can most certainly arise and some very serious if not careful.

With the extra daylight hours at this time of year, try to get out early morning or evening when it is a little cooler. Pick routes where you know there will be plenty of shade; I like running in the woods.

Wear clothing which is light and further helps wicks moisture away from the body and if, like me, you are bald then a lightweight cap is also advisable.

Soak it with water before putting it on your head.

What with the greater knowledge about skin protection nowadays, use a good quality sunscreen and, most importantly, make sure you are hydrated before you go out; even have a small drink just before leaving and, of course, take one with you.

Needless to say if it‘s a long run then make sure you have enough fluid to help see you through the run.

Fluid losses depend upon a number of factors such as the conditions, intensity of effort and a number of individual characteristics such as body weight and level of fitness, but in very warm and humid conditions, it can easily be well over a litre of fluid.

Electrolyte sports drinks are best, but be sure the concentration is correct i.e. six to seven per cent max. Drink small amounts at regular intervals and don’t wait till you are thirsty as that is when it is too late.

Going back to racing, many years ago I felt I was in the best shape I had ever been in for a particular marathon in Minnesota, with all my splits worked out for what would have been a 2:16 marathon PB.

Unfortunately on the day the temperatures soared well up into the 80sF by the start time of the race and despite going through half way on schedule (68:08), it really was game over just after 20 miles.

The fact that I held on to pace for so long and finished in ninth place (2:23:09) in an impressive international field, showed how fit I actually was.

However, when I crossed the finish line, I was staggering all over the place and was pretty incoherent which resulted in me being taken away and hooked up to a drip for the next few hours needing four bags of saline before being released.

When you are fit, it is so easy to think you are superhuman, which can be even more of a danger.

2:17 marathon runner Neil Featherby.










We are now pleased to attach the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 to Race 7.


Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2019,  therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 7 finishes

A full set of results are available upon request.

Don’t forget to make a note of the Celebration Evening on Friday 15th November – this is NOT just for Prize Winners, but a social event for everyone.  Further details will be available shortly.

If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – please do not hesitate to contact me on this email address ONLY please.


The last few weeks has seen several Marathons – so let's have your entry NOW, if you do another before 31st October – send that in too.

Remember, you have to be in it – to win it – or pick up Silver/Bronze.  It doesn’t matter if you’re pleased with your time or not – you’ve all achieved that medal for 26.2 miles.



All other emails addresses I use are so busy, that I may not pick your entry up, so have set this new address up for the 2019 entries.

I DO NOT ACCEPT ENTRIES, with a website link – it is your responsibility to print/attach or whatever the result

ONLY CERTIFIED COURSES, are recognised – off road/trail marathons are not included, nor is 26.2 miles of an ultra.

So, I look forward to receiving your entries shortly and keep me out of mischief for a little while … until some more SPORTLINK GRAND PRIX SERIES results come in.

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me on:

Pat Brightman

SPORTLINK Grand Prix Race Administrator










We are now pleased to attach the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 to Race 6.  As we’ve had an overwhelming 2174 individual runners so far, we have just displayed the TOP 20 finishers in each category for the 6 races to date.


Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2019,  therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 7 finishes

Congratulations to the 17 runners who have completed ALL 6 Races to date. 

HUMPTY DUMPTY 10K is Sunday 30th June – Entries are still available, via

 Entries are now open for the following races and filling fast  -  Worstead 5m, Dereham 5K and Jolly Jaguars 10K

A full set of results are available upon request.

Just one last matter, don’t forget to make a note of the Celebration Evening on Friday 15th November – this is NOT just for Prize Winners, but a social event for everyone.  Further details will be available shortly.

If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – please do not hesitate to contact me on this email address ONLY please.

 WARNING  Over the next 2 weeks we have 2 SPORTLINK GRAND PRIX SERIES races – in addition, I am in the process of organising the HUMPTY DUMPTY 10K – therefore the results for Races 7 & 8 may not be released as quick as I would have liked – please bear with me.  Thank You.


The last few weeks has seen several Marathons – so let's have your entry NOW, if you do another before 31st October – send that in too.

Remember, you have to be in it – to win it – or pick up Silver/Bronze.  It doesn’t matter if you’re pleased with your time or not – you’ve all achieved that medal for 26.2 miles.



All other emails addresses I use are so busy, that I may not pick your entry up, so have set this new address up for the 2019 entries.

I DO NOT ACCEPT ENTRIES, with a website link – it is your responsibility to print/attach or whatever the result

ONLY CERTIFIED COURSES, are recognised – off road/trail marathons are not included, nor is 26.2 miles of an ultra.


So, I look forward to receiving your entries shortly and keep me out of mischief for a little while … until some more SPORTLINK GRAND PRIX SERIES results come in.

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me on :

Pat Brightman

SPORTLINK Grand Prix Race Administrator










We regularly feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A. 

This month it's Pete Johnson in the spotlight.


How is your season going Pete?

Touch wood, well. I have competed in a number of races this year and although the times aren't where I used to be, I'm satisfied.


Have you had any serious injuries?

To date I can only remember my adductor injury, this took me out for weeks. I even know what caused it. I raced three 5000m inside two weeks, that's a lot of cornering. Aside from that I've probably had most of the problems that everyone gets. Oh there was the calf problem which stopped my return to London.


What is your favourite race distance?

This used to be the marathon, I still think I'm more suited to the longer distances Ten and half, although I am trying to target more 10kms to keep the speed up.


Favourite pre-race food?

None really, I have a sweet tooth so I'll always go for a dessert with custard ha ha.


Do you have any post-race recovery tips, food drink, rest?

I always try to hydrate after a race, but basically get some food in during that first ½ hour or so after training/racing. For me, I will probably have a recovery jog the day after. There was  a time when I'd go out later the same day!


Do you have a superstitious colour or piece of kit?

Not really, I have favourite race shorts, but more than one pair and as many of you will remember, I have worn a good many vests in my time.


If you were able to do any other sport, what would you choose?

I have followed motor sport for more years than I can remember, so that would probably be my choice.


If you had an idea weather condition and time of day to run, what would it be?

Early to mid morning, not freezing but not hot. I don't think I run well in the heat, if it starts to rain when I'm out that's ok.


What shoe are running in currently?

I have always got on well with Brooks Ghost, now 11th edition, and my other go to shoe would be ON Cloud X.


Jaffa cake, cake or biscuit?












We are now pleased to attach the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 to Race 5.  As we’ve had an overwhelming 2094 individual runners so far, we have just displayed the TOP 20 finishers in each category for the 5 races to date.


Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2019,  therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 7 finishes.

The next race is this SUNDAY – HOLT 10K – Entries are still available via

Entries are now open for the following races and filling fast  -  Humpty Dumpty 10K,  Worstead 5m

A full set of results are available upon request.

Just one last matter, don’t forget to make a note of the Celebration Evening on Friday 15th November – this is NOT just for Prize Winners, but a social event for everyone.  Further details will be available shortly.

If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – please do not hesitate to contact me on this email address ONLY please.

WARNING  Over the next few weeks we have 3 SPORTLINK GRAND PRIX SERIES races – in addition, I am in the process of organising the HUMPTY DUMPTY 10K – therefore the results for Races 6 & 7 may not be released as quick as I would have liked – please bear with me.  Thank You. 


The last 4 weeks has seen several Marathons – so lets have your entry NOW, if you do another before 31st October – send that in too.

Remember, you have to be in it – to win it – or pick up Silver/Bronze.  It doesn’t matter if you’re pleased with your time or not – you’ve all achieved that medal for 26.2 miles.



All other emails addresses I use are so busy, that I may not pick your entry up, so have set this new address up for the 2019 entries.

I DO NOT ACCEPT ENTRIES, with a website link – it is your responsibility to print/attach or whatever the result

ONLY CERTIFIED COURSES, are recognised – off road/trail marathons are not included, nor is 26.2 miles of an ultra.

So, I look forward to receiving your entries shortly and keep me out of mischief for a little while … until some more SPORTLINK GRAND PRIX SERIES results come in.

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me on :

Pat Brightman

SPORTLINK Grand Prix Race Administrator

ON – Cloudventure Review

When offered the chance to run in a pair of On Cloudventure, to say I was excited is an understatement.

Having run in several models of other On shoes, I automatically had high expectations when first putting this shoe on. However, and just like all the other On models, it immediately felt very comfortable.

Whilst the padded engineered mesh upper helped create a sock like fit, at the same time this extra padding was not over the top and therefore still gave an appearance of having a fairly lightweight pair of shoes on your feet.

On numerous occasions with other trail shoes, I have had difficulty with the tongue being either too short or narrow causing a twisting movement mid run.  With the Cloudventure, the tongue is slightly more wide and padded lending itself to a much more secure fit.

I was also aware (in a good way) that not only did the heel also have a good amount of padding, but was a little higher adding to a very secure fit in this part of the shoe too. To further this support and protection, the overlays come in an abundance from the base of the heel through to the midfoot and on to the toe box.

There are of course many other features within The Cloudventure such as the patented Cloudtec technology, engineered speedboard which runs throughout the entire length of the shoe and serves as both protection from any sharp objects whilst also supporting the natural rolling of the foot and cloud elements which are made from zero gravity foam.

Unlike other models these cloud elements are either completely or partially closed in so as to prevent any trail debris such as stones entering the centre of them. This doesn’t affect the cushioning or responsiveness in anyway whatsoever and if anything allows for a better push off. They are also combined with an overlay of tough sticky rubber called Missiongrip for extra traction along with zig zag channels allowing for extra traction on a variety of different surfaces.

This shoe is now in its second incarnation and the tag line of soft landing and firm take off can most definitely be applied to the feeling of running in this shoe. In fact it felt even more responsive when I upped the pace.

All in all, for me the shoe really does do what it says on the tin with superb grip and protection across a wide variety of surfaces be it mud, loose gravel and even tree roots. Even when on road sections too for which I can honestly say that I have had road shoes with less cushioning in the past.

If you are a fan of getting off the road and onto the trails this summer, then this shoe really is as close as it gets to getting 10 out of 10 from me.

Oh and despite the common thought that you get stones stuck in On shoes, it certainly didn’t happen to me when running in these new Cloudventure.

Chris Mickleburgh - Sportlink

Going The Distance – Chris Mickleburgh









We regularly feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A. 

This month it's Chris Mickleburgh in the spotlight.

When did you first start to run?
February 2014, the day after having my last cigarette.

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
Seeing how far I can push myself.

What’s your biggest running achievement?
Winning Marriotts Way marathon in 2017 in 2.50 despite getting lost for a mile just after the start.

What in the world motivates a person to run long distance?
The desire to test yourself and see what you are capable of.

What kinds of things do you think about as you run?
I really don’t think too much. I try and switch off. If it’s an effort session or race I think it’s important to try and be in the moment instead of overthinking how you’re feeling and performing.

One the day of the big race…how are you feeling? Are you performing any superstitious rituals (like wearing the same unwashed socks you trained in for months)?
I always have the same breakfast everyday of training so I know it will sit ok on race day. My clubmates at BVH brought me a spirit level to make sure my race number is on straight so I don’t embarrass them all again with it being wonky

What’s your next race?
Run Norwich 10K.

What’s your favourite running shoe?
On Cloudsurfer.

Who’s your running hero?
Jim Walmsley and Zach Miller. Oh and of course the legend that is Sportlink’s very own Kathryn Hammond.

What’s the best thing about working at Sportlink?
Being surrounded by people with a shared passion for running.

Going The Distance – Melissa Baker

We regularly feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A. 

This month it's Melissa Baker in the spotlight.

When did you first start to run?
Sometime in 2016 with my first parkrun being at Catton in August 2016.
What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
Definitely the achievement of what you can accomplish. Seeing how far you can push yourself and the limits you’re at yet the determination to continue through the pain shows how strong a person you really can be.
What’s your biggest running achievement?
My second road marathon was in Bruges last October and I ran my London 2020 good for age time. I was elated because I managed to stay with the pacers and kept focused the whole race of what is set out to achieve.
What in the world motivates a person to run long distance?
Running longer but at a more comfortable pace can almost feel easier than a short distance at a faster pace and once you’ve done a half and then a full marathon it’s almost addictive to continue further...
What kinds of things do you think about as you run? 
I try not to 'think' and just take notice of where I am.  If I do let my mind wonder I always try and positively think about how I am running and imagine finishing the run/race feeling strong, achieving a pb or just generally feeling accomplished with what I have just done.
One the day of the big race…how are you feeling? Are you performing any superstitious rituals (like wearing the same unwashed socks you trained in for months)?
I don’t have any rituals but try and keep a positive attitude, use the pre race nerves to my advantage and to stay focused to run with strategy because they are what makes my races successful and most accomplished.
What’s your next race? 
I have planned an Autumn Marathon and London 2020.
What’s your favourite running shoe? 
I have tried a few brands but always find my way back to my trusty Brooks Ravenna but have just fell in love with the Brooks Adrenaline.
Who’s your running hero? 
My partner Phil, because he started running to keep me company when training for my first marathon and he’s since achieved more than he takes credit for. Somebody else I find inspiring is Fiona Oakes.
What’s the best thing about working at Sportlink? 










We are now pleased to attach the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 to Race 4.  As we’ve had an overwhelming 1874 individual runners so far, we have just displayed the TOP 20 finishers in each category.

Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2019,  therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 7 finishes

We have attached a list of the remaining races in the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series – the next race is Sunday 12th May – DEREHAM 10m

Entries are now open for the following races and filling fast:  Holt 10K, Wroxham 5K, Humpty Dumpty 10K.

A full set of results are available upon request.

Don’t forget to make a note of the Celebration Evening on Friday 15th November – this is NOT just for Prize Winners, but a social event for everyone.  Further details will be available shortly.

If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – please do not hesitate to contact me on this email address ONLY please.



This weekend sees the start of the Marathon season, although there has already been a few since 1st November.

I will send out details for submitting your Marathon times very shortly to a dedicated email address – so I hopefully won’t miss any coming through.

Pat Brightman

SPORTLINK Grand Prix Race Administrator










Half Marathon tips to consider leading up to race day and of course on the day itself:

  1. One of the most important rules to follow….Pace makes for the perfect race!Therefore on race day start at a pace which you know you can maintain as if you go off too quickly you will pay for it later on and be forced to slow up. If anything it is better to start just a little too slowly so as to find an extra surge during the last few miles. There is no better feeling mentally and physically when you know you are in full control and on route to recording a time which befits your true fitness levels.


  1. Make a check list of everything you need to take with you on race day. Tick it off as you pack any such items into your kit bag.


  1. Eat some extra good quality (complex) carbohydrates with your meals during the last three days prior to the race. This will ensure that your glycogen levels are fully topped up so as to help you maintain your best effort for 13.1 miles. On race day have a light breakfast such as cereal (porridge oats are good) or perhaps some whole wheat toast with a poached egg about three hours prior to the start of the race.


  1. Before race day do a dress rehearsal run. The weekend before is usually good. Getup at the time you expect to on race day, have a light breakfast and wear your race day gear. You could even run at the same time of day as to that of when the race starts and even add one or two sections at desired Half Marathon pace so as to get a really good feel for your big day. For the more established athlete, the distance of this run will be dictated by their fitness levels. However, for the first timer, the distance should certainly be no more than two thirds of the Half Marathon Distance followed by a good taper right up to race day.


  1. Make sure you are hydrated going into the race and drink little and often throughout the run, 150/200 mls every 20 mins should suffice (a little more if the temperature is above normal). Water is key, but a good quality electrolyte/energy drink will also help to maintain hydration and energy levels. If making your own, always keep the concentration/solution to about 7.5% i.e. 35gms of powder to every 500 mls of water. Please note that it is dangerous to over hydrate. The colour of your urine will dictate i.e. clear or straw like is good. For those who might be out on the course for two hours or more, an electrolyte energy gel taken every 45 mins may also help or indeed a small piece of cereal energy bar with water. Do not take anything which you have not already used to good effect in training though.


  1. Even though for some of you 13.1 miles might be your longest run yet, it is still a good idea to warm up beforehand. Perhaps not quite as vigorously as the more seasoned and elite athletes, but so as to gently increase your heart rate and get the blood flowing and oxygen into the working muscles before the start of the race.


  1. If you feel a little unsure as to your ability to complete 13.1 miles with regards to perhaps not having done enough training for the race, then do not try and cram extra long miles in during the week leading up to race day. Try to think more positively and be prepared to stick to a walk/run formula, but start the walking sections early on. If you are forced to walk after what may feel like having run into a brick wall, then this will most certainly mean you have gone off too quickly for your current fitness level. A ratio of 15 mins jog to 1 min walk is good. However, if you really do feel that you haven’t done enough training for the event, then perhaps best not to start and look to focus on making sure you get it right next time.


  1. After the race is over it is a good idea to have a cool down with some gentle stretching to help offset some of the muscle stiffness which is likely to be felt later on in the day or of course the following morning. Maybe even a gentle jog and walk with some stretching. Also drink and eat a little something fairly promptly. An electrolyte energy or more specific recovery drink containing carbohydrates and protein along with any easily digestible foods which you are used to will also further help kick start the refuelling and muscle recovery processes.


  1. Don’t forget to bring a change of clothing with you. Even if the weather is good on the day, you can soon start to get cold a few minutes after finishing and of course if it is wet and windy then even more reason to have some dry clothes to change into.


  1. Finally, have a great run and enjoy every moment of it.

Neil Featherby.











We are now pleased to announce the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – to Race 3.  As we have an overwhelming 1559 individual finishers, we have just displayed the Top 20 finishers in each category.  Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2019, therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 7 finishes.


A full set of results are available upon request at

Please note NEW DATES for Holt 10K – 26th May and Humpty Dumpty 10K – 30th June and the addition of the East Coast 10k on 13th October.

The following race is NOW FULL.  Wymondham 20m.

The following races are now  OPEN for entries  Dereham 10m, Holt 10K and Wroxham 5K via Total Race Timing.  Humpty Dumpty 10K should be OPEN on Monday 18th March.

Don’t delay ….. remember all the races filled fast in 2018 – that’s why we’ve extended the total number of races to 12 with the best of 7 to count – as we listened to runners who were unable to obtain places for some races in 2018.

Just one last matter, don’t forget to make a note of the SPORTLINK Night of Celebrations on Friday 15th November – this is NOT just for Prize Winners, but a social event for everyone. We will also congratulate ALL RUNNERS that complete ALL 12  Races.   Further details will be available shortly.

If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – please do not hesitate to contact me on this email address ONLY please.

Pat Brightman

SPORTLINK Grand Prix  Series Administrator










Results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – Races 1 & 2. 

As we have an overwhelming 1250 finishers, we have just displayed the Top 20 finishers in each category.  Category age groups are based on your age as at 31stDecember 2019, therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 7 finishes.


A full set of results are available upon request at

We have attached a full list of all the SPORTLINK Grand Prix races for the complete season – along with the Athletics Norfolk Fixture List v3.  Please note NEW DATES for Holt 10K – 26thMay and Humpty Dumpty 10K – 30th June and the addition of the East Coast 10k on 13thOctober.


The following race is NOW FULL.  Wymondham 20m.  Ringland Half Marathon has a few entries remaining.

The following races are now or shortly to be OPEN for entries  Dereham 10m & Dereham 5k, via Total Race Timing.  Holt 10K will open on 25 February for affiliated runners with general entries open on 11 March – enter via Total Race Timing

Don’t delay ….. remember all the races filled fast in 2018 – that’s why we’ve extended the total number of races to 12 with the best of 7 to count – as we listened to runners who were unable to obtain places for some races in 2018.

Don’t forget to make a note of the SPORTLINK Night of Celebrations on Friday 15th November – this is NOT just for Prize Winners, but a social event for everyone.We will also congratulate ALL RUNNERS that complete ALL 12  Races.   Further details will be available shortly.

If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – please do not hesitate to contact me on this email address ONLY please.

Pat Brightman

SPORTLINK Grand Prix  Series Administrator



Tom Bosworth - phenomenal athlete....Can you run faster than this man can walk?

Having spent most of my running career knowing what every minute per mile pace represents when it comes to running a marathon. When I saw race walker Tom Bosworth set a new World 1 mile Record in 2017 at the London Diamond League Games of 5:31:08 which if maintained would represent a 2:24:40 marathon, we decided to use Tom's record performance for our Sportlink Christmas Charity Treadmill Challenge in December i.e. who can run 1 mile quicker than he can race walk one. Needless to say not too many people could, but most importantly it was great fun for all who took part and of course we raised money for The Hallswood Animal Sanctuary and Nelson's Journey. To add icing to the cake, Tom was made aware of our challenge for which he got behind it, whilst encouraging people to have a go. This led to us making contact with him for which we are also now looking forward to Tom making an appearance instore at Sportlink on Saturday week (Feb 16th) where of course he will be on hand to chat, sign autographs and present the lucky winner of the treadmill challenge prize draw with their free pair of On Running shoes. Needless to say and in true Sportlink fashion, he will also be up for having a go at a couple of fun challenges too....

Everyone is welcome, so do please come along and meet the man who can race walk quicker than most can run, for which you may even be inspired to have a go at race walking yourself.

Tom should be with us from about 1pm.

See below some of Tom's amazing PB’s.

1 mile 5:31.08 World Record

3,000 metres track 10:38.28 British Record and World Indoor Record

5,000 metres track 18:28.70 British Record

10km Road 39:36.00 British Record
20km Road 1:20:13.00 British Record - 6TH place, 2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro.











We are now pleased to attached the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – Race 1.  We have just displayed the Top 20 finishers in each category.


If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2019 – please do not hesitate to contact me, Pat Brightman on this email address ONLY please.

Going The Distance – Craig Featherby









We regularly feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A. 

To kick-off the New Year it's Craig Featherby.


When did you first start to run?

I had been running for as long as I remember, what with growing up around it so much, it was just always part of my lifestyle. However, I didn’t find my passion for running up until age 14. I was fully focused on football until I discovered a love for running on the track.

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?

I enjoy feeling healthy. It is also great knowing in my mind that my body inside is in good shape.

What’s your biggest running achievement?

I am proud to still hold the record for 800 metres at Hellesdon High school which I set whilst racing at the Norfolk school’s athletics in 2013.

What in the world motivates a person to run long distance?

Personally, I am yet to do a marathon, so I cannot say exactly, but it is something I aim to achieve in the future. The motivation behind that for myself is to

What kinds of things do you think about as you run?

Whilst I run I am trying not to think. I see it as time to get away from any stresses

One the day of the big race…how are you feeling? Are you performing any superstitious rituals (like wearing the same unwashed socks you trained in for months)?

A mixture of nerves and excitement. I have no rituals, I just like to feel 100% prepared. This just means I’m planning my meals days before and ensuring my most comfortable kit is clean and ready on the day so I will have nothing to panic about on the day.

What’s your favourite running shoe?

Currently the ON Cloudace. It’s something which still comes into a fast a light category but provides a great level of cushioning and absorption.

Who’s your running hero?

Neil Featherby

What’s the best thing about working at Sportlink?

I get to work in a friendly environment meeting a large range of new people everyday all with something in common – an interest in running.











Sunday 24th March 2019

The Sportlink Grand Prix 2019 fourth race of the season!

Organised by our friends at Wymondham Athletic Club

The course is the same as in previous years: a two lap route on quiet, rural roads. It again starts in Wymondham’s historic Market Place and finishes in Lady Lane.

Enter now online at

Please email any questions to our Race Director Andrew Lane at

THE RIGHT ADVICE – The benefits of a well balanced diet









A well balanced diet containing all the essential nutrients is a must for all those who take their running seriously. There are lots of fads and myths about foods, special diets and supplements which will allegedly improve performance, but just like training, if you haven’t got the basics correct then you will be under performing. For those who like to put a lot of effort into their training and running, a diet consisting of a high proportion (60%) of complex carbohydrates, 15/20% protein and 20/25% fat (essential fats) is one that best suits most athletes when it comes to ensuring that the food we eat not only meets our energy requirements, but also assists with recovery after training and racing.


Carbohydrate Loading
For those taking part in marathons and long distance events, it is a good idea to increase the amount of carbohydrates in your diet for about three days beforehand. This doesn’t mean you eat more, but by increasing carbohydrates whilst reducing the fat and protein in your diet whilst also reducing your training loads will ensure that your glycogen levels are fully topped up when you stand on the start line. Glycogen storage will also increase water content as for every one gram of glycogen there will be three grams of water. This of course will produce a weight increase for which it is also best to try this out before race day so as to fully appreciate the benefits during the latter stages of marathons and other long distance events.

Carbohydrates are energy providing nutrients so as to provide the body with glycogen during exercise. Glycogen is stored in the muscles and liver. A high muscle glycogen concentration will allow you to train at your optimal intensity whereas a low muscle glycogen concentration will lead to fatigue and sub optimal performances. A well balanced diet containing all essential nutrients is a must for sports people with approximately 60% of the required calorific input coming from Carbohydrates. The highest proportion of these carbohydrates should come from foods that are low to medium on the Glycaemic food ranking list providing slow release energy.
*whilst some have preferred to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in their diet during more recent times, my own preferred personal choice for endurance athletes is still to maintain a high level of complex carbohydrates within the diet.

Glycaemic Index (G.I.)
The Glycaemic Index is a measure of the effects of different foods containing carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. If you need to get carbohydrates into your bloodstream and muscles cells quickly particularly after exercise then foods high on the GI will do this. However and in most cases it is the more slow released forms of carbohydrates which are best and are described as medium to low on the GI ranking of foods. Those that are high on the GI if eaten with fats and protein will also be more slowly released into the blood stream.

Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair and whilst it is very popular with many sports people to take protein powders and supplements the body only requires approximately 15% of the daily calorific requirement to be made up of protein. Proteins can be used for energy if the glycogen levels become low particularly during exercise which extends beyond 90 minutes of endurance training and competition. However, if muscle glycogen stores are high then less protein is broken down for energy whereby muscle repair and recovery after exercise is more rapid. Whereby it is very popular with some sports people to reduce the carbohydrate content in their diet for extra protein, the body only requires 1.4 gms to 1.8gms of protein per Kg of body weight and is more than sufficient enough for athletes. There are lots of powders and protein supplements on the market which are very popular, but as always the best source of essential nutrients comes from eating the correct foods within a balanced diet.
*For those who abstain from eating meat and fish, then eggs and dairy products are a good source of protein. However, for those who also prefer to follow a vegan diet, it is essential to cross mix an assortment of plant foods so as to obtain all nine essential (complete proteins) amino acids in the diet. Whilst it is thought that no plant food contains all the essential amino acids, this is not entirely true, but the amounts are indeed very small. For the vegan and vegetarian athlete who avoid dairy products, good sources of protein come from soy products and other beans/pulses, nuts and whole grains.

Fats should provide the body with about 25% of its energy requirements. Fats come from animal and vegetable sources. Whereas carbohydrates and proteins contain 4.1 kcals per gram, fats provide the body with 9.2 kcals per gram. Fats provide the body with several needs and if the recommended requirements are not met, then the body will not be able to function properly i.e. irregularities with hormone production, organ and cell protection, brain tissue, nerve sheaths, bone marrow and body temperature regulation as well as ensuring the absorption of the fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E & K. Fat also provides a huge supply of energy and whilst it can supply an efficient supply of fuel when combined with carbohydrate oxidation during exercise providing the runner is running at the correct pace (the quicker we run the more the body calls upon energy supplied from carbohydrates), once glycogen levels run low as in runners hitting the wall in marathons and long distance events, then fat oxidation becomes less efficient. Despite the importance of fats, it is also important to understand the difference between those which are considered as good fats and those that are known as bad fats so as to ensure that we consume the correct foods i.e. good fats monounsaturated and polyunsaturated as opposed to those that contain the bad fats trans and saturated.
Whilst the body can synthesize most of the required fats, linoleic acid (Omega 6) and alpha–linolenic acid (Omega 3) can only be obtained through eating specific foods within the diet and hence why these group of fatty acids are considered essential. Therefore, great attention should be paid towards ensuring that we consume the correct foods in respect of obtaining these good fats. However, and at the same time, it should also be pointed out that Omega 6 is far more easily obtained within a western diet for which the downside is that if we eat too many foods containing these fats, this can then inhibit the absorption of Omega 3 fatty acids. Good sources of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids come from eating dark fish such as mackerel, sardines, pilchards, tuna, etc, nuts, seeds, oily fish, eggs, avocados, and olive and certain other vegetable oils. For vegetarians and particularly vegans, the Omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are harder to obtain for which a vegetarian supplement (micro algae) may be worth considering.

Vitamins & Minerals
Whilst Vitamins and minerals do not directly provide the body with energy, without them the body would not be able to function properly. They all have differing roles, but combined they help with growth, energy metabolism, nerve function, vision, wound healing, maintaining healthy tissue, hormone production, red blood cells and oxygen transportation, cell protection, the immune system and to keep our bones strong.

Our bodies are made up of between 60 to 70% water for which all athletes should ensure that they take in enough water throughout the day to ensure that performance levels during training and competition are not impaired. The more energy expended the greater the requirement for fluid replacement. A loss of just 2% in bodyweight through fluid loss will reduce the body’s ability to function reducing performance levels greatly. Severe dehydration can needless to say result in far worse. Urine checks during the day should confirm your needs for water. If it’s clear or straw like in colour then fine, but if not then drink more until it is. About two hours prior to training consume 500 mls of water and consume 150 to 200 mls every 15 to 20 mins during exercise. Do not wait until you are thirsty! Drinks which contain 35 to 50gms of carbohydrate will help maintain carbohydrate oxidation. Those that contain electrolytes which are lost through sweat loss will also help.

Pre event/training meals
Pre event snacks/meals should be easily digestible containing carbohydrates so as to top up muscle glycogen stores and eaten about three hours before your workout or competition. This will allow enough time for your stomach to empty sufficiently and for blood sugar and insulin levels to stabilise. Liver glycogen will also be topped up. Include foods which are low on the G.I. for slow release energy, are low in fat, low in protein and not too bulky. Consume 500mls of water too.
If you are competing late in the day then try to eat sensibly throughout the day at approximately three hour intervals with your last meal 3 to 4 hours before your event. A very small snack about one hour before an endurance event will help to sustain energy and maintain blood sugar levels during the event. However always practice your dietary habits before training sessions as opposed to trying them out first time before competition.

Whilst many sportspeople take all sorts of potions in the hope that performance can be improved, a well-balanced diet should meet all essential requirements. However and with the pace of modern day life many sports nutritionists advise that taking a balanced multi vitamin with iron can help safeguard in the unlikely event of there being any small deficiencies. It is advisable to be aware that whist the water soluble vitamins in the B Group and Vit C will be excreted in the urine if taken in excess, the Fat Soluble vitamins A, D, E & K can become toxic if taken in excessive amounts as these will be stored in the body.
Energy and Electrolyte Drinks can help to not only maintain energy levels during long bouts of exercise, but will also help the body stay hydrated. However it is important to ensure that the concentration levels (mix) is at the correct levels. A 7.5 to 10%concentration is normally recommended i.e. 35/50gms per 500 mls of water or in hot temperatures 5% and below.
Recovery Drinks are okay particularly for those that train hard on several days throughout each week. They should predominately contain carbohydrates with a little protein so as to aid with energy replacement and muscle recovery.
The sports nutrition market is huge and whilst there are potions and pills available for just about everything, first and foremost, a well-balanced diet containing all the essential nutrients is far healthier and in most cases far tastier and more satisfying.

2019 – New Year New You

New Year…New You!

Every year thousands of people take up exercise, particularly running by way of a means to get fit and of course fit in with their New Year resolutions. This is fantastic and something we are Sportlink are fully behind. However, we also advise that each person really should follow a plan which is carefully designed to  fit in with their current level of fitness and lifestyle.

For some they will unfortunately give it up before the end of January through either doing too much too soon and becoming over whelmed by it all, or in many cases they will get hurt and have to stop. With this in mind we strongly recommend the wearing of a high quality pair of running shoes which is fitted for each person’s own individual requirements.

We fully understand that many beginners and those new to running will not want to go over board and spend a lot of money on something which they may not continue with, but at Sportlink, you can not only be assured that we will help you find the correct footwear, we will also do our very best to do so at a price which fits in with your budget. At the same time you can also ask us for any other running advice which will help you on your way towards a great New Year and most importantly a great New You throughout 2019.

Winter Running Tips









As soon as the clocks go back and the darkness of night out weighs that of the light of day along with a drop in temperature, for many this is off putting when it comes to finding the motivation to open the door and take those first few steps out into the cold and dark of the early mornings and evenings. More often than not once you are out there you soon forget about it and when finished with the steam coming off your body, the thrill and buzz can be even better than one of those beautiful spring like morning runs. However and before the inexperienced amongst us take those first few winter running steps, it is important to pay attention to certain factors that can turn a winters run from what should be a pleasant experience into one that could put you off for good.

Clothing during the winter months is very important with reflective gear being right at the top of the list. Most running gear now has reflective strips and actually use reflective materials during the manufacturing of all clothing and footwear. For those who perhaps don’t want to spend money on running gear just for the winter months then a reflective bib is a must and can be worn over the top of any item of clothing along with numerous flashing clip on lights which are also now available. Visibility really is a must! The saying “Be Seen, Be Safe” is undoubtedly a quote to always remember when running in poor light.

*When out running in the dark, always try to stay on pavements or if forced on to roads then face the traffic. Whilst running with music is a must for some, this is something that perhaps needs careful consideration when running in poor visibility.

Another item for winter running which has become very popular during the last few years are head torches. They really are an excellent piece of equipment  to have when running in the dark by way of visibility and helping to light up the way ahead. However and as with all products, some are better than others so when purchasing always look to try on and check for not only the power output, but to check the beam shape and width spread. Also be aware of the charge and or battery life. At Sportlink we tend to focus on the Silva brand of head-torches which can range in cost from about £20 to £80. Once again I have tried them all out for which they all meet the necessary requirements.

*A good headtorch really will throw out a strong beam of light so remember to dip the light or your head when motorists and vehicles are coming towards you.

Needless to say there are other considerations with regards what to wear so as to meet those potential winter elements to keep you not only warm and dry, but comfortable too. I always start with a base layer made from wicking materials/fibres which will wick away any build-up of moisture from sweat.  Cotton retains moisture which is not only uncomfortable, but can lead to chaffing and a drop in body temperature if you slow down or turn into a cold wind.  Depending upon the conditions I tend to add layers albeit lightweight vests, t shirts or even long sleeve tops. If it is freezing cold then it might not just mean one or two extra layers, but even a third and if it is raining and very windy then a lightweight showerproof jacket too. If out on one of those longer runs and the rain stops and you start to get a little too warm, most lightweight jackets can easily be folded up and carried or just tied around your waist. I also suffer quite badly with cold fingers so more often than not in the winter I will wear lightweight  gloves. A hat is also a must for me what with not wanting to lose all the heat through the top of my bald head. Ladies may want to consider head bands which cover the ears when the temperature drops those few extra degrees. Other items which I like to have available are a couple of pairs of running tights and plenty of high quality running socks. If shoes are the most important piece of a runners equipment then socks have to be the second most important item. Ladies will also point to a good sports bra. For those who don’t like getting their feet wet, then there are several models of running shoes which are made with a Goretex fabric. However before purchasing a “Goretex Running Shoe”, make sure that it also fits all your other necessary requirements as there are several Goretax running shoes on the market whichmay lack in other very important departments i.e. cushioning, shock absorption and support if required. Grip in very slippery and icy under foot conditions also needs to be considered so if your shoes don’t have enough tread on them consider driving to somewhere where the surface is better suited or purchase a set of snow/ice grippers which can easily be fitted on to the soles of your running shoes.

*When it comes to running equipment like everything else you tend to get what you pay for. You don’t have to be able to afford a Ferrari to get a great car and that is the same with running gear. However there are price points which do need to be considered when purchasing quality footwear, clothing and equipment particularly if you want it to retain its capabilities for year after year. You can be assured that we always look to get people in the right gear at the right price and we only sell what we endorse.

Warm up
Always warm up before running whatever the temperature or time of the year. However and during the cooler months a good warm up will certainly make you feel that much better before taking those first few strides when the air temperature is cooler particularly as our muscles do not contract at the same intensity and are less powerful in colder conditions. One other consideration to take on board is that whilst our bodies rely on carbohydrates as a source of energy for distance running, energy consumption from carbohydrates  increases during cooler temperatures and therefore it is advisable to ensure that you have eaten a meal high in complex carbohydrates the night before if planning a long morning run or indeed a light meal or foods containing carbohydrates two to three hours beforehand. This is also another good reason to make sure that you wear clothing which will keep you warm during your run.

Warm Down
As with warming up, the warm down is also very important, but if you are wet and the temperature is extra cold then it only takes a few minutes after stopping for your body temperature to drop to the point where you can start shivering. If you have done a few mins of gentle jogging at the end of your run, then put another top on before doing your stretching exercises. If wet and cold then make sure you take off your wet layers and replace with dry clothing as soon as you can. Consume some water and eat a little food too or consume a recovery drink which will help to replace the fluid and nutrients lost during your run.

During warm weather running we all pay attention to staying hydrated, but this is just as applicable to running in the cooler temperatures. Therefore always have a drink before you go and just as you might in the summer months carry a drinks bottle with you so as to top up along the way especially on the longer one hour plus runs.


Happy Running whatever the weather and conditions.


Neil Featherby.

Sportlink Running & Fitness.

Vegan Friendly Running Shoes….

Vegan Friendly Running Shoes….

With so many people now following vegetarian and vegan diets, we are also being asked as to which brands produce running shoes which  are made without using any animal derived materials.

Whilst most running shoes are made from synthetic materials, some of these materials still contain leather. However, most of the issues appear to be with the dyes and glues with some being derived from animals for which not all the brands can guarantee that their footwear is 100% Vegan friendly.

Therefore if you are looking for a shoe where no animal has been used during the manufacturing processes, please see below information with regards to the brands we stock at Sportlink.

We will continue to update any further information and changes as we receive it.


According to their website they have a huge selection of vegan friendly shoes. However, they do point out that the brand also produces shoes that are nonvegan as they contain the use of animal leather.

From the information that has been published on their website, all Asics running shoes stocked at Sportlink are vegan friendly.


Brooks have for quite some time now produced running footwear that is Vegan and environmentally friendly. Having been able to get a direct response from their sales representative on behalf of the company, please see below.

“Yes, all our shoes are vegan except the walkers due to the leather but all running shoes are vegan.”

Kind regards,



Hello Neil,

I have spoken to our FSR team and I have been told all our shoes are Vegan friendly apart from the below;

Sky Outdoor range

Bondi & Gaviota Leather


Jamie Ging

Sales Executive


From their website.

This British brand guarantees that all its shoes are made without leather or suede and are vegan featuring a variety of different soles for excellent grip on track or trail.

On the back of their statement, we also assume that the glues used during the manufacturing of their footwear is also vegan friendly.


Hi Neil,

I can confirm that our running shoes are vegan friendly.  We do not use any natural leathers nor use glues or dyes which contain animal derivatives in our shoes.


Steve Davies
UK Field Sales Manager

New Balance

From their website

Many of our models are made with synthetic materials. However, please note that we do use different types of glues depending on what is available. Some glues contain animal products. Although the shoe may be made of synthetic leather it does not mean it will be completely vegan.


Direct from their sales representative on behalf of the company -

Hi Neil,

Yes all our shoes are all 100 percent vegan friendly.

Kind regards


On-Running UK


Direct from their sales representative on behalf of the company -

Hi Neil,

Our performance range is vegan friendly in terms of materials but we can’t guarantee the factories are vegan friendly as they may use leather etc on other products.

Kind Regards



From their website

*This company is unable to guarantee that the glue used in its synthetic shoes will remain vegan at all times, because of potential changes in suppliers and the availability of ingredients. We’ve opted to include it here because its products are widely available and because being vegan is not about personal purity. The more popular these synthetic shoes are, the more cruelty-free options will be made available in the future.

We will continue to update any further information and changes as we receive it.

The Sportlink Team.











The Sportlink Grand Prix 2019 first race of the season!

Great Yarmouth and District Athletic Club
BAM Nuttall freethorpe TEN

Sunday 27th January 2019

Race HQ:  freethorpe Village Hall NR13 3NZ
Start 11 a.m.

10 mile Circular road race on quiet Country Roads an ideal training race for a spring marathon.
Extensive prize list including first male and female £200
Course record bonus £50 first male and female male 51:05 male 56:42

Entry Fees until 31/12/2018 - £18 affiliated  £21 unaffiliated.

Enter now online at

Race Info and Numbers will be sent out after 9th January 2019.

All enquiries etc -  email to










This week ballot results for the London Marathon 2019 are announced with acceptance magazines and emails officially starting to drop to lucky applicants from Monday 8th October.

Here at Sportlink Specialist Sports Ltd we’re here for you all the way on your journey to #VLM2019offering 20% off all full priced shoes and clothing in-store between Monday 8th and December 24th 2018 with production of your acceptance magazine or email for London Marathon or any other Spring 2019 marathon including ASICS Greater Manchester MarathonBrighton Marathon WeekendBungay Festival of Running Marathon,Boston Marathon UK and any others you may have entered.

We're here to be part of your journey and want to help every step of the way with advice and experience, but firstly to start you off on the right foot and training in the best shoe possible for you.
We are Norfolk's only independent running specialists, run by runner for runners.

Good luck - The Sportlink Team
#Sportlink #Running #Fitness #Marathon#VLM2019

The Benefits of Compression Clothing

The use of compression clothing in today’s day and age is becoming increasingly popular during both training and competition. Many top sporting brands have designed their own line of compression styled sportswear such as; Hilly, CEP, Nike, Canterbury, the list goes on… but why do we, and elite sports performers across the world choose to wear such products? Surely it doesn’t just serve as an excuse for people to wear tight fitting apparel in a vain attempt to show off their well-trained physiques? Well, maybe there is some truth in that with some cases, but I like to think that the performance enhancing benefits well outweigh the aesthetic purposes and I am now going to try to explain why:


Thermoregulation (maintaining body temperature)

The body operates best when kept at a specific temperature. Too cold and the muscles generate less force, tighten up and you become more susceptible to injuries such as strains and sprains. However, too hot and your reaction times slow and increased stress is placed on the heart.

Reduced Muscle Oscillation (reduces micro damage caused to the muscles)

Small tears appear in your muscle tissue every time they contract, it is a combination of this and the build up of lactic acid that create muscle soreness during and post exercise. Through reducing the rate of micro damage to the muscles, muscle soreness is reduced allowing us to work harder for longer. 

Increased Circulation (blood flow around the body)

Increasing the rate of our blood flow means we can get oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles at a faster rate, as well a quicker removal of waste products such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. This will help increase your rate of recovery during rest periods as well as prolonging the effects of fatigue. 

Increased Proprioception (your awareness of the position of your body in space)

Proprioceptors are found within the muscles, they provide us with feedback upon our positions (e.g. your arm position compared to the rest of your body). Compression clothing effectively acts as a second skin, heightening such senses. As well as making the user more aware of their ranges of movement, it also gives added support and helps by reducing the risk of injury.

Increased Muscle Power Output (elastic and supportive properties)

The stretch in the fabric is designed to aid power input by assisting the stretch reflex / shortening cycle. As a result, the muscle power output is increased as the elastic material helps the muscles to contract with greater force.

Fashionable and Concealing (designed with appearance in mind)

Performance apart there are a couple of other added benefits of compression clothing also, such as; it’s comfortable to wear, it hides any imperfections, it maintains an image, allows you to feel your muscles working, and it can also increase confidence.

So next time it comes to buying your technical apparel, whether it be for training or competition purposes, or maybe just to help brave the harsher elements of the winter months? It may well be worth considering compression clothing as another alternative! The physiological and performance benefits are there to be exploited by everyone when it comes to training, no matter how good you are or what level you train at!


Neil Featherby: It’s been a tough, rewarding few weeks...but now the hard work really starts
As mentioned in my column last week, life has been rather hectic of late what with the new refit at Sportlink, which really does look pretty special albeit still not quite finished.
The official opening last weekend was absolutely superb, which I have to thank so many people for their efforts, from the builders to the electrician, decorator and the graphic designers.
However, I most certainly have to give a huge thank you to all my staff who worked so hard through the bank holiday weekend and the hundreds of customers and friends who came into see us with gifts and items to add to the weekend’s celebrations.
Also in last week’s column, I mentioned that I am at last going to try and complete one of the challenges which I promised to do when turning 60 earlier this year. The challenge being to once again run the full length of Hadrian’s Wall after doing it 10 years ago when turning 50.
Having considerably upped my training mileage during the last month, let’s just say delusion possibly does get worse with age or most certainly in my case.
Having not done a long run for years, piling in the miles does not come as easy as it used to any more.
I also did my first 20 miler in 10 years just last weekend which also confirmed that this old body of mine doesn’t move as efficiently as it once did.
Nevertheless, the idea is to try and complete the 84 miles over some pretty hilly and very tough terrain as near to 24 hours as we possibly can.
When you think about it, everything in your head says it should be easy as a very slow walking pace of just 4mph will get you home within the time limit, but as any long distance runner knows, it doesn’t work like that.
Trying to run so very slowly early on is tough, but after a few hours, once the fatigue of just being on your legs for several hours whilst constantly moving forward up the steep climbs, if we get it wrong and the wheels come off, even 1mph will become mentally and physically hard.
On the plus side for me, I am doing it with two really good friends and great runners, Chas Allen and Jason Wright whilst also having support back up from Baz Hipwell and Mark Hewlett. Baz and Mark really will have an important role to play with making sure we stay in one piece and meeting us at various destinations on route to make sure that our required kit and feed are ready for us when we arrive at the check points.
Chas is an absolute genius when it comes to talking about fitness, physiology, nutrition and anything else that is applicable to how our bodies function, and whilst I pride myself with having pretty good knowledge myself, I am certainly going to take advantage of picking his brains as much as possible during the long haul.
As with every challenge it is always good to have something in the back of your mind to keep you going for which we will also be raising money for The Hallswood Animal Sanctuary and Nelson’s Journey.
MORE: ‘New’ Sportlink is up and running
I have been a volunteer at Hallswood for several years now and have known Simon Wright, the chief executive at Nelson’s Journey, for some time too. Simon who is usually close to the front of most local races, called me up after hearing of our challenge and of course hearing that we are raising funds for his charity to say how pleased he was. He also went on to tell me a bit more about some of the amazing work they do.
Last year alone, 952 children and young people aged between 0-17 years were referred to them following a death of a significant person in their lives. Nelson’s Journey helps provide support for such children whilst also providing further guidance and education to parents, carers and other professionals.
Needless to say I don’t have enough space to write about it all in great depth, but that along with the brilliant work done by Lyz Hall and her team at Hallswood, this will most certainly help to drive us on especially when the going does start to get tough.
If anyone would like to make a donation towards our efforts, we will be setting up a Go Fund Me page which will go out on social media. Alternatively, just pop into Sportlink where either myself and Chas Allen can be found or at Felthorpe Lawnmowers for Jason Wright.
I would also once again like to thank local runner Kelly Beales at Capricorn Campers, Nick Gracie at UNNU Endurance Sports Nutrition, Carlos Rybeck at On Running and Gareth Hickin at Polar for their much valued support.
Finally, I must say a huge well done to Nigel Arnold and his team for their brilliant efforts last week when cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats in just six days….phenomenal!



We are now pleased to attach the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2018 to Race 10.  As we’ve had an overwhelming 2720 runners so far, we have just displayed the TOP 10 finishers in each category. DOWNLOAD HERE

Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2018,  therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 8 finishes

A full set of results are available upon request

There is now ONLY 1 Race remaining in the Series :  Holt 10K on 21st  October organised by North Norfolk Beach Runners and I know that most of you are all eagerly awaiting the entries to open … could be a matter of fastest finger first !!

As you will see, the final top 3 in most categories is still very dependant on the last  race

SPORTLINK NIGHT OF CELEBRATIONS:  We will be hosting our End of Season social evening on Friday 16th November at The Assembly House, Norwich. The ticket prices are as follows: We have less than 15 Early Bird Specials available.

Limited Early Bird Specials £12.50 per head, thereafter £17.50 per head and this includes a 2 Course Hot  Buffet with a wide selection, Presentation Ceremony for the Grand Prix Series, County Postal Marathon & Road Runner of the Year and music for dancing to the fabulous sounds of a DJ.

This evening is OPEN to ALL runners, family & friends, NOT just those that have won a prize.

If you would like to join us for what promises to be a wonderful evening of celebrations, personal achievements and special awards, then please go to the link:

If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2018 – please do not hesitate to contact me, Pat Brightman on this email address ONLY please.

NORFOLK COUNTY POSTAL MARATHON.  We are still accepting entries – even if you have already run a marathon this year and intend doing another before 31st October, please let us have your results and we can amend it if necessary.


Pat Brightman

SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series  Administrator


Going the distance – Daniel Skinner

We regularly feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A. This month it's Daniel Skinner.

When did you first start to run?

I started training as a sprinter at Lincoln Wellington AC when I was 9 years old (11 years ago) and since then I have moved up the distances to around 1500m-10k where I am at the minute.

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?

For me, running is an escape. As a mathematician its great to be able to switch off and give my head a rest! Winning the occasional race is a nice bonus though!

What’s your biggest running achievement?

My biggest achievement in running is more of a personal achievement than a physical one. At the 2012 Lincolnshire County Championships I ran the 400m and the 800m in the under 15 age group. My Grandad was very ill at the time so being able to go out and race for him was really important to me. On the Saturday I went into the 400m as the favourite, not realising that two runners who rarely competed in county matches had turned up. I ran a new personal best but came in 3rd. In all the competitions I have done, that was the hardest loss that I have had to take, I was distraught. The next day was the 800m and I knew that one of the runners who had beaten me in the 400m would be in the race. Since the 400m was my favoured event, I knew that it would be tough to win it but I also knew that I couldn’t walk away without the medal to show my Grandad. I sat in second place, just off the shoulder, for most of the race and with 150m to go I pushed hard for the finish. The last 20 seconds seemed to take years but I reached the finish in a new PB, winning by a second. It took a while for it to sink in but the fact that I came from being beaten down in the 400m to come back and win the 800m in probably the hardest run of my life will always stay with me. Also, I had won the medal for my grandad who had always inspired me to keep pushing, which for me made this the biggest achievement I could ever reach in running.

What in the world motivates a person to run long distance?

Every runner has their own motivation, some run to win, some to keep fit, some to escape. I personally run long distance because it gives me the freedom to choose whatever I like. I can run where I like, for as long as I like and go wherever the run takes me. There are no rules, it’s unpredictable and it’s free which makes it the perfect contrast to the mathematics I study on a daily basis.

What kinds of things do you think about as you run?

Most of the time, nothing! Running is my chance to switch off and not have to think about anything in particular, I can take the run as it comes. Sometimes I may be preparing for a specific race or trying to wrap my head around a particular mathematical concept that isn’t making sense, but for the most part I try not to think to much and just run.

One the day of the big race…how are you feeling? Are you performing any superstitious rituals (like wearing the same unwashed socks you trained in for months)?

On race day I do get really terrible nerves. After months of training it can be daunting to think that it all comes to one run! Mostly though I am just excited, its my chance to perform. The race is my domain and it is where I am free to express myself through running. I don’t believe in superstition, however there are a couple of things that I almost always do in preparation for a race. On the morning of the race, I always have scrambled eggs on brown toast for breakfast. There is no particular reason except that it is good nutritious breakfast (and it’s yummy!) and after having it a couple of times it really just stuck! Also, I will always carry my 2012 county championships medal with me (although I don’t usually run with it) to remind myself of what I am capable of if I really push myself and I am not afraid to hurt. Finally, I find that listening to ‘Lose yourself’ by Eminem really gets me into race mode. I’m not sure what it is exactly about the song but it really helps me to get into the right frame of mind where all that matters is the finish line.

What’s your next race?

I don’t have any races planned at the moment as I am currently working thought some biomechanical issues, but I hope to be back racing soon and building my speed back!

What’s your favourite running shoe?

There are two possible contenders for this one. Going on which shoe I would be first to reach for when going for a run, it has to be the ON Cloud. It is light, responsive and fast while still being comfortable both to run in and also just to walk around day to day. The second shoe is the New Balance 1500. This is my favourite shoe for the faster sessions as it fits my foot perfectly and is super responsive. I can’t put my finger on why I love it so much, it just feels like it works perfectly with my running. I don’t think I could choose between the two shoes as they both have their own uses and I can’t imagine running without either of them!!

Who’s your running hero?

As I was growing up, my running hero was my Grandad who himself earned an England vest on the Cross Country. Unfortunately he had retired before I ever got to see him race but the photos and the stories always made me want to run. He was also one of my top supporters and even if he couldn’t make many races, he would always be the first to ask how it went. In recent years my main idol has been David Rudisha as I think he has all the qualities I want to have as a runner. He is kind, sporting and humble but also ruthless and extremely hard working when he get on the track. He has the perfect combination of brutal desire to win but also respect for every competitor on the track. Too many runners think that you have to be arrogant to have a killer racing instinct, but Rudisha proves them wrong.

What’s the best thing about working at Sportlink?

Its difficult to choose a single thing about Sportlink that makes it so special, but I think it’s the customers who really make it. It’s an absolute pleasure to hear peoples running stories, from ultra marathon runners to people training for their first 5k. One thing that always amazes me is the enthusiasm we see for running and the incredible impact it has on so many lives.

Bank Holiday Sale – Now On!











Norwich’s Only 100% Running Store relaunches this weekend.

Join us this Bank Holiday Weekend (Friday through to Monday) for lots of fun and superb offers with up to 50% off all running shoes, footwear & equipment.

Polar - 30% OFF

As always the very best service and advice from our highly qualified running staff.

More Space , More Equipment and even more atmosphere….a real running experience!

Refreshments available all weekend so come and join us for a drink and a slice of cake.

Free give away shoes to three lucky winners in our prize draw from Saucony, Brooks Running and On Running

Run By Runners For Runners.

Can't get to us?
01603 868606 or e-mail:

All offers while stocks last. 
Other discount offers and club discounts cannot be used with these offers.


With just 1 week to go before the official opening of our super new look Taverham store we have a very special Hoka One One weekend offer for you.
25% OFF all new Hoka One One Clifton 5 & Cavu.
Including a FREE bag with the Clifton 5.
Plus UPTO 35% OFF all other Hoka One One shoes.
Don't miss out on these fantastic offers. Once they're gone they're gone. Come and grab yourself a bargain!
All offers available from our Taverham and Halesworth stores.
Can't get to us?
Call Taverham 01603 868606 or Halesworth 01986 475440
or e-mail:
All offers while stocks last.
Other discount offers and club discounts cannot be used with this offer.
#hoka #hokaclifton5 #hokaclifton4 #hokacavu #hokagaviota #hokaarahi #hokaelevon

Neil Featherby: North Norfolk Beach Runner Robin Rush epitomises what running can do for you











Sportlink owner Neil Featherby with North Norfolk Beach Runner Robin Rush. Picture: Neil Featherby

Sunday’s Run Norwich 10k saw many people relatively new to running complete the challenge of taking part and finishing a 10k run for the first time.

At the opposite end of the running spectrum, I bumped into an old friend and very prominent local runner from the 1980s and 90s last week.

In fact this old friend has also been around on the cycling and swimming scene too for years, but it was as a runner I know him best for.

Robin Rush, from Aylsham, who coincidentally is also the North Norfolk Beach Runners longest serving member would regularly toe the line at road races around the county back in the day so when seeing him last week my immediate thought was to have a good chat with him about the good old days.

As it happens he came into Sportlink late last year with a paper cutting for me, but I unfortunately missed him so before I could say ‘hi Robin how good it is to see you this time’, with his usual big smile and dry sense of humour, casually sitting there trying on several pairs of running shoes, he beat me to it with a comical comment of ‘so you do still work here then?’

Needless to say I got my own back prior to him leaving when asking him to help unload a lorry with two new treadmills for our extension work which is currently going on at the store.

At 77 years of age, Robin is still so very fit that is for sure. In fact his current fitness levels are probably well beyond what many a person half his age could aspire too. Whilst most of his current day personal challenges are restricted to cycling all over Europe, he has completed ten marathons and taken part in running road races all around the World, which includes places such as Berlin, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moscow, Iran, Jordan and Turkey.

When it comes to cycling, he has cycled through the Atlas mountains in Morocco, cycled over 1,000 miles from Switzerland to Budapest whilst also following the rivers Thames, Danube and Rhine all the way from the sources of these great rivers. He has also cycled from John O’Groats to Lands End and again in the opposite direction whilst also having completed the trip from the most easterly point in the UK, to the most westerly point when cycling from Lowestoft to St David’s.

Oh and I nearly forgot that he has also cycled the length of Ireland too amongst his many feats of endurance. However, the main reason I am writing about Robin this week, is because he like so many other people here in Norfolk, is someone who just quietly and indeed very modestly does so much to help others through his running and cycling. So much so that he has raised a staggering £200,000 through all his many superb efforts during the last 40 years for which lots of charities and organisations, many of them local, benefitting from his efforts.

I think this is absolutely brilliant and once again demonstrates just how running and keeping fit helps to not only keep our bodies in great shape, but our minds too for which Robin most certainly epitomises this.

For those who may not know him, he was awarded an MBE in the Queens Birthday honours list last year for all his charity work, which I know he is very proud of and rightly so.

Incidentally, I have sold him many pairs of running shoes over the years and believe it or not I can still remember the very first pair!

Going back to last Sunday’s city centre 10k, a huge well done to everyone who took part whilst also not forgetting all those people, organisations and businesses who help to make it the super event it most certainly is.

Neil Featherby: Cherish that finisher’s medal at Run Norwich 2018 – you deserve it










Initially there were 14 candidates, but like all projects there will always be a number of twists and turns along the way for which we unfortunately lost three of them due to ongoing niggles. However, as we now approach the big day, I am so pleased and even proud to say that 11 of them will be lining up with 7,000 or so other race entrants for which they will all be taking part in an event which will not only be a fantastic experience for them, but it will also be the end of a very personal journey for each one of them too.

Whilst the very elite will be racing their way round in a little under or just over 30 minutes, for most of the runners in the race it will be anything from 45 minutes to well over an hour. For the Norse Group, we may get one or two under 50 minutes and a couple under the hour, but for the majority it will be around 60 to 75 minutes.

When they cross the finish line and receive their finishers medal, it will not only represent the run they have just completed, but actually represent all those weeks of hard effort which has gone into the training for this run. Running and preparing yourself to take on such a race is like everything else in life, you get out what you put in.

Whilst I have continually used such words as focus, motivation, desire, consistency and determination when trying to describe what it takes during our weekly sessions, those same words do indeed sum up what is required if you want to do something to the best of your ability. When they stand on the start line I am sure everything they have gone through will all start to make sense.

The Norse Running Group at the Field of Pain. Picture: Neil Featherby

In last week’s column I gave plenty of last minute tips regarding diet, tapering and hydration.

However, and whilst preparation is so very important, race day comes with lots of nerves and excitement for which it is so easy to go off too quickly at the start.

In big races such as this, you can also easily get blocked at the start. If you do then stay very patient and gradually pick it up as you work your way round the course and don’t go bombing off the minute you get clear space as you can easily destroy all the hard work which has gone in to getting you to the start line in the first place.

Remember pace makes for the perfect race! Take note Mark Armstrong! Work your way up the hills as opposed to struggling up them and run your own race if you want to cross the finish line in a time which befits your fitness on the day.

The Norse Running Group at the Field of Pain. Picture: Neil Featherby

Looking at the sharp end of the field... for me it has to be Nick Earl who is currently in the form of his life. However, Ash Harrell, is also in great form. I think last year’s winner Mike Kallenberg has been carrying an injury, but if not then he will most certainly be right in there with them as will the evergreen Adrian Mussett. Not too far behind them I can then see local stars Dom Blake, Michael Eccles, Stu Huntington, Gary Crush, Steve Cannell, Sam Coyne, Wayne Lincoln, James Senior, Nathan Risbey and Chris Mickleburgh all scrapping it out for top 10 placings.

When it comes to the ladies race, then it has to be Dani Nimmock closely followed by last year’s winner Emma Risbey, Jo Andrews and Cat Cummings. Nevertheless, the start list suggests that there are 42 sub 35-minute runners entered with many from away, so I also expect a few surprises which will of course lend itself to further excitement on the day.

Good luck to everyone and have a great run.

Neil Featherby: Time to put finishing touches to your training…and think about hydration.

It’s time to think about that race strategy for Run Norwich 2018, says Neil Featherby
With just over a week to go to this year’s big city centre race, the Run Norwich 10k, a lot of first timers will be asking themselves lots of questions with regards to wondering if they have ticked all the boxes to be fully prepared and ready to go when they stand on the start line.
Needless to say there will always be thoughts of “have I done enough?” or “can I squeeze a few extra miles in between now and race day?”
However, in truth, the final week should just be about putting the finishing touches to all the weeks and months of hard preparation which has gone in.
It is now about making sure that you can get the very best out of what you have done with perhaps a few specific sessions during the next few days to put the icing on the cake.
The warm weather has certainly slowed many down during training preparations and of course there have been many warnings about exercising in the extreme heat conditions.
By all accounts the forecasters suggest that August 5 (race day) will also be very warm.
Whilst it is so very important to be careful, I am sure the race will go ahead.
I have been preparing all the athletes in my groups to have a good understanding of running in such conditions and at the same time gently preparing them to run in the warmer weather.
For instance, the London Marathon earlier this year was run in very warm and stifling conditions which had also come on the back of an earlier cold spell. Whilst this spoilt many runners’ plans of hitting target times, those who ran intelligently still completed the race and got round in reasonable times.
The heart has to work much harder in such conditions due to blood flow, hence why the intensity of running can feel much greater than usual.
However, and apart from getting the pace right, hydration is key and whilst we are all so much more aware nowadays to the dangers of over hydrating (hyponatremia), it once again comes down to preparation and intelligence. My concern for people is that so many of them now talk about hyponatremia, that some of them don’t drink enough.
Little and often is the key.
When going out for a run make sure you are hydrated before you start. Any sign of thirst suggests that you aren’t. Providing we drink regularly during the day, all should be okay.
To put it bluntly, if your urine is clear or straw like in colour then you are fine. If not, then you need to drink more.
On race day or indeed when training particularly for those who are going to be exercising for an hour or more, then make sure you have a good drink (approx. 500mls) of water upon waking up or an hour or so before running. Then have another drink of about 300mls just before you start. If you need to urinate during the run then it is more than likely to do with what you drank before that last drink.
On the way round take in small amounts little and often – perhaps 150mls every 15 minutes or so. However, be careful of very concentrated sugary drinks as they could lead to dehydration and even make you feel nauseous if it is very warm.
You can always put an electrolyte tablet in your bottle or use a very carefully balanced out energy/electrolyte drink to take round with you which will also help.
Be sensible with the clothing which you run in. I used to wear a neckerchief in warm weather to constantly pour water on to it which kept the back of my neck cool. I would also pour water over my head and if need be sponge down when possible.
I have even soaked my vest before running.
Many experienced runners will go out this coming Sunday morning and go through a pre-race ritual.
In fact they will probably have the same pre-race meal on Saturday night containing lots of good carbohydrates and then get up on Sunday morning at the same time they expect to on the day of the race and then go through a race day simulation to practice what they intend doing during the race.
It is a great way to focus your mind, go through the motions and tick one of those final boxes to get it all blueprinted in your head.
For the first timer, this does not mean going out and doing your longest or indeed fastest paced run though.
On the back of my recent column about running and mental health, I received lots of private messages and calls from people telling me how running has helped them personally.
This week, I spoke to someone who has completed some amazing feats over the last few years whilst also doing so much for others for which they have now become one of these people who is so greatly admired and people look to for strength.
I have known this person for 30 years and during that time we have had lots of discussions about everything running and similar charity work which we both do.
Just very recently this person had a bit of a low themselves for which once again I received messages asking if I was I aware. Needless to say I made contact and had a good chat with them. I suppose you could ask the question as to who and what motivates the motivator? More often than not the motivator likes to motivate others because they themselves need to have motivation all around them for their own secure feelings.
At the end of the day we are all so very human and once again from what I saw this last week, it represents just how very human the running community are when it comes to offering support to each other when needed. Running is without a doubt a fantastic sport.
But at the same time and as I have said so many times before, it is also so much more than just a sport.


SUNDAY AUGUST 19TH : The Great War Centenary Dereham 5k - Sportlink Grand Prix Event.

August 19th
Sponsored Grand Prix Event.

Now SOLD OUT ... Thanks to all who have entered.


Full race details to follow at the Dereham Runners Website - HERE

10 things to help you through 10 days before Run Norwich

Neil Featherby shares his top tips for runners ahead of the 10km Run Norwich, which takes place on Sunday 5th August.

  1. Stick to your routine with regards to diet. Include some extra carbohydrates, but this is a 10k race, not a marathon so don’t overdo it and do not experiment with foods not eaten before.
  2. If your longest run going into this weekend is less than 10k, then don’t go all out to run the distance or indeed run longer just a week before the main event.
  3. If possible go out for a rehearsal run this coming Sunday whilst wearing race day kit at the same time of day as what the race starts. Focus your mind as if actually there.
  4. Check your kit and make sure everything is in good working order. It is not too late to still purchase items if required, especially socks which can be just as important as shoes.
  5. For those who get nervous, try to get a little extra sleep during the week just in case you don’t sleep so well the night before race day.
  6. Create lots of positive thoughts in your mind. Keep reminding yourself of all the training miles you have put in and focus your mind on ticking off each km with ease.
  7. Taper your runs during race week, but don’t stop completely. Lots of people have experienced heavy legs come race day by completely shutting down too soon.
  8. Check out the long-range weather forecast as whilst we can’t be too sure what race day will bring, the likelihood is that it will be warm. Drink plenty of fluids so as to stay hydrated throughout the week.
  9. Have all items of kit laid out and ready before race day. Make a check list with everything you know you will need to have with you and tick each item off as you pack.
  10. Pace makes for the perfect race! After months preparing for your big day, do not spoil it by going off too quickly. Look to get round in the best and most efficient way possible.










If you go down to Sportlink today....
Some secrets are just impossible to keep that is for sure. A big thank you to everyone who has been coming into Sportlink during this last week whilst being so patient while building work has been taking place with regards to our new extension and what will be a super new look instore. More space and lots of new equipment for which it really will be everything running for the runner. Needless to say with the same full on service which always comes with a big smile.



Another big thank you has to also go out to all the local businesses and friends who have been helping us with this project (all runners of course) and to Karen Grapes who turned up with some refreshments for staff and customers yesterday. A B Goodwin Builders, Rock Solid Graphics, Vmit Ltd, Monarc Welding, Jonathan Reader Electrical Services, Jason Wright Felthorpe Lawnmowers and Shaun Hurr. However a special thank you goes to our very own structural engineer Mr Barry Hipwell for which you really must watch this space going forward.










Sunday 12th August - 10am
Ormiston Venture Academy, Oriel Avenue, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR31 7JJ

Great Yarmouth Road Runners are pleased to announce that the Great Yarmouth Half Marathon returns again in 2018.

The popular accurately measured route takes you through the undulating lanes to the south of Great Yarmouth and through the stunning grounds of Somerleyton Hall.

The 2018 race is part of the Sport Link Grand Prix

Race memento for all participants - Plus age category prizes and prizes for leading runners available.

There are refreshments, changing and shower facilities available.


All information taken from the GYRR website











A massive Thank You to Pat Brightman for collating the results.


We are now pleased to attach the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2018 to Race 7.  As we have an overwhelming 2500 runners so far, we have just displayed the TOP 20 finishers in each category.

Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2018,  therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 8 finishes

A full set of results are available upon request
Please email Pat

There are now ONLY 4 Races remaining in the Series :

  • Worstead 5m (which is SOLD OUT, but is operating a waiting list)
  • Great Yarmouth Half Marathon on 12th August organised by Great Yarmouth Road Runners and entries are open at,
  • The Great War Centenary Dereham 5K on 19th August is almost SOLD OUT -
  • Holt 10K on 21st October organised by North Norfolk Beach Runners, entries opening shortly.


SPORTLINK NIGHT OF CELEBRATIONS:  We will be hosting our End of Season social evening on Friday 16th November at The Assembly House, Norwich.  The ticket prices are as follows ON SALE NOW –

 Limited Early Bird Specials £12.50 per head, thereafter £17.50 per head and this includes a 2 Course Hot  Buffet with a wide selection, Presentation Ceremony for the Grand Prix Series, County Postal Marathon & Road Runner of the Year and music for dancing to the fabulous sounds of a DJ

This evening is OPEN to ALL runners, family & friends, NOT just those that have won a prize.

If you would like to join us for what promises to be a wonderful evening of celebrations, personal achievements and special awards, then please go to the link:

If you have any queries, on the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2018 – please do not hesitate to contact me on this email address ONLY please. 

NORFOLK COUNTY POSTAL MARATHON.  We are still accepting entries – even if you have already run a marathon this year and intend doing another before 31st October, please let us have your results and we can amend it if necessary.


Pat Brightman
SPORTLINK GP Series Race Administrator










Worstead 5
Friday 27th July 2018
Part of the Sportlink Grand Prix Series

Organised and hosted by our friends at NNBR.


Race starts 7pm sharp
Race HQ: Worstead, NR28 9RH.

Minimum age17. Race cut off 6.30pm.

The Race is part of the Sportlink Leathes Prior grand prix series.

There will be a groovy 30th Anniversary medal and buff for every finisher.

All funds raised will be split between Worstead Festival, which supports local charities, and NNBR.

For full race detail visit the NNBR website

Going the distance – Meet Emma!










Every Month we now feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A.

This month it's Emma!

When did you first start to run?
At university as a simple cheap way to keep fit. I used to run to collect my bike the next day after a night out!

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
You can push yourself to your limits both, mentally and physically. At the end of the day, your biggest competition is yourself.

What’s your biggest running achievement?
Being the 4th scorer for Winchester and District AC which led us to getting a gold team medal in the 2007 National XC Race.  This race was very tough but is was an amazing team effort for the gold we all race for positions to the line and it paid off.
This result led me and the team to represent England in the European Clubs XC in Portugal this was a great experience mixing with world class athletes.

Emma running pic 2

What in the world motivates a person to run long distance?
Forcing yourself to find it inside yourself to go out and keep going is what I like about long distance. The feeling afterwards you get from a good long run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were doing a long run.

What kinds of things do you think about as you run?
I listen to music a lot so on those runs usually daydreaming to music. Other runs I sometimes have these moments of stuff that I have forgotten to do pops back into my head whilst I am running. So I think running actually helps me to remember stuff.

One the day of the big race…how are you feeling?
Are you performing any superstitious rituals (like wearing the same unwashed socks you trained in for months)? I am a very routine runner.  I like to eat 2.5 hours before the race, check the weather then arrive early so I can then do a 2 mile warm up then 8 fast strides before   every race.


What’s your next race?
I have local 5k’s and 10k’s coming up over the next few months.

What’s your favourite running shoe?
The shoe I train in is the Mizunio Wave Rider it’s just a shoe that suits me.

Who’s your running hero?
Haile Gebrselassie I had the pleasure of meeting him and he is a kind and sincere man alongside being an incredible international running legend setting 27 WR in his career.

What’s the best thing about working at Sportlink?
Meeting and serving customers and chatting all things running!

It’s time for the fitness and medical industries to come together as one, says Neil Featherby.









Carrying on from where I left off last week with regards to us trying to be more aware of our health and the wellbeing of others, particularly those who supervise group sessions, where the ages and abilities vary greatly, this week local exercise expert Chas Allen lends his thoughts to the subject.

Exercise is fantastic and we all know the benefits of being active. However, we also know how addictive it can and how easy to bury your head in the sand, fobbing off an injury as a little niggle which will go away and an illness as nothing more than feeling a little under the weather.

I understand this as well as anyone and have done lots of stupid things over the many obsessive years of my running career to keep my streak of running every single day for 37 years going. Needless to say this means that I have ran through some pretty bad injuries and even raced at times when I was ill.

With this in mind, I also recognise similar traits of mine in others, but have to be careful when pulling them up for it as they will always point at my own addictive behaviour. Nevertheless and most importantly, when all is said and done, those who come along to my sessions or ask for advice aren’t quite as extreme as I have been and after explaining the pitfalls of trying to run through illness or injury they have taken it on board and taken the sensible option.

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

As it happens, I have had to tell one of my Wednesday group this week that she is not allowed to come along due to her suffering with a cold and I am currently considering whether to pull two runners from another one of my groups out of a big race which they are preparing for due to illness and injury.

When you talk to Chas, it is so obvious that his understanding of the effects of exercise on our bodies is on another level and he has a huge desire to help everyone when it comes to health, fitness and wellbeing. His knowledge of all things medical and the effects of the stresses applied to each and every one of us individually during exercise is amazing.

He can most certainly see potential risks well in advance of them happening and as for running with any form of illness, he has some very strong views on this.

When working in the NHS, one of his many visions was to try and unite the fitness and medical industries to reduce the risk of people damaging their health or getting hurt when partaking in exercise particularly those who may have been more at risk.

However, what with certain politics which existed, as one door opened another would close which needless to say led to much frustration for him. Four years on though and upon reflection he can now see why barriers may have been put in front of him.

“Trying to achieve one driving force and one common goal is not always easy,” he said. “Team work is the key and whilst we know those at the very elite end of sport have a team of professionals covering all aspects of their needs, it is further down the scale where coaches and medical professionals should come together to combine skills and knowledge.

“I am now trying to set up a network whereby there is the right person for everyone and every potential requirement whilst working with specific experts, coaches and those in the medical profession who all have specialised skills in their own fields.

“A good coach or advisor will know that he or she cannot control all the mechanics, the steering or the fuel supply. Nevertheless and before a system can work, everyone needs to be in total agreement.

“The fitness industry is booming which is great, but there is no true regulation for this industry. By simply providing an environment where people won’t die is a poor aim when trying to develop excellence and long term lifestyle change.

“It’s a bit like the silly Ab Cruncher advert which you might see at 4am in the morning on the TV guaranteeing quick success. Such claims are wrong! “Whilst we need to be encouraging everyone to try and do something for the good of their health it is also about people having the right qualifications or indeed knowing who does in any given area hence my earlier quote about team work.

“Be it for the beginner or indeed the people who are having a go after years of inactivity right through to those deemed to be excellent athletes, it is so very important that any guidance given is done so correctly. It is one thing ticking boxes in the short term, but another when making sure that boxes are also ticked in the much longer term.”

Whether his dream of uniting so many people together ever comes true is something which only time will tell, but he will do everything he can to make it happen.

At the same time he has most certainly made me think so much more deeply about my own actions before I now act.

One final footnote, my thoughts during the last week have gone very much towards that of Norwich Road Runner and all round super athlete Sze-Ming from Hellesdon, who was in a tragic accident last week when out training on his bike.

The shock of his untimely death has most certainly touched so many people. Like so many others I send my deepest sympathies to his partner Alex, brothers Jack and Dick and of course his mum and all other family members.










If you have completed a Marathon
between1st November 2017 & 31st October 2018
You are eligible to enter the Norfolk County Championships*
*A County qualification is acquired by birth in Norfolk or by nine months continuous bona fide residence in Norfolk.
Medals now being awarded in 5 year Age Categories Senior, then 40 through to 65+

Just send or EMAIL an Official Result or press cutting
(photocopy will suffice) with the following information
PAT BRIGHTMAN Norfolk County Marathon THORNBURY Main Road ORMESBY ST MICHAEL Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR29 3LW
PLEASE NOTE Unfortunately we cannot acceptEmail/Website“links”

Email: pat.brightman@
PLEASE NOTE: That it is the responsibility of an INDIVIDUAL NOT the Club to send in the entry.

Please send in your entry as soon as possible
To be received by 1st NOVEMBER latest.

Results will be announced at
NIGHT OF CELEBRATIONS End of Season social evening on Friday 16thNovember at The Assembly House, Norwich.

Presentation Ceremony for the Grand Prix Series, County Postal Marathon & Road Runner of the Year, Hot Buffet &  Music for dancing to the fabulous sounds of a DJ

We will announce the ticket details soon.










It's been a fantastic start to the year. Thank you to everyone who's taken part and to all of the clubs and organisers.

Here's the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2018 to Race 5.  As we have an overwhelming 2750 runners so far, we have just displayed the TOP 20 finishers in each category.

CLICK HERE to view and download the TOP 20 results for each race.

Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2018,  therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 8 finishes

A full set of results are available upon request from

There are now 6 Races remaining in the Series :
Humpty Dumpty 10K on 24th June, which has less than 100 entries available,

Harling 10K (which is SOLD OUT), Worstead 5m (which is SOLD OUT,

Great Yarmouth Half Marathon on 12th August – entries are OPEN at,

The Great War Centenary Dereham 5K on Sunday 19th August, entries open at

Holt 10K on 21st  October organised by North Norfolk Beach Runners, entries opening shortly.

Neil Featherby: It’s not always as simple as putting one leg in front of the other…









Sometimes it's not always as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. Picture: Archant

I also had a few private messages from people wishing to convey their thoughts to me privately – none were rude and all were very constructive to the debate.

Whilst I love watching people progress as better runners, I also get a lot of satisfaction from watching people take part and participate in any form of exercise. Nevertheless and for those who pointed out that my comment about ‘just putting one leg in front of the other’ isn’t quite as simple as that I decided to seek out and research more thoroughly the views of some highly qualified experts in the field of biomechanics.

I have to say my own personal running style has always been pretty horrendous and whilst for many a year I ran over 100 miles each week, I was still able to compete at a reasonable level. As for even thinking about trying to change my poor running gait, back then all I wanted to do was to train as hard as I could whilst running as fast as I could too.

However, there was always in the back of my mind a few thoughts as to why I had a continuous Achilles tendon issue which I knew was probably down to my poor running style and biomechanics.

I ran with my right foot pointing out at an angle whilst also running with a noticeable drop on my right side for which I purchased several books by the American expert, Dr Steven Subutnik, who was and still is a much qualified authority when it comes to the biomechanics of running and walking.

Reading through his books again this week, he states that where running is similar to walking in many ways, there are clear differences.

When walking there is always one foot on the ground whereas when running, for a brief moment both feet float (off the ground at the same time) between toe off and foot contact.

He also goes on to explain the differences in foot plant and position during varying speeds be it from that of a walk right through to a sprint. Whilst that may seem pretty obvious to most, Dr Subtutnik also explains in great depth how changes through impact forces and stride length differ particularly during the latter stages of a long run when fatigued.

When running, the impact forces upon foot strike are between two-and-a-half and three times your body weight, whereas it is less than 50 percent of this when walking.

As already mentioned, during the last few years, thoughts have changed towards running style and how people may benefit from actually learning to run more efficiently by way of posture, foot strike and cadence.

A number of running and fitness experts have demonstrated how running efficiency can be improved along with a reduction in injuries too by learning to run more economically.

Needless to say the footwear manufacturers have also got involved and designed footwear of a more minimal quality than those which are of the more cushioned and supportive conventional running shoe type.

However, and after reading through several of these more current day research papers, many still mirror much of Subutnik’s views suggesting that at least 80 percent of all joggers and long distance runners heel strike just as we do when walking.

With so much information out there, I thought who better to ask than local expert Chas Allen who really does have some very in-depth and fascinating thoughts about how we run and how running affects us all in various ways.

“Jeffing or Fartlek along with many other forms of pace control have been around for a long time,” he said. “Each person is different and as loading patterns change during the different phases of the gait, there will also be many implications which are unique to each individual.

“We must not forget that genetics also have a big role to play here too what with people of a certain build being more successful when it comes to bodily adaptations from the stresses applied during such exercise and this is why I also love Nordic Walking so much as you can play between the two and help convert people much more carefully from one form of exercise to the other without the same risk factors.”

Chas went on to describe the many factors which can affect people who are taking up exercise for the first time especially those who have not exercised for some time. He most certainly thinks that they would all benefit by following a carefully structured plan, be it through Jeffing, running or any form of exercise which places physical stress on the body.

At the end of the day, walk, jog or run, it is about doing what is best for you at any given time. I personally love seeing people just getting out there and having a go whilst achieving their own goals, be it those who just want to follow a walk-run plan for improved health and fitness or indeed those who want to compete at the highest level possible.

At the same time, my views of learning to run more efficiently whilst also doing more strength and conditioning work so as to strengthen areas of biomechanical weaknesses has also changed. If I had my time again then I would most certainly dedicate at least an hour or two each week to working with the likes of Chas Allen who can add a lot more than just some icing on the cake.

One final footnote…. the IAAF states that all competitors who race walk, must have their front foot on the ground when the rear foot is raised. Failing that, disqualification will take place as it will be regarded as running (lifting).










The Dereham 10 Miler. SUNDAY MAY 13TH


A BIG thank you the everyone who entered and to all who worked so hard to make this a great event hosted by our friends Dereham Runners.


The official results are listed here


Photographer - Aaron Protheroe 


Photographer - Aaron Protheroe 


Photographer - Aaron Protheroe 





Gallery images below thanks to Joe Woodley

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Location: Recreation Ground, Church Road, East Harling, Norfolk, NR16 2NA
Date: Sunday 1st July 2018
Time: 10:30

After another fantastic year in 2017 the East Harling 10k returns again for a 5th time in 2018.

Whilst taking in the flat roads from East Harling to Bridgham this fast race will then take you through a short forest section before finishing with the final 2km on the roads back to the recreation ground with the opportunity for a fast finish!

Medal and goody bag for all finishers plus trophies for top finishers in each category.
The race is organised by the East Harling 10k Committee with entry management and chip timing services provided by Nice Work.
The 2018 race will be held as part of the Sportlink Grand Prix Series
See Athletics Norfolk Road Running Facebook page for more info.

Based out of Taverham and Halesworth, Sportlink provide
expert gait analysis to enable the most appropriate running footwear
to be recommended by their friendly staff. Their Sport Injury Clinic
also assists runners in the prevention and treatment of a variety of
injuries to help keep you on your feet.

On Site Parking
Chip Timing
Baggage Drop Off
Changing rooms
Pre race warm up to be provided by Phil Lambert of Eat Move Mind
Massage provided by Massagebylouise
First Aid
Epic First Aid or an alternative medical provider will be in attendance on the day and the course will be marshalled to provide assistance. There will also be a sweep marshal following the race to ensure that nobody is left behind and that all runners are accounted for.

For all the details visit the Harling 10k website HERE

Neil Featherby: Training for Run Norwich has already started for this group and they’re embracing it…I think!









Norse Group in week one with a few looks of “what is this guy who is training us all about?” Picture: Neil Featherby

Having spent several years coaching and advising runners of all standards, four weeks ago I took on a new running group which has been put together through the Norse Group who are the main sponsor for this year’s Run Norwich 10k on August 5.


After sifting their way through several requests from potential candidates, the company came to me with their selected dozen asking me to help train them up for this year’s race which already has 7,000 runners entered for what will be the fourth staging of this big city centre event.

My initial meeting with the group was at the company offices before then moving on to Felthorpe Park to do our first session together.

However, it soon became very apparent that this selected collection of individuals were all at differing levels where in truth some could already run 10k, with others also reasonably running fit and a couple who were starting from scratch.

What with already having a regular running group (The FOP Running Group) of all abilities, my initial reaction was that it will all be pretty standard and will just be a case of giving them a bit more direction and consistency. It’s not quite been as easy as I first thought!

Now before I go any further with regards to any details about how the last month has gone, each person involved is absolutely brilliant and there is certainly a great mix of personalities and, dare I say, characters.

However, and what with being used to working with people who consider running to be a huge part of their lives, it is quite clear that for most of my new group, running is very much a hobby which is fitted into a very busy lifestyle with work and other commitments.

They also take part in other activities which are a most enjoyable part of their lives.

Whilst I love most physical sports and have indeed been lucky enough to work with many top sports people, running has always been the number one name of the game for me and getting out and having at least one run a day is an absolute must which at times can make me a little blinkered.

Norse Group at the end of this week's session with satisfied smiles on their faces. Picture: Neil Featherby
Norse Group at the end of this week's session with satisfied smiles on their faces. Picture: Neil Featherby
Anyway, things are now starting to take shape although ringing very firmly in my ears are the words of my good friend Luke Tyce who was responsible for engaging my services when he said at the beginning of this project: “Neil, let’s just say that some of them are going to be taken aback somewhat and won’t know what to make of you what with your ways and sense of humour.”

The many confused looks which I have received at each session certainly confirms his view that is for sure!

The thought of spending the next few weeks working with me in preparation to complete a 10k or indeed run one quicker than before may seem a little daunting to some of them and whilst it is not exactly daunting to me, it is still very much a challenge, albeit one which I can honestly say I enjoy being part of.

Having to adapt and amend is something we should all be prepared to do at times in any walk of life. The group are having to learn to adapt to my ways and training methods and I am also learning to adapt to a variation of mindsets which I have not been used to before.

What is sure is that this is going to be a fun journey with a few detours and change of directions along the way for which sometimes taking a different route can turn out to be more exciting and perhaps even more effective when it comes to getting the very best out of people!

The smiles on all their faces at the end of the session earlier this week confirmed this and before anyone suggests their smiles were probably more out of relief at getting through another session, I am already aware of this!

Neil Featherby: Mo Farah’s British record time at the London Marathon felt like the end of an era









This year’s London Marathon certainly had its fair share of drama, particularly with it being the hottest one since the very first back in 1981.

As suggested in my column last week, my fears of the heat causing problems turned out to be correct.

I really did feel for all those who had trained so hard through the winter months only to be confronted by 26.2 miles in a heatwave.

Times were well down for so many, that is for sure, with a number of our top Norfolk athletes all recording slower times than what they were capable of.

The trouble with running a marathon is that it takes weeks and months of hard effort to get into peak shape and then on the day it can be spoilt by the weather.

With races of a lesser distance, the recovery rate is one where you can do it again a couple of weeks later, but with the marathon it can take several weeks or even months particularly after running one in such extreme conditions before full recovery is complete.

Lots of advice was given out by the race organisers for which most people did take notice and of course it was still a great occasion with thousands of runners being rewarded with the finishers medal which represented their achievement.

For those racing at the front of the men’s and ladies races, it was as competitive as ever with eyes very much on the Kenyan Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge and British favourite Mo Farah. However, it was Kipchoge who ran a super controlled race, winning in 2:04:17 with Farah finishing in third place in 2:06:21 whilst also breaking the 33-year-old British record by 52 seconds which has stood for 33 years and held by the legend that is Steve Jones.

For all those who go back like I do to the 1980s marathon running scene, Jonesy along with the likes of Charlie Spedding, Hugh Jones and so many others really were awesome for which the respect they all had was immense.

Nevertheless, a huge well done to Mo for breaking that long standing record, but it did also feel like the end of an era in some ways.

The ladies race was won by Vivian Cheruiyot and like Kipchoge, is also from Kenya. She broke the tape in a very fast time of 2:18:31, with the first female British athlete being Lily Partridge who finished in a superb eighth place in an equally superb time of 2:29:25.

On a local front, what a great run too by City of Norwich AC’s Charlotte Rose who crossed the line in 2:48:35.

On the back of Dani Nimmock’s brilliant performance when winning the Manchester marathon three weeks ago, this is a real thumbs up for CONAC and Norfolk running.

A mention also has to go to David Weir who won the mens wheelchair race for a staggering eighth time (1:31:15) and to Simon Kindleysides from Blofield who despite being paralysed, amazingly completed the 26.2 miles whilst wearing an exoskeleton suit in 36 hours. Not only was this a huge challenge for him, but he raised several thousands of pounds for his awesome efforts too.

Moving on from my love of marathon running, on May 12/13, the Norfolk County Track & Field Championships will be held at the UEA Sportspark.

These championships have even more history than The London Marathon what with possibly going back to 1923 when they were combined with Suffolk or so the very knowledgeable and tireless servant of Norfolk athletics Brendon Byrne has suggested.

There will be a full events programme for U13s through to seniors and of course masters. Additionally there will also be events for our para athletes and once again Quadkids featuring sprint, middle distance and field events.

However, and two events which I always specifically look out for is the 1500 and 5,000 metre races.

Both these events have always fascinated me right back to my school days. Whilst we have so many talented road runners in the county, I would love to see some of them turn their hand to having a go at these track events as I wouldn’t mind betting that a few of them have hidden talents and if nothing else the track is a great place to see what you really are capable of.

This week’s column represents exactly one full year of supporting Mark Armstrong with his On The Run and Run Anglia articles.

I really have enjoyed being part of these EDP and Evening News weekly features and whilst I am more often than not late with copy, I just about always get there in the end.

I have tried to write about a number of given topics when it comes to everything running whereby in some cases it has caused debate and at other times just general interest (I hope).

However, and for those who said I will soon run out of ideas, well trust me, I most definitely won’t! When it is about something which has dominated a big part of your life, then it is easy. A big thank you to all those people during the last year who have told me that they have enjoyed reading the columns each week as it really is appreciated.

One final note before I sign off…I am regularly asked as to what is the most inspiring marathon race which I have ever watched. That really is a difficult one to answer, but if I had to say which one I have watched the most, then it has to be the Boston Marathon of 1982 when Alberto Salazar had an amazing battle with Dick Beardsley who as it happens was the first (joint) winner of the London Marathon in 1981. Salazar and Beardsley fought all the way to the very end both recording times of 2:08, which even to this day, the hairs still stand up on the back of my neck when watching it.

Police motorbike riders all around them, streets lined with thousands of spectators and even cyclists all following the event from behind. The noise and atmosphere was electric. For those who haven’t ever seen it, then check it out on Youtube “Duel in The Sun – Boston Marathon.”

It’s guaranteed to inspire you!










Organised and hosted by our friends at GYRR.

A fast, flat course along the seafront with PB potential!

Under UKA Rules Minimum age on race day – 15 years
Licence No Applied for Course Measurement – SE 16/317

Wednesdays 25th April – 9th May – 23rd May

* CHIP TIMED* by NiceWork

All Races Start at 7:15 pm
Race HQ : Marina Centre, Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 2ER

* Refreshments Available* Changing & Shower Facilities*Supervised baggage*
*Age group prizes* * Bespoke interlocking medals for each race*

Enter all three races and see how the medals stack together!

Male and female Course Records awarded only once for the series £50


Full details available from the GYRR website - HERE




It's our special week of discount for anyone who has taken part in a Marathon this year including Brighton, Manchester, Bungay and of course London.

Bring in your medal and race number and receive a special 25% discount.
We'd love to see you and we'll post pictures of you with your medal to share with the #SportlinkRunningFamily


Paul Evans will be doing another special promotion day for us, but this time at Taverham.

“Did you run in the London Marathon or indeed would like to next year?”….then come along and meet Paul Evans, two time Olympian, Chicago Marathon winner, Great North Run Runner Up and 3rd place finisher in the London Marathon, at Sportlink Taverham between 11am and 1pm - April 28th.

#Marathon #Legend #Sportlink

Neil Featherby: My advice to anyone running the London Marathon in the heat this weekend










Running a 10k in heat is bad enough, but when it comes to the marathon, then things really do change and need to be considered.

As we run and exercise, our body temperature rises and even more so when it is warm. To try and maintain a balance, the cooling actions of the body diverts blood to the skin surface to remove the heat through body sweat as it evaporates.

However, the more we sweat, the more fluid we lose which also causes the blood to become thicker.

Humid conditions make for even more problems as when the sweat on our body cannot evaporate, the cooling down processes of the body becomes even more difficult.

With these actions all taking place and with there being less blood pumped to the organs and working muscles, what may have been a desired set pace is now much more difficult to maintain due to the heart having to work even harder.

For those who monitor their heart rate during the race, they will have the choice to work to a specific effort relating to heart rate intensity, but of course this will also mean that the pace is down somewhat when running in such conditions.

What with the driven nature of serious athletes, many will of course still push on in the hope of hitting the target time which they have trained so hard for.

Whilst there is no way that I would ever want to dampen down anyone’s focus and motivation going into this race, serious attention does need to be considered as our long term health is so important and dehydration can lead to serious consequences.

Twenty-eight years ago, I raced a marathon in Minnesota for which I am sure to this day that I was in as good a shape as I had ever been and knew a PB was possible.

However, the temperature rose to 77F very soon after the start of the race and whilst I stupidly hung on to pace until nearly 20 miles, I completely blew a gasket and finished in 2:23:15.

After crossing the finish line I remember being a little delirious and started going cold and staggering around for which I was rushed off to the medical tent to be hooked up to an intravenous drip, having four bags of a saline solution put back into me such was the state of my dehydrated body.

I can honestly say I felt like I had a hangover for months afterwards as well.

Therefore and if the temperature is what the forecasters suggest it is going to be, for all those running on Sunday, please make sure you start the run hydrated (but not over hydrated).

Drink 500ml of water a couple of hours before and have another small drink (150ml) just before the start. Then drink water or better still a low carbohydrate/electrolyte drink at very regular intervals.

Needless to say body size will dictate, but little amounts and often i.e. approx 150/200 mls every 15/20 minutes should suffice.

Pour water over the back of your head and neck too or wear a neckerchief like many of the greats used to years ago and keep it wet throughout the run.

Needless to say wear lightweight clothing too and have a great run and one which is memorable for the right reasons.

Everyone’s a winner!

After last Sunday’s Larking Gowen City of Norwich Half Marathon, I put a post up with pictures of the race on Facebook.

I also mentioned that I had heard over the PA system that everyone is a winner.

For some reason, some people thought I was taking the mick. However, they couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are those who are very competitive for which their only aim is to race or record a PB.

If they didn’t race to the best of their ability or gain a new PB, there is every likelihood that they would argue that everyone isn’t a winner or not in their case.

Nevertheless and for those who just wanted to get round with perhaps their only ambition being to complete 13.1 miles and get the medal put round their neck after crossing the finish line, well they most certainly were winners.

Mass participation races are filled with a mix of very competitive elite athletes, good standard runners, recreational runners and fitness enthusiasts who perhaps just want to achieve what might be a personal goal for which in the past they thought not possible.

As we all now know, people of all ages, shapes sizes and abilities are having a go and taking part.

It is this taking part which is what helps to make all these events great and keep running the popular sport and past time it is. Long may it continue!

Get well soon Chris

Lastly and going back to taking care of yourself when running in extreme conditions. All the very best to Chris Merrylees who is a most popular local runner and one who I have mentioned several times in these columns during the last few months.

Chris is such a dedicated athlete, be it for his own aspirations or indeed when helping others. Last week he collapsed during the Brighton Marathon and was taken to hospital. Since returning home he has had to go back to hospital again for more checks. He is currently recovering and for all those who know him, they will also know that he is one heck of a tough guy.

However, and at the same time, it does just show how fragile it all can be. Get well soon Chris!

Craig Bowen-Jones Virgin Money London Marathon Run









It's the countdown to the Virgin Money London Marathon this Sunday.

Today we feature seasoned runner Craig Bowen-Jones who is coached by Neil Featherby and asked him 3 questions ahead of the big day.

With just 4 days to go, how’s your training been going and how do you feel right now about Sunday?

Training been great and fingers crossed it should be another good run.
How do I feel right now? umm... a bit tired as in the middle of a 24 hour carb depletion.

And how do I feel for Sunday? In a funny way I can not wait to get to the start line and the gun to go off. It has been a long 4 months training and especially over the last 2 months. The anti has gone up and Neil has pushed me harder than ever before but in a funny way I really enjoy pushing myself in each session especially when you reap the rewards when you cross the finish line with another PB (fingers crossed)

On the morning of the race, what routine and rituals will you go through the few hours before the start?

Nothing special really, I have breakfast with porridge which I have all the time before my long runs. On the coach journey to the start which is about 1 hour, I don't speak to anyone and just put my headphones on and listen to music. At the start about 1 hour before I would get changed into my running gear, vest, shorts, socks and trainers and put the Vaseline on in the appropriate places. After that 1 strong black coffee with a sugar. And that’s it bar trying to get as much pee out before I go into the start pen.

What will be going through your mind on the start line?

I will normally be saying to myself “Jonesy don’t go off to fast and keep to the pace Neil said”
As well as that, I try and persuade my bladder that it doesn't need another pee.

Craig's running for TheFeed this year and we all wish him a great run.
If you would like to sponsor him here's the link.
#ReasonToRun #LondonMarathon #RunningForTheFeed

Tomorrow we'll be featuring Stephen Gibbs from Sportlink as he gives us his insight into his training and how he feels about the big day.

Neil Featherby: One the eve of the Norwich half marathon we have real inspiration in Dani Nimmock









My last two columns have been dedicated to marathon running – and this week is going to be no different.

After what was an absolutely fantastic performance by City of Norwich AC athlete Danni Nimmock in winning the Manchester Marathon last Sunday, there is no way I could not give her a mention.

To win any marathon is brilliant, but to win a big city marathon is just something else!

She made it clear very early on this year when she clocked 33:44 at the Telford 10k that she knew exactly what her aims were.

I saw her finish literally just behind the men in fourth place overall at the Freethorpe 10-mile road race just a couple of weeks after her Telford performance and to say she actually looked fresher than the three men ahead of her is not an exaggeration.

City of Norwich Half Marathon start. Picture: Archant

Not only was it a great win for her last Sunday, but her time of two hours and 38 minutes was also excellent.

She most certainly has a great future ahead of her, in which I can only see her achieving even more success.

At the same time, I am also sure that she will have inspired so many others as we now approach this Sunday’s Larking Gowen City of Norwich Half Marathon and, of course, those who are running in the Brighton and London marathons during the next two weekends.

As always, you only get out what you put in, and Dani has most certainly epitomised this.

Dani Nimmock crosses the finish line in Manchester. Picture:

The work she has done in the past with Tim and Pauline Ash and now her highly qualified sports scientist and sports physiologist husband Mark Burgess, has been pretty meticulous, to say the least.

Talking of the Larking Gowen City of Norwich Half Marathon, once again this superbly well-organised race has come round again and each year I am so impressed by all the efforts of those taking part and the hard work put in by the organisers to make this such a great event.

Hugh McGill, Richard Polley and Granville Courtnell, along with all their hard-working team from within the club (CONAC), really do go to great efforts to make this race a success and I wish them and all the runners taking part the very best of luck for the 33rd running of this event.

I so well remember running in the very first one back in 1985 when it was organised by Mike Wilkinson and the Duke Street Runners.

With 1,400 runners taking part, I got caught on the line for third place after having a tussle (literally) all the way round with a really tough British international runner by the name of Andy Girling as we both crossed the line together in 66:03.

The race that day and first ever winner was another international, and former London Marathon third-placer, Dennis Fowles from Cardiff, who crossed the finish line in 65:11 with Cambridge Harrier, Keith Penney in second position.

Neil Featherby’s Bungay Marathon Memories








Bungay Festival of Running - Neils Marathon win in 89' and Half Marathon in 86

With this weekend’s Bungay Festival of Running, it most certainly takes me back to when I made my return to competitive racing in 1982 after what had been an eight year layoff. However, for my first race back after all those years, it just so happened that I had to travel all the way to the West Midlands for what was the first Wolverhampton Marathon. So where does the Bungay Marathon come into all of this? Well it was during the weeks and months of training for Wolverhampton when I just happened to read in the EDP that there was going to be a marathon in Bungay around the same time. My initial thoughts turned to binning the big race in the Midlands for this one much nearer to home, but at the same time my mind was also geared to starting what I had finished. Anyway, I did indeed line up at Wolverhampton with just the aim of getting round like many others and then settle back into non competitive life again. At the time, I had only ever ran beyond 20 miles once which ended in stress fractures, so for this one I did not dare train beyond 16 miles. The day itself went really well until 22 miles when I really did hit the wall, but at the same time still managed to run just over 2 hours 30 mins which was regarded as a decent time especially with it being my very first and after such a long break from running. Nevertheless, even with the pain of those last four miles, that was it as far as I was concerned. I had done what I set out to do which meant no more marathons for me! However, very soon after that, I picked up the EDP and there it was a full report on the very first Bungay marathon. The race had been won by a local legend Vic Holman from Thetford AC in just over 2 hours 30 mins with his club mate Dave Goodwin just behind him. I was totally engrossed reading the detailed report thinking that I may have been able to get close to those guys and with a bit more training behind me, maybe I could even win this race one day. The thought of competitive retirement was now well and truly gone and a quick call to another local running legend Mike Wilkinson soon had me getting the race shoes out again and the Bungay Marathon (along with others) was now on my radar and “a to do list” so to speak.
To say the next few years of my life were filled with running is an understatement although I didn’t actually get to Bungay until 1986 and even then it was to take part in the Half Marathon as part of my preparations for what I was hoping was going to be a 2:17 clocking in The London Marathon a couple of weeks later. I went into the race off 130 miles that week having also recently won the Bury St Edmunds 20 miler and Rutland Water 17 which were pretty tough races and I was thinking just how tired I was feeling. I looked around at the other runners which included one of my good friends and rival and thought if you can’t beat me today then you never will. I took off from the gun and despite feeling pretty heavy legged, I did win it albeit in a time (68 mins). This was at least two minutes slower than what I wanted to run, which I put down to my tiredness and I think it is fair to say the course, which is not only undulating but pretty open and exposed too. As for London….not a good day finishing in 2:21 which was a blow having run 2:20 in that race the year before and 2:19 in Berlin. As it happens I did indeed run 2:17 a few months later which I do actually put down to all the hard work completed earlier in the year and of course having ran at Bungay too.

Bungay-Half-Marathon-1986-Red-Shirt1986 - Neil Featherby leads the pack  

Whilst the next few years were spent racing all over the place, I finally made it to Bungay for the full marathon albeit seven years after the first. It was now 1989 for which I was thinking if I don’t do this soon, it is not going to happen. I had just run in the Malta marathon finishing 3rd and won the Wymondham 20, but most importantly I had also now started work in the sports trade for which my then boss asked me to take the shop along to the race. “Not a problem” I said “and I might as well now enter the full marathon if you don’t mind working the standing while I am running”. Back then, both races started together i.e. the Half and the Full which was two laps instead of one. I wasn’t too sure of my race fitness having eased off after the races earlier in the year for which I just settled into a leading group of what I knew were half marathon runners. In the group were a number of friends from local clubs who I was chatting a way with until 7 miles when a runner from Nottingham took off. His team mate was also in the group and said he’s away for another win. “Really, who is he”? I said. “He wins lots of races” came the reply. I looked around and said to the Norfolk contingent, “are you going to let him go”, but no one answered, so I went after him and caught him up staring at him as I did so before saying “what time are you looking for today” only for him to reply “about 70 minutes”. I already knew he was doing the Half, but said “oh right, I thought you were doing the full as that is what I am doing” and then put another burst in. Looking back that was pretty arrogant, but it blew his mind and he completely blew up and finished 7th allowing the local lads to make their way to the front. Nevertheless, there was perhaps a deserved payback for my earlier arrogance and whilst I did actually complete the first lap ahead of all the half marathon runners in just over 70 mins to the delight of my new boss, I now had to do a second lap all on my own and it really was a chore. Out front on my own going up and down the hills with a fairly stiff breeze head on as I made my way round the second lap. I just shut off and decided to run this second lap and complete the miles without any pressure. I did look behind a few times, but there was no one in sight and eventually finished the race in 1st place in just a few seconds over 2:30 and as it happens in front of the Anglia TV cameras who had come out to film the event. Ironically, my finishing time was about the same as what the first ever Bungay marathon was won in which at the time had grabbed so much of my attention and I had now ticked one of my marathon boxes off in completing such a well organised race.

Winning The Bungay Marathon 1989
1989 - Neil crosses the finish line

The winners cup

Since the 1980’s I have seen several running booms come and go whereby many UK marathons have disappeared. However, Bungay has never faulted apart from one year when there was a foot and mouth outbreak. The Bungay Marathon or I should say The Bungay Festival of Running is now very firmly established as part of the local and even UK Race calendar. Hats off and a huge well done to Bungay Black Dog Running Club and all the very best to them and all runners taking part this coming weekend.




It's SALE time this EASTER BANK HOLIDAY weekend!

Grab yourself a bargain from our stores and get...

UP TO 50% OFF a great selection of clearance stock.
20% OFF all Marathon Shoes.
25% OFF all kids gear.

Plus 20% OFF Asics gel sonoma trail shoes.

And you know us...They'll be plenty of Easter fun too!

Sale starts Friday 30th March at 10am through to Monday 28th 4pm.
Both stores closed on Easter Sunday.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Saucony Celebrates 120th Anniversary









Saucony Celebrates 120th Anniversary

One hundred and twenty years ago this month, the first Saucony shoe was born on the high banks of the Saucony Creek in Kutztown, PA. It was 1898, just two years after the first Olympic Marathon and one year after the first Boston Marathon. Today, as the waters of that creek continue to flow, so does Saucony’s relentless focus on next-generation running technology.

Saucony will mark its 120th anniversary with a series of events and celebrations in 2018, beginning with the launch of the Shadow 5000 EVR, an advanced interpretation of the brand’s iconic Shadow 5000, one of the most sought-after silhouettes of the 1980s. Featuring a full-length EVERUN™ midsole from the brand’s present line of award-winning performance footwear, an engineered breathable knit upper, and a leather heel counter and badging, the Shadow 5000 EVR celebrates Saucony’s authentic past with an innovative nod to the future. The limited-edition Shadow 5000 EVR launches today in three colorways−Red/Green, Black/Teal and Triple White.

Saucony: 120 Years of History

Saucony (pronounced “sock-uh-knee”) traces its early roots to the banks of the Saucony Creek in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Native American inhabitants of the area coined the Saucony name, which translated means “where two rivers run together.” Today, the Saucony logo represents the endless flow of that waterway, along with its boulder-strewn creek bed, depicted by the three distinct dots within the brand’s “river” mark.
In 1906, the Saucony Shoe Manufacturing Company built its first factory, a solid brick two-story construction along the Saucony Creek. At the same time, on the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Russian immigrant cobbler Abraham Hyde had opened a shoe store manufacturing and selling “carpet slippers” made from rug remnants. By 1940, the Hyde footwear line had grown to include baseball shoes, roller boots, and bowling shoes. During the 1960s, the company produced footwear for NASA astronauts, including the boots worn by one of the first American astronauts to walk in space.
By 1968, the Saucony Shoe Manufacturing Company was now producing running shoes. Hyde acquired the seventy-year-old company and relocated the footwear brand to its Cambridge headquarters. The brand didn’t make waves as a running powerhouse until 1977, when the company’s shoes were recognized with an award for “Best Quality” by a U.S. consumer magazine. This built the launch pad for Saucony to take off as a leading brand for runners everywhere.

Saucony Timeline

• 1898 – Saucony founded on the banks of the Saucony Creek in Kutztown, PA
• 1958 – Saucony launches its first track spike−the 7446−made of lightweight Kangaroo leather
• 1968 – NASA Astronaut Walter Cunningham wears boots made by Saucony for the Apollo 7 mission, the first manned Apollo flight
• 1977 – Saucony recognized with its first award by a major U.S. consumer magazine
• 1980 – Launch of the Trainer 80, the first slip-lasted running shoe
• 1981 – Saucony launches the Jazz, the most technical performance running shoe of its time, later becoming the centerpiece of the Saucony Originals Collection
• 1983 – Saucony athlete Rod Dixon of New Zealand wins the New York City Marathon
• 1985 – Saucony athlete Lisa Larsen Weidenbach is women’s winner of the Boston Marathon
• 1991 – Launch of the Saucony GRID™ system, the first midsole technology to offer both cushioning and stability
• 1994 – Saucony athlete Greg Welch wins the Ironman World Triathlon Championships
• 1997 – Saucony athlete Heather Fuhr wins the Ironman World Triathlon Championships
• 2006 – Saucony launches the Saucony Run for Good Foundation™, established to help end childhood obesity by providing grants to nonprofits that support kids’ running programs
• 2008 – Saucony makes its first vegan shoes as part of the Originals Collection
• 2011 – Launch of the Saucony Innovation & Human Performance Lab
• Launch of Geometry of Strong technology platform
• 2014 – Launch of ISOFIT™ dynamic fit system
• 2016 – Triumph ISO2 named by Runner’s World as “Best Shoe in the World” for 2016; Launch of EVERUN™ continuous cushioning technology
• 2017 – Launch of the Freedom Track Club, a Boston-based elite running group dedicated to developing future Olympians
• 2018 – Saucony celebrates 120th anniversary with launch of the Shadow 5000 EVR












We thank our friends at the Great Yarmouth & District Athletic Club for hosting this fabulous race and look forward to seeing you all there.

The HUMPTY DUMPTY 10k takes place at 10:30am on Sunday 24th June 2018!

The 11th HUMPTY DUMPTY 10K incorporates the Norfolk County Championships and is a circular route through quiet country roads.

Cash Prizes for the 1st Male & Female - £100, 2nd £75 & 3rd £50. Course Record Bonus for 1st Male & Female £50 - Male 32:16, Female 35:46 Extensive Prize List with Age Categories, Senior to 39, 40 in 5 year bands to Male 70+ & Female 65+. Every finisher will receive a commemorative memento & a Medal.


If you have any questions about this year's race please contact the race director, Pat Brightman, via

Going the distance – Karen Hamilton

Every Month we now feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A.
This month it's Karen Hamilton.







When did you first start to run?
I have always exercised. I taught aerobics back in the day when it was all leotards and slouch socks! Running first started in my mid-twenties when I lived in Sheffield. I was a teacher at the time and rather than travel across the city to an exercise class after work, I decided to don a pair of trainers and give running a whirl. I lived right on the outskirts of the Peak District so running involved a lengthy climb up followed by a much quicker run back. I loved it, the freedom, the scenery, the challenge was unlike any other exercise I had done before. Then for many years life got in the way a little and I did not start running again until four years ago. My son was then starting school and I had a little more time on my hands. It was then that I fell completely and utterly in love with the sport. A couple of years later I joined Waveney Valley AC who I run with currently.

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
I prefer to run in the morning. You can guarantee that whatever the day throws at you, things always seem a little easier if you have run. The rewards come when you know you have worked hard. One of my favourite sayings being ‘If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you’ve always got ‘. This stands true with running you get out what you put in!!

What’s your biggest running achievement?
I like to think it’s yet to come! Having sustained an injury two years ago that left me unable to even walk pain free for 6 months I am still battling daily pain. I would hope when I am able to train properly that I will get some good times for the longer distances which I much prefer.

What in the world motivates a person to run long distance?
Well why not? In my book if you love something why wouldn’t you want to do something for longer. To run for longer and at great pace well that’s something completely different! I completely admire all the runners out there that are pushing the limits of what their body can achieve.

What kinds of things do you think about as you run?
Haha love this one. When not running my mind is constantly off in a million different directions at once. I would like to say when I am running it thinks of nothing at all, but in fact I am still thinking of a million things, only that those things are more to do with what my body is doing. I think of my pace, my breathing, how far I am going, how my legs are feeling… That is why I love running so much, it reminds you of your physicality. When you hit a spot where your mind and body are in unison, that in itself is pure freedom.

One the day of the big race…how are you feeling? Are you performing any superstitious rituals (like wearing the same unwashed socks you trained in for months)?
I haven’t entered too many races of late, mostly due to the injury that has plagued me the last two years, but the races I have done I get very nervous just before. My very first race was the Larking Gowen City of Norwich Half marathon. I had flu, had been up all night and it was torrential rain. I was so nervous that I thought I might pass out on the start line but like I always say to anyone scared of their first race, as soon as you take your first step the nerves just go. The only pressure is what we put on ourselves everyone else is just focused on their race. I still get ridiculously nervous but I do like to heap the pressure on myself!

What’s your next race?
Bit of a sore subject at the moment as I’ve had to withdraw from so many the past year, but I am lucky enough to have a place in The Great North Run 2018. Also Run Norwich 10K in August. The Ekidon is always good fun to do as well.

What’s your favourite running shoe?
Hoka Vanquish, although I am very much looking forward to trying their new Elevon.

Who’s your running hero?
I was lucky enough to run with Ben Smith when he came to Lowestoft, as he ran his 401 marathons in 401 days. Ben uses his running to make people aware of the impact bullying has on people’s lives after being horrendously bullied at school. Anyone who uses running to the greater good or to carry a message gets my vote.

What’s the best thing about working at Sportlink?
Everything. People continue to surprise me every day with their achievements and aspirations. We talk about running all day and have a good laugh with it. We are all so passionate about what we do and the fact that we all run at different levels means we can relate to every runner no matter what their ability. When I first started working in Halesworth I didn’t realise what a positive impact Sportlink would have on my life. As I say now Sportlink is not a job, it’s a way of life!!!



Pete Johnson gave his views to Neil Featherby on how running has changed over the years.

Picture: Archant








As we get ever nearer to spring and all the road races and marathons, this week I decided to ask a man who is so well known to everyone in Norfolk about his thoughts on the current day running scene.

Having owned the very popular Runners Centre in Norwich for 17 years, we at Sportlink are now so very lucky to have the services of Pete Johnson, who is undoubtedly one of Norfolk’s most popular runners.

After non stop chatter from me, Pete, calmly took a deep breath and answered every one of my questions which I think is fair to say, with a lot of thought and obvious passion for his sport and everything which goes with being a runner.

“Without wanting to sound like an extra in Monty Python’s Four Yorkshire Men,” he said. “After 30 years of running, much of the emphasis has now most definitely changed from when I first took up running in 1986, which back then was considered to be a competitive sport irrespective of your standard.

“Nowadays for many it is very much about running for pleasure and being healthy and there’s nothing wrong with that of course.

MORE: 2018 road race calendar

“In fact you could even say that it is fashionable to run these days.

“Going back to the 1980s and 90s there were far fewer races around which meant you had to travel more widely, which of course meant racing against runners and clubs who had also travelled from afar to be there.

“Needless to say this also meant that you were guaranteed to have a tough race what with the standard being much higher and you would very much run from the heart with not being too sure what the guys running beside you were capable of.

“Nowadays you can almost predict where you will finish in a race whilst of course running against your GPS watch which controls the pace you want to run at.

“Whilst it sounds like I am knocking today’s changes, I most certainly don’t mean to. It is just that you asked me what my thoughts are with regards to back then and now.

“Running for a club as a distance runner very much meant that you were going to compete on the road, with perhaps a bit of track in the summer and cross country during the winter whereas now you have a completely new form of off road running with all these obstacle races being organised which charge quite a lot of money to take part in them.

“It’s the same with parkruns. Whilst it is absolutely fantastic for getting the nation up and running, it really should not be confused with 5k races or 12.5 laps of the track in athletics terms.

MORE: Make the technology advancements work for you

“Even The London Marathon was a case of you either had to be able to run 2 hours 40 mins or you had to queue up in the ballot like everyone else. Unfortunately I can most definitely hear myself sounding like one of the old codgers in my younger days for which if you are going to write about me Neil, please give it the heading of A view from over The Hill!”

Pete is so very much one of those people who has a very realistic outlook on his running and life. He recently turned 64, but can still out run many who are half his age.

Whilst he can boast PBs of 4:23 for 1500 metres, 15:42 - 5k, 32:59 - 10k, 53:40 - 10 miles and 2:32:48 for the marathon, even to this present day he is still turning out times of 19 mins for 5k, and just over the hour for 10 miles.

As for being over the hill….not by a long shot!










With the daylight hours now getting longer and spring just around the corner, it also means that April and the marathon season is nearly here. After weeks and months of getting yourself in the best shape possible, now is the time to make sure that when you stand on the start line, your shoes are also in the best possible shape so as to help you produce a fantastic performance on your Big Day.

20% OFF All shoes this month for those running in the Bungay – Manchester – Brighton and London Marathons.


We are delighted to announce we are playing host to a special Saucony Stride Lab with Ken Hoye BSc Sports Science (Hons) LSSM Dip. Sports Scientist and Sports Massage therapist.
Saucony Shadow rep.

Each Stride Lab appointment lasts for 45 minutes.

Spaces are limited and totally free on a first come first served basis.
If you would like to book then you will need to register here. Just follow the instructions.

Don't miss out on this innovative gait assessment system providing an in depth analysis of your unique stride characteristics. The high level of feedback provided can improve running advice and footwear selection.

Neil Featherby: My tips on how you can beat the Beast of the East and keep your training on track

What a week and when the weather forecasters forewarned us that there was a Beast from the East making his way towards us, I wonder how many of us were really prepared?








Neil Featherby out with his dogs and his running group. Picture: Neil Featherby

For those who can remember January 1987, they are comparing this current arctic like cold spell to then.

I can most certainly recall it.

I was preparing for the Hong Kong International Marathon at the time and it was an absolute nightmare trying to get the much needed training sessions in whilst sticking to what was a very disciplined schedule which had been put together very carefully with my then training advisor Ian Fowlie and agent Pete Duhig.

Pete kept telling me to drive over to his neck of the woods where the weather wasn’t quite as severe as it was around my home in Hellesdon and Ian kept telling me to relax as I was more than fit enough.

EDP030318.2Neil Featherby out with his dogs and his running group. Picture: Neil Featherby

However, back then my mindset was one of needing to stick to a plan and if I didn’t it would affect my way of thinking going into the race.

Despite my frustrations, I did my very best to get the miles in whilst trying to do intervals and reps in track spikes. I was climbing over cars that had ground to a halt in ten foot snow drifts.

When I took a call from one of the EDP’s writers earlier this week asking me for advice and tips for those who are training hard for one of the many marathons and half marathons which are due to take place during the next month or two, it most certainly took me back to that crazy cold spell.

Nevertheless and after filling him in with all the above details, I then went on to calmly say, providing you wear the right equipment i.e. grippy shoes and just layer up with the appropriate clothing, then all should be fine and it really should be no big deal.

EDP030318.3Neil Featherby has been out with his running group this week. Picture: Neil Featherby

However, back then my mindset was one of needing to stick to a plan and if I didn’t it would affect my way of thinking going into the race.

Despite my frustrations, I did my very best to get the miles in whilst trying to do intervals and reps in track spikes. I was climbing over cars that had ground to a halt in ten foot snow drifts.

When I took a call from one of the EDP’s writers earlier this week asking me for advice and tips for those who are training hard for one of the many marathons and half marathons which are due to take place during the next month or two, it most certainly took me back to that crazy cold spell.

Nevertheless and after filling him in with all the above details, I then went on to calmly say, providing you wear the right equipment i.e. grippy shoes and just layer up with the appropriate clothing, then all should be fine and it really should be no big deal.


EDP030318.3Neil Featherby has been out with his running group this week. Picture: Neil Featherby

I also went on to say, if in the “unlikely event” of it being as bad as back in January 87, then runners will have to be just as determined and pragmatic as I had to be 31 years ago.

Needless to say not necessarily going out for 15 mile road runs in track spikes, but look to find trails which are perhaps not as treacherous as what the roads and pavements can become and at least they now have the opportunity to use a treadmill if they can get to one.

Since that call, the so called Beast from the East has very much left his mark and I wonder what I would have said if I had of taken that call all those years ago asking me the same questions.

As for getting out there running in this weather, well I have to say I am loving it.

I live in the village of Felthorpe and I have the luxury of lots of woodland all around me as well as having five, four-legged training partners who are naturals when it comes to running in such conditions.

On this occasion I am making the very most of it as are some of my training group who have been popping round to borrow them!

Neil Featherby's EDP Feature 2nd March 2018













The Dereham 10 Miler. Entries now open. SUNDAY MAY 13TH

This will be the 4th Sportlink Sponsored Grand Prix Event and hosted by our friends Dereham Runners.

And also incorporates the Norfolk County Champs.

Prize Money for 1st - £100, 2nd - £50, 3rd - £25, Male/Female.
Course Record £50 M/F.

For further information go to our the Dereham Runner Events page - Here


Sportlink Grand Prix Race – Results









Sportlink Grand Prix Race 2. Top 20 results - Results PDF

We are now pleased to attached the results of the SPORTLINK Grand Prix Series 2018 – Race 1 & 2.  As we have an overwhelming 1150 finishers, we have just displayed the Top 20 finishers in each category.

Category age groups are based on your age as at 31st December 2018, therefore you may be in a different category than on Race Day.  The Winners of each category will be based on your top 8 finishes.

Pat Brightman

Charlotte Neale North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:05:00 97 39:01 99 196
Kate Murrell Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club 1:05:35 96 39:26 97 193
Alicia Lacey Norwich Road Runners 1:08:05 95 40:38 95 190
Jessica Behan Norwich Road Runners 1:10:25 93 42:10 93 186
Sarah Peachey Wymondham AC 1:10:19 94 42:15 92 186
Roisin Marks Norwich Road Runners 1:12:09 92 43:09 90 182
Juliette Watkinson Wymondham AC 1:14:19 89 42:43 91 180
Linzi Geens Norwich Road Runners 1:14:28 88 46:04 85 173
Rebecca Pountain Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:16:34 85 45:03 86 171
Natalie Cant Norwich Road Runners 1:20:13 79 43:38 89 168
Kathryn Head North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:15:55 86 47:42 79 165
Jodie Causer Norwich Road Runners 1:17:46 83 46:36 81 164
Melissa Baker Norwich Road Runners 1:19:31 80 48:30 76 156
Hayley Strivens 1:21:06 74 46:35 82 156
Charlotte El-Labany Wymondham AC 1:20:55 75 48:28 77 152
Emma Fox Bure Valley Harriers 1:26:46 63 48:40 75 138
Emmaalouise Smith Norwich Road Runners 1:27:35 60 50:10 71 131
Katie Mack City Of Norwich AC 1:21:23 72 52:51 58 130
Kaylee Meachen City Of Norwich AC 1:21:22 73 52:51 57 130
Katherine Wright North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:26:08 64 52:31 61 125
LADIES 40-44
Alexandra Smith Wymondham AC 1:08:27 99 41:40 100 199
Deborah English Norwich Road Runners 1:10:59 98 42:23 99 197
Emma Blake Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:12:20 97 44:32 96 193
JOANNA KILLINGWORTH Norwich Road Runners 1:14:27 96 43:48 97 193
Zoe Jones Wymondham AC 1:17:49 91 45:32 95 186
Cassie Barker Wymondham AC 1:16:32 94 47:46 91 185
Louise Grinsdale Norwich Road Runners 1:18:25 89 46:47 92 181
Lisa Pyatt Ryston Runners 1:19:23 88 46:16 93 181
May Wong Lowestoft Road Runners 1:21:33 85 49:07 90 175
Christine Ashton 1:24:42 80 49:58 89 169
Jen Armstrong North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:25:31 75 50:01 88 163
Samantha Appleyard-Smith 1:26:00 74 51:23 86 160
Lisa Hall Norwich Road Runners 1:31:07 66 52:51 85 151
Fay Wheeler Wymondham AC 1:29:35 69 55:25 82 151
Lyn Ottaway Wymondham AC 1:37:51 59 55:38 81 140
Clare Gooch Norwich Road Runners 1:40:46 50 56:23 74 124
Samantha Arterton 1:39:43 52 58:26 70 122
Helen Alefounder 1:39:17 53 58:38 68 121
Cat Cummings Wymondham AC 1:05:45 100 100
Claire Berridge 1:42:05 45 1:08:49 53 98
LADIES 45-49
Sabina Spence Bure Valley Harriers 1:08:44 100 42:08 100 200
Penny Studley Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:16:03 96 44:08 99 195
Kirsty Winter 1:16:56 95 45:52 96 191
Vicky Tovell Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:19:54 92 45:45 97 189
Christina Spooner North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:17:22 94 47:07 93 187
Louise Holland Wymondham AC 1:23:35 89 50:33 92 181
Joanna Godwin Wymondham AC 1:25:35 85 52:05 89 174
Jane Trudgill Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:24:55 86 52:31 87 173
Vicky Day Wymondham AC 1:38:29 69 57:58 81 150
Julie Winner Wymondham AC 1:35:38 72 59:12 78 150
Fran Morgan 1:36:42 70 1:02:54 75 145
Helen Lewis 1:43:40 60 56:35 83 143
Sara Shorten Norwich Road Runners 1:49:21 57 1:02:54 74 131
Teresa Simons Norwich Road Runners 1:48:31 58 1:06:03 72 130
Alison Bilyard Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:51:21 55 1:06:44 71 126
Joanne Mason 1:58:42 48 1:05:38 73 121
Helen Fiske Norwich Road Runners 1:58:24 49 1:13:43 68 117
Theresa Dooley Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:10:33 99 99
Sharon Hurren Wymondham AC 1:11:42 98 98
Rebecca Maun North Norfolk Beach Runners 45:20 98 98
LADIES 50-54
Nicky Dowson Norwich Road Runners 1:21:34 95 48:04 99 194
sally cushing Norwich Road Runners 1:28:13 90 49:26 98 188
Adele Bushell Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:31:50 82 54:28 94 176
Nicola Rands North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:32:14 81 55:24 90 171
Hayley Gerrard Norwich Road Runners 1:35:16 74 54:34 93 167
Debbie Smith Harlow RC 1:32:35 79 56:45 88 167
Samantha Stedman-Jones Bungay Black Dog RC 1:32:26 80 56:47 87 167
Deborah Gillespie North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:46:47 68 59:43 82 150
Rosemary Matthewson 1:45:49 69 1:03:15 78 147
Lisa Rodgers Wymondham AC 1:48:44 65 1:01:25 81 146
Nilixa Devlukia 1:55:12 60 1:08:43 73 133
Dawn Cook Norwich Road Runners 1:58:24 58 1:13:43 69 127
Helen Mian Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:11:50 100 100
Elly Young Coltishall Jaguars RC 43:35 100 100
Sandra Roberts 1:14:53 99 99
Lucy Campbell Norfolk Harriers RC 1:18:16 98 98
Ruth Gaunt Norwich Road Runners 1:19:17 97 97
Sarah Jay Bure Valley Harriers 53:06 97 97
tracy BOWEN-JONES Bure Valley Harriers 53:09 96 96
Ruth Steele Norwich Road Runners 1:20:01 96 96
LADIES 55-59
Anna Coulborn Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:26:29 97 50:40 100 197
pauline leeves Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:22:30 98 53:09 99 197
Louise Adamson Waveney Valley AC 1:33:30 96 57:23 96 192
Valerie Gidney City Of Norwich AC 1:38:01 94 58:16 95 189
Sue Carver Norwich Road Runners 2:05:30 87 1:11:09 89 176
Helen Taylor Norwich Road Runners 1:57:51 89 1:14:04 87 176
Catherine Henery City Of Norwich AC 1:13:25 100 100
Jenny Sheahan 1:17:44 99 99
Jenny Mayne City Of Norwich AC 54:46 98 98
Jackie Eastaugh-king Norwich Road Runners 55:29 97 97
Helen Lloyd 1:34:35 95 95
Wendy Smith Norwich Road Runners 1:02:16 94 94
diane burton Wymondham AC 1:02:24 93 93
Linda Melton North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:38:25 93 93
Catherine Kenney 1:05:39 92 92
Jan Totterdale Dereham Runners & AC 1:40:11 92 92
Christine Ashe Bungay Black Dog RC 1:42:09 91 91
Sally Porter Bure Valley Harriers 1:05:49 91 91
Jayne Cook 1:52:24 90 90
sally kelly 1:06:40 90 90
LADIES 60-64
Alison Stewart Norwich Road Runners 1:21:18 98 48:14 100 198
Doreen Neal 1:28:06 96 52:38 99 195
Elaine Savvas 1:29:23 95 55:32 96 191
Sally Aspin Norwich Road Runners 1:35:18 91 55:06 97 188
Anne Ellen Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:18:55 100 100
Penny Edwards Norwich Road Runners 1:19:00 99 99
Elaine Hudson 52:52 98 98
Bobbie Sauerzapf Bungay Black Dog RC 1:27:01 97 97
TERESA SOLOMON 1:02:21 95 95
Amanda Gray 1:05:28 94 94
Rosemary Jackson Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:33:27 94 94
Susan Moore Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:34:14 93 93
Caroline Tayler Norwich Road Runners 1:34:28 92 92
Elaine Stone Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:36:45 90 90
Jayne Capps-Jenner Bungay Black Dog RC 1:38:56 89 89
Penelope Pullinger Bungay Black Dog RC 2:07:00 88 88
Jane Ashby Ryston Runners 1:27:48 100 52:53 100 200
Sheila Smith 1:37:01 99 57:20 98 197
Brenda Kinch North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:43:29 97 1:02:23 95 192
Lynda Moore Norwich Road Runners 1:51:07 95 1:07:03 93 188
gill woodhouse Dereham Runners & AC 55:58 99 99
carole spong Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:41:53 98 98
Jacqueline Wood Dereham Runners & AC 57:48 97 97
Stephanie Madden 1:02:21 96 96
Sandy Wells 1:47:37 96 96
Anita Betts Great Yarmouth Road Runners 2:09:56 94 94
Margaret Faherty Norwich Road Runners 1:04:03 94 94
Annette Galer 1:10:13 92 92
Anita Betts Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:16:43 91 91
Daniel Middleton Norwich Road Runners 54:30 99 34:51 98 197
Christopher Mickleburgh Norwich Road Runners 59:36 96 34:51 99 195
Sean Jermy Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:00:39 91 35:03 97 188
Marc Evans Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:03:22 83 36:30 94 177
Michael Savvas 1:02:25 86 37:29 91 177
John Scoggins City Of Norwich AC 1:03:31 82 36:23 95 177
carl white Norwich Road Runners 1:03:16 84 37:48 89 173
Matt Howard Norwich Road Runners 1:03:56 79 38:34 86 165
Jake Stearman Dereham Runners & AC 1:08:39 71 37:59 88 159
Lewis Spurgin Norwich Road Runners 1:09:52 68 40:44 81 149
Ryan Kennedy Norwich Road Runners 1:11:22 62 40:31 82 144
Scott Williams Norwich Road Runners 1:10:21 66 43:46 68 134
Michal Grucelski 1:11:26 61 43:06 71 132
Luke Guy Norwich Road Runners 1:16:14 42 42:39 73 115
Robert Groves 1:15:07 47 45:11 63 110
Greg Tinder Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club 1:15:42 44 44:21 65 109
Samuel Coyne Bure Valley Harriers 34:04 100 100
Alan Darby Ely Runners 54:26 100 100
Ben Russell Norwich Road Runners 56:35 98 98
Jack Gillick Wymondham AC 57:24 97 97
MEN 40-44
Matt Pyatt Ryston Runners 57:40 99 35:01 98 197
Trevor Gannon Norwich Road Runners 1:04:06 96 37:21 96 192
Kristin Barnard Wymondham AC 1:01:26 97 37:48 94 191
Neil Adams North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:05:00 93 35:49 97 190
Marc Coles Norwich Road Runners 1:04:18 95 40:08 89 184
Dean Blake Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:12:20 77 33:22 100 177
Will McMorris 1:11:05 82 40:06 90 172
Chris Hosier Dereham Runners & AC 1:12:13 78 43:43 86 164
DAVID CROW Norwich Road Runners 1:13:20 76 42:54 87 163
Lee Emmett Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:11:36 81 48:20 81 162
David Foreman Norwich Road Runners 1:13:50 74 42:35 88 162
Alan Dawson 1:18:35 66 44:21 85 151
David Allen Norwich Road Runners 1:22:41 60 52:31 74 134
Joe Woodley Norwich Road Runners 2:05:33 49 1:04:32 66 115
Dominic Blake 55:12 100 100
Gary Crush City Of Norwich AC 34:07 99 99
Chris Merrylees North Norfolk Beach Runners 59:17 98 98
Paul Smith Norwich Road Runners 37:41 95 95
Paul Vincent Wymondham AC 1:04:47 94 94
Richard Johnson Wymondham AC 38:21 93 93
MEN 45-49
Darren Honour Bungay Black Dog RC 1:01:04 98 36:41 100 198
Mark Banfield Wymondham AC 1:01:29 97 36:50 99 196
Chris Haylock Lowestoft Road Runners 1:03:12 95 36:52 98 193
Chris Bullock Norwich Road Runners 1:02:29 96 37:52 95 191
Anthony Alborough Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:04:25 91 38:14 94 185
Karl Chapman Wymondham AC 1:08:03 83 40:14 91 174
Matthew Porter Norwich Road Runners 1:09:10 80 41:30 88 168
James Dunne Norwich Road Runners 1:09:46 78 44:25 84 162
Ashley Yellop Norwich Road Runners 1:13:22 69 44:08 86 155
Neil Walpole Norwich Road Runners 1:12:09 71 44:33 82 153
Mark Stone Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:14:43 65 44:18 85 150
Keith Walpole Norwich Road Runners 1:15:14 62 44:33 83 145
Simon Ottaway 1:17:48 59 44:50 81 140
Heath Alexander-Bew Wymondham AC 1:19:29 54 45:31 79 133
PAUL REEVE Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:18:26 56 45:48 77 133
Cathal Daly City Of Norwich AC 1:18:04 58 46:59 73 131
Robert Crockford Dereham Runners & AC 1:19:43 53 46:54 74 127
Rob Winner Wymondham AC 1:24:03 42 49:57 68 110
Scott Walford Bure Valley Harriers 58:09 100 100
Paul Youngman Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club 1:24:48 38 52:31 62 100
MEN 50-54
Jonathan Cordle Norwich Road Runners 1:05:06 99 38:53 100 199
Neil Button Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:07:39 97 40:02 96 193
Graham Johnson Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:09:14 95 41:38 93 188
Melvyn Porter Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:09:46 93 41:09 94 187
Martin Adcock Bure Valley Harriers 1:11:06 91 42:03 91 182
Thomas Lincoln-Kemp Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:10:05 92 42:20 90 182
Jon Shorten Norwich Road Runners 1:15:49 86 44:29 85 171
Gary Pillar Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:17:28 82 43:29 86 168
Gary Tuttle 1:17:08 84 46:36 82 166
James Nice City Of Norwich AC 1:18:17 81 45:30 84 165
Paul Smith Norwich Road Runners 1:18:21 80 46:29 83 163
Julian Smith Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:20:03 78 47:31 80 158
gavin thouless Norwich Road Runners 1:24:51 73 49:44 77 150
Wayne Ramsbottom Dereham Runners & AC 1:27:12 67 46:52 81 148
david graham Lowestoft Road Runners 1:27:10 68 48:42 78 146
Kevin Clark Bungay Black Dog RC 1:32:31 63 54:36 69 132
Lee Roth Waveney Valley AC 1:33:33 61 53:25 71 132
Kevin Rooney Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club 1:05:00 100 100
Tony Witmond North Norfolk Beach Runners 39:16 99 99
Matthew Pask Norwich Road Runners 1:05:42 98 98
MEN 55-59
Mark Garrett Norwich Road Runners 1:06:05 99 38:36 100 199
Kevin Frazer Wymondham AC 1:09:35 98 38:56 99 197
Stephen Neal Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:13:16 96 43:34 97 193
andrew rowles Dereham Runners & AC 1:19:58 86 47:18 93 179
Martin Perry 1:20:30 85 47:19 92 177
Phil Henry Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:23:52 82 46:07 94 176
Paul Emery Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:35:00 73 45:31 96 169
Keith Morris Ryston Runners 1:26:36 79 50:29 89 168
John Moore Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:00:49 100 100
Mark Griffin 43:21 98 98
Gary Grand Norwich Road Runners 1:09:55 97 97
Warren Newell 46:00 95 95
stephen Sadd Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:13:28 95 95
Leslie Hill Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:15:52 94 94
Chris Chorley Bungay Black Dog RC 1:15:57 93 93
Tom Townsend Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:16:12 92 92
Adrian Ebbs 1:16:32 91 91
Ian Hawkes Waveney Valley AC 47:37 91 91
Keith Brighty Norwich Road Runners 1:17:27 90 90
paul woodhouse 48:29 90 90
MEN 60-64
Guy Shearwood Norwich Road Runners 1:18:24 97 45:39 97 194
John Lee Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club 1:18:39 96 48:10 95 191
Stephen Read Bungay Black Dog RC 1:27:48 86 51:12 92 178
Ivan Lees Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:35:19 81 54:40 89 170
Yitzhak Ben-Aroya Wymondham AC 41:57 100 100
Terry Epps Wymondham AC 1:11:59 100 100
Pete Johnson Ryston Runners 42:34 99 99
Andrew Lane Wymondham AC 1:14:12 99 99
PETER LADDIMAN Norfolk Harriers RC 1:17:57 98 98
Nigel Lambert 45:27 98 98
Paul Evans 46:54 96 96
ROLAND SHAW Bungay Black Dog RC 1:19:24 95 95
Wayne Freeman Waveney Valley AC 1:19:27 94 94
paul Richardson 48:29 94 94
Adrian Dyde North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:20:01 93 93
Phil King 49:50 93 93
Robert Fleetcroft 1:21:55 92 92
Mik Carr Bungay Black Dog RC 1:22:12 91 91
Nicholas Eley Coltishall Jaguars RC 54:23 91 91
Greg Mills 1:23:11 90 90
MEN 65+
Stephen Dady Wymondham AC 1:11:37 100 43:01 100 200
Ken Bowman Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:14:22 98 44:23 98 196
Eamonn McCusker Ryston Runners 1:18:04 95 48:17 96 191
MICHAEL SMITH Wymondham AC 1:31:15 90 53:53 95 185
John Bound Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:42:18 85 59:23 91 176
David field Norwich Road Runners 1:41:51 86 59:52 90 176
Noel Spruce North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:37:40 87 1:00:03 89 176
Alan Varle Waveney Valley AC 1:43:20 84 1:01:23 87 171
Trevor Potter Norwich Road Runners 1:50:59 80 1:05:53 84 164
Neville Clarke Newmarket Joggers 1:13:27 99 99
Glen Nelson Bure Valley Harriers 43:39 99 99
Bill Kingaby Waveney Valley AC 1:15:12 97 97
Sam Weller North Norfolk Beach Runners 46:27 97 97
David Mower Waveney Valley AC 1:17:52 96 96
Philip Bamford City Of Norwich AC 1:21:43 94 94
Frank Ellis 54:49 94 94
Mike Ottley 56:30 93 93
Mark Tayler Norwich Road Runners 1:25:50 93 93
john bone Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:27:52 92 92
Bill Edmonds 59:13 92 92

Neil Featherby: A warning for anyone training for a marathon…it can become very addictive

Here we are halfway through February and while it may still seem weeks away for those who are all geared up for one of the big marathons in April, the truth is they will soon be standing on the start line with all the many months of training behind them.

Whilst it may be a case of so near yet still feel so far away, these next few weeks should be geared to peak mileage, that is for sure. There is no other event like the marathon – even the natural endurance athletes who challenge for the honours at the front of the race will get found out if they don’t put enough work in when it comes to pushing on during those last few painful miles.

For a large proportion of those who take part in the big city marathons like London, this will be their first time whereby their only challenge is to complete the distance of 26.2 miles and perhaps raise money for a great cause.

MORE; Take a look at our 2018 race calendar

Invariably many of these so-called novices will be following a basic programme to ensure they get round and needless to say once they have done so, the feelings of elation are almost second to none.

However, give it a few days and the thoughts of “I need to do this again”, creep in for which they have not only been bitten by the running bug, but are now also thinking that, if they train harder, they can actually achieve a better finishing time.

A few races at shorter distances down the line, along with new PBs popping up each time, they also start to realise that they have some natural ability themselves. As it happens I classify Mark (Armstrong) as one of these. Having completed his first two marathons, he now realises that he too can indeed achieve much more.

These people, along with the dedicated club runners, certainly train hard and for some it can quite easily develop into a situation of where running can take over. It goes from a case of trying to fit your running into your life to fitting your life into your running.

I’ve seen so many Facebook comments and requests for advice this week from non-club runners totally confused after reading so much conflicting information. This is where I fully endorse those who want to progress further to check out the local clubs and of course coaches who can provide the correct advice and keep everything delicately balanced.

MORE: Never underestimate what it takes to run a marathon

At the end of the day, the guys at the front of the field in big city marathons will be running sub five-minute miles for which they are likely to have track backgrounds. Mr sub four-hour marathon runner is highly unlikely to become one of them. But with lots of hard work and careful planning, I do believe there are plenty of first timers, who ‘just want to get round’ that have the potential to get their times down to levels beyond expectations. Perhaps a sub three-hour marathon, which is considered to be very worthy by many a club runner.

Finally, and just to give those that need a little further motivation, a top runner by the name of Steve Brace, who competed in the 1980s and 90s, came from pretty average beginnings. His first ever marathon was completed in 3:23 and he only went under three hours once by a few seconds in his first six attempts.

Steve went on to represent Great Britain in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics whilst also winning the Berlin and Paris Marathons. He also finished with a personal best of 2-10:35.

Keep believing!

Don’t forget to join the new Run Anglia group on Facebook here.

Sportlink Grand Prix Race

Entries now open - Wymondham AC 20 miler

Sunday 25th March 2018 - start 9.30am

Information from Wymondham AC website.


We are pleased to announce that entries for our 20 mile race on Sunday 25 March 2018 are now open on the Run Britain website.

This year we have decided not to offer a T shirt but we have instead reduced the price from £23/25 to £16/18 (for affiliated / non-affiliated runners). There will still be a good quality medal but we felt that most of our entrants already had enough T shirts and that we would like to encourage more entrants with a lower price.

The course is the same as in previous years: a two lap route on quiet, rural roads. It again starts in Wymondham’s historic Market Place. We do not operate a cut-off time but please note that almost all runners will finish in under 4 hours.

There will be free tea/coffee and cake for all runners afterwards and we will encourage you to donate to our nominated race charity. Please email any questions to our Race Director Andrew Lane at

Race HQ: Abbey Hall, 14 Church Street, Wymondham, NR18 0PH

All information here is taken from our friends at Wymondham AC website an can be found here

Going the distance – Steve Gibbs

Every Month we now feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A.
This month it's Steve Gibbs.






When did you first start to run?
It was during my last year of middle school, so I would have been 11 years old. At this point I was a keen swimmer, swimming for my local club and county. Our PE teacher entered a group of us into the Great Yarmouth Schools Cross Country at Somerleyton Hall. Apart from a few practise laps around the school field I had never experienced a cross country before but was told it would be muddy so ran in my football boots. I managed to win the race and went on to run for Norfolk Schools. After this I was invited to join my local athletics club Great Yarmouth and District Athletics Club, where my passion for track and field and running really took off. The rest as they say is history.

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
I love the simplicity and freedom of running. The fact you can just get out there and do it with very little organisation and planning. I do also love the way running mimics so many other things in life, you only get what you put in. There no cheating it. The most rewarding part of running to me is when you have a tough race or session where you push your body way past the point when your mind tells you stop. I love to experience and test myself constantly.


What’s your biggest running achievement?
I have been very fortunate to have achieved and experience some great things through running and feel fortunate to love a sport that I happened to be ok at. I don’t tend to talk too much about my biggest achievements, but these would include representing Norfolk and Wales in 800m/1500m and Cross Country along with a GBu20 vest for Cross country. Qualifying for the championship start at London Marathon is also up there as I remember watching the Marathon every year as a 12-13-year-old on the BBC telling all my family that one day I will run it. But I do have to say that my biggest achievement by far is being the 2-time reigning champion of the The Braydeston Mile.

What in the world motivates a person to run long distance?

Haha, Who knows! If I could have been a sprinter I would have, but unfortunately, I’m not very fast. Joking aside what motivates me is the total challenge of testing you body and more importantly you mind, seeing how far both can be pushed. Your head will always tell you stop way before your body needs too and I love testing myself to see how far both can be pushed. Distance running can not be cheated. You cannot turn up to a race without training and expect to perform. This is what motivates me to get out and put the miles in, knowing that the guys I will be racing are doing the same. That is why I believe there is so much mutual respect between runners of all levels as we all know how much work and effort each of us has put in to be on the start line.


What kinds of things do you think about as you run?
Not a lot really. My wife often asks me this question and honestly, I don’t really think of anything. I am not a deep thinker in life anyway. Obviously, I am always listening to my body and how it is performing, thinking about pace, cadence, driving forward through you toe, the normal stuff, but I have also been known to totally switch off on longer steady runs and run past roads I was supposed to turn down, not realising for a mile before turning around or adjusting my route.

On the day of the big race…how are you feeling? Are you performing any superstitious rituals (like wearing the same unwashed socks you trained in for months)?
I do still get nervous before any race. I think this is a good thing as it shows the race means something to you and that the body is preparing itself to work hard. I wouldn’t say I have any superstitions that if I didn’t do would stress me out, but I do like to wear a brand-new pair of socks for an important race. The rest is more of a tried and tested routine that I know works well for me. I will have the same breakfast, wear some compression tights the day before and morning of the race to give me that light leg feel and get to the venue early to have a good warm up. For races like London Marathon where you can buy lots of event t-shirts or items with the event name and year on it, I don’t like to get anything until I have completed the race.


What’s your next race?
My next goal race is the Virgin London Marathon, where I will be starting on the Championship start. I will race 2 half marathons before this about 5-6 weeks out. These will most likely be the Coventry Half Marathon and Colchester Half Marathon. They are both races I have done before and offer very different challenges on the course which make them ideal for my marathon preparations. If I can find a 10K a couple of weeks out from London I will also race that.

What’s your favourite running shoe?
I am a self-confessed shoe geek so love to have lots of running shoes. I do try and run in several different shoes of differing styles depending on the session or race I am doing. At the minute I am loving my On-Running collection. I train in the On Cloudflyer and On Cloudflow for my longer sessions and the On Cloudrush for more tempo runs. For the marathon I plan to use the On CloudX which a nice lightweight shoe which offers a great level of cushioning for the longer distance.


Who’s your running hero?
I have lots of running hero’s as I can’t think of anything better than watching track or road races and often sit watching older races on YouTube. In no particular order, Steve Prefontaine, Hicham el Guerrouj, Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, Ryan Hall, Eliud Kipchoge, Wilson Kipsang, Wilson Kipketer, Neil Featherby and Richard Sales. All honest athletes that work hard and make it a true run race. Not frightened to force the pace and lead when required.

What’s the best thing about working at Sportlink?
What can I say. Where else can you work with a bunch of like minded crazy people who are all totally focused on providing good honest advice about everything to do with running but can also back it up with tons of qualifications, knowledge, and experience. For me it’s the perfect place to work. I get to talk about running all day with a group of people who share my passion. I love hearing and talking to all our customers, hearing about their running goals and challenges as well as helping them progress further.


You can catch Steve at Sportlink Halesworth where he's based as the manager of the store.

Norfolk running is in great health but don’t underestimate what it takes to run a marathon

Friday 2nd February 2018 - EDP Feature, Neil Featherby.

Neil Featherby discusses what it takes and the sacrifices you have to make to run a marathon
After Sunday’s Freethorpe 10 mile road race, which of course was the first race in the 2018 Sportlink Grand Prix Series, it was so good to come away knowing that road running in Norfolk really is buzzing.

The race itself was brilliantly organised by Pat Brightman for which she did everyone proud. However, and whilst road running is on a high, what about the rest of Norfolk athletics?

Well, the very good news is that this is too. Clive Poyner, the chairman of Athletics Norfolk, recently sent me an email to say that entries were up by 50 per cent for the County Cross Country Championships held at Thetford in early January, whilst Sportshall Athletics is also booming with county entries at record numbers along with the Under 15 Girls also looking to retain their national title for the third year running. There was also a record entry for last Sunday’s County Indoor Championships at King’s Lynn.

Going back to Freethorpe, the racing right across all the age categories (men’s & women’s) was superb with just four seconds separating the first two of Alan Darby and Dan Middleton with third-placed Dom Blake just a further 42 seconds behind. However, I do have to give special mention to City of Norwich’s Dani Nimmock who not only won the ladies race, but finished fifth overall and ahead of some excellent male athletes in a time of 56:42.

She really is in tremendous form right now and 2018 looks like it is going to be a big year for her. It was also good to see the first 20 athletes all finishing under the hour despite the difficult conditions as well as two further ladies finishing just outside the hour with Conac’s Charlotte Rose second in 60:25 and Gt Yarmouth & District AC’s Colleen Mukaya third in 61:19.

Another lady who I would like to give a special mention to this week is Norfolk Gazelles Anne Ellen who was selected as reserve for England at the British & Irish International X/C Masters race in Derry last November. I meant to give mention to her when she won the F60-64 race at the Great Run series at Holyrood Park, Edinburgh.

It is also more than fair to say, the course was certainly one to test each athlete to their limits what with the first 1.5 miles climbing up and around the famous Arthur’s Seat and whilst the views may have been pretty spectacular, it didn’t stop her storming home in a winning time of 23:42. In Anne’s very own words “the toughest 5k I have ever done”.

Finally and as we come to the end of what is always a very busy month for athletics, I have been seriously amazed by the amount of people coming into Sportlink who took up running by way of New Year’s resolutions.

However, through lots of early enthusiasm some of them have unfortunately overcooked it somewhat.

Running is most certainly very addictive and the feelings of wellbeing are what make it so. Nevertheless, it really does need to be done with care during those first few weeks to allow our bodies to adapt to the new found stresses which we apply during such exercise.

More worrying though is the numbers of people who have contacted me direct having all entered marathons in April and are currently experiencing injuries or are just struggling to meet the demands of the workload what with also only having started their training plans at the beginning of this year.

Training for a marathon really is a tall order and whilst it is possible to complete 26.2 miles after just a few weeks of getting in some regular miles, the truth is that this distance is not like any other when it comes to pushing our bodies to the limits.

Ideally, each potential marathoner will have at least one, or better still two, years running behind them as well as also having completed races from 10k up to half marathons before taking on such a challenge.

Taking your first few steps towards running a marathon less than four months before the big day is most certainly testing the body and the mind to the limits never mind actually getting round on the day.

Of course it is a great achievement to complete one and I will do my very best to encourage everyone, but it is also the way you do it and like anything else in life it’s about how well you prepare for it which makes it all worthwhile when you cross the finish line.

The medal is not just for the 26.2 miles, it is a medal which represents all the hard work in getting you to the start line in one piece too.

As my good friend and two-time Olympian Paul Evans always says, the best achievement you can ever have is knowing you got the very best out of yourself!

The first 25 years…









Sportlink founder and owner Neil Featherby has been running from a very early age winning several area and county titles during his early teens as a school boy. However, he has also ran every single day of his life since September 1st, 1981 – and it was while pounding the roads during one such training stint that he was given the inspiration to start his unique business, now occupying its fourth home and entering its 26th year.

A chance encounter with a passing motorist led to the former Great Britain and England international athlete and multiple marathon title-winner setting up his new venture in tiny premises in Horsford in 1994, sowing the seeds of today’s thriving enterprise at the Taverham Garden Centre, shopping complex where Sportlink celebrated its silver anniversary on November 16th, 2019.

In addition to being a top-class distance runner competing in events across the world, Neil had a background in the sports shoe and sportswear industry along with an in-depth knowledge of coaching, fitness, nutrition and sports management which convinced him to go it alone in a competitive environment.

"One of my best moments during my running career – with the legend Emil Zatopek in Malta."

He had previously worked as a Sports Consultant for Bupa in Norwich and at the World of Sport store in Grove Road before setting up the Runners Centre with fellow athlete Nigel Arnold in Nelson Street, Norwich, and then managing Norwich City captain Ian Butterworth’s Run Kick ’N Jump sports shop in Timberhill, close to the city centre.

He explains how the Sportlink story all started from a roadside conversation with a local businessman and potential customer who flagged him down that early autumn day over a quarter of a century ago.

Neil recalls: “I had gone out for a run and for whatever reason I decided to head out on the busy main Holt Road when a car came along in the opposite direction, with the driver shouting out of his wound-down window. He drove past and while I was thinking ‘Who was that?’ the next thing I knew was that he had turned round and come back, pulling over just in front of me, so I had to stop. ‘Where am I going to buy my running shoes now you’re not in the trade any more?’ he said ‘Can I come round your house and have a chat?’ I said ‘Yes, if you want’ and told him where I lived before heading off to finish my run. Then, lo and behold, he came round later that day.

“His name was John Russell and he was a director of the ECS factory in Horsford, 150 to 200 yards from where I was living at the time. He said they had a spare room, an old canteen, so why didn’t I set up a running shop from there? It was at the far end of the village in Horsford and I thought ‘Do I really want to go into business? Am I experienced enough?’ Being on my own was quite scary.

“The premises were at Pinelands Industrial Estate, which is now mostly covered by houses. I had a look, the rent was cheap and I thought ‘Why not?’

“They put a new door in and made it all ready for me. The room was just 7 x 5 so not really much space to do too much, but it was worth a gamble.”

Sportlink opened its doors – or door – on November, 16, 1994, and Neil sold one pair of running shoes on the first day. He still remembers his first customer and the very shoe, not untypical as anyone familiar with Neil’s prodigious memory for names, faces, races and events over the decades will testify.

He recalls: “November 16 was our first day of trading and I sold one pair of shoes. I still keep in touch with the first customer, Danny Kelly. I sold him a pair of New Balance shoes and in my desperation, I did it as a trade-in because he had a pair of rubbish training shoes on his feet. He got a great deal and a great pair of shoes and if I am honest, I lost money, but I needed to go home and say I had made a sale.”

From the outset, however, Sportlink was not merely about selling sports shoes.

Says Neil: “I was also involved in sports management at the time and it was seen as an ideal place from which to run my sports management company while selling running shoes as a side-line, along with a few football boots and court shoes. Horsford had a middle school and a first school and lots of other schools in a five-mile radius, so we brought in other items to sell for school kids too.

“Roger Ryan, a friend and broadcaster, was involved with me in setting up the sports management business and he came up with the business name. That in a nutshell is how it all started, and we now had a company called Sportlink.

“It soon became apparent that the unit really was not big enough and even though I suppose the main source of my income was from sports management, my background was still all about trying to give the very best advice and service when it came to selling running shoes along with football boots or any other items of sportswear. We didn’t have computerised video analysis equipment back then, but my experience was still good enough to determine what should be the right shoe for each person. 

“At the same time, the most important component was comfort because at the end of the day, running mile after mile in a shoe most certainly needs to be comfortable, irrespective of what all the branding and marketing says on the box.”

The new business became a magnet not just for athletes, runners and other amateur sportsmen and women, but for the professionals, among them Norwich City’s rising stars, who were looking for a wise head to represent them and to manage their affairs.

Says Neil: “Because I had connections with the footballers, they kept coming to the shop. All the young lads, like Craig Bellamy, Darren Eadie, Keith O’Neill, Andy Johnson, Danny Mills, Daryl Sutch, Andy Marshall, Ade Akinbiyi and Jamie Cureton were coming out to see me almost on a daily basis at times. There were very few football agents around at the time and certainly not in Norfolk.

“There was a lot of talent at the club and the young lads fancied having an agent. The next thing I knew was that I was being asked to represent several of them. I agreed, but if I am honest it all came about just because they asked and I loved football – and of course I was a big football fan. I had my own agents as an athlete so I had an idea of how the business would operate.


“It was a different sport, and bigger contracts, but it was more about sponsorship deals initially. They all fancied having boot deals, which was absolutely easy for me, being in the trade.”

There was a spin-off benefit for the growing Sportlink business, too.

“Having all those footballers in the shop brought a huge amount of trade in. As you can imagine it brought all the kids in as soon as school was out,” says Neil.

“They were piling into our little shop in the village of Horsford. Back then footballers only trained in the morning and being young lads of 17, 18 and 19, and a long way from home, they had nowhere else to really go. They used to answer the phone and help the customers and it really did become somewhat surreal. It got to a point where Match Weekly magazine came and did a feature on the Norwich City footballers in the shop. I brought in some of the children from Horsford Middle School to be part of the feature with the players, which went down really well with everyone. Parents also kept asking if their sons and daughters could have a part-time job. Therefore to keep as many people as possible happy, I took one on for each day of the week, giving them a fiver for a couple of hours work after they came out of school.”

In less than two years, Sportlink had grown so fast it had become apparent that the business really did need to expand.

Recalls Neil: “We outgrew the shop and in August 1996 another unit, dead opposite but much bigger, became available. It was basically an old cattle shed which had been modernised of sorts. It was 700 square feet and it was absolutely freezing in the winter, but it gave us more opportunity and a much bigger space so as to work more efficiently and continue to grow the business.”

Sportlink was very much more than the place to pick up the perfect pair of running shoes and first-class advice on fitness and training.

“Here we were, a little business on the outskirts of Horsford, which back then was a small village, and runners were coming from all over East Anglia. We had the woods on our doorstep and I was taking people out for runs at lunchtime or after work. We had also made some brilliant connections with football clubs throughout Norfolk and had also somehow connected with Norwich and North Walsham rugby clubs,” says Neil.

“I ran the business and Steven Halton Farrow was my silent partner. Suddenly we were becoming a much bigger business than we had set out to be, but in truth it was perhaps happening too quickly. Eighty hours-plus had become the normal working week for me, for which I seemed to be spending most of my life at that time working, be it instore or out and about doing promotional events”

At Horsford in 1997 with another one of our sponsorship handovers….25 years of helping local sport.

It was not long before Sportlink was on the move again – and by then the business had a string of new partners.

“In late 1997 a unit became available at Drayton Industrial Estate, which was bigger with two floors. We officially opened for business at the new unit and of course new village on January 1st, 1998, staying there for the next 11 years,” says Neil. “At this point the retail side was going really well. The internet and online selling was still being viewed with suspicion by many back then. It certainly meant that lots of people were making their way to Drayton Industrial Estate for all their sporting needs. The football connection was bigger than ever and Danny Mills and Daryl Sutch had both become partners in the business. At one point I think there were seven or eight partners involved in total.”

It was then that Neil and Sportlink ventured into new territory, climbing into the ring with the big names of the fight game.

“It was then I got caught up in boxing. I was approached to work with the kickboxer Gary Briggs, followed by professional boxers Jon Thaxton and Herbie Hide,” he explains.


Herbie Hide at Sportlink before a training session.

Hide was twice WBO world heavyweight champion in the 1990s and Thaxton became WBF world lightweight champion, as well as winning the British and European lightweight titles, before retiring in 2009.

In store with footballers at one of our many promotions down at Drayton.

Says Neil: “This is all part of the Sportlink history. My work with boxing was initially about nutrition and fitness, but because I had a reasonable idea about business and learned a lot from the football management side, I was now being steered into the management of boxers too, while also promoting professional boxing shows under the name of Sportlink Boxing.

“I have never been scared to have a go at anything and the shows we put on at Norwich Sport Village were a match for any small hall show, even if I say so myself. I remember getting 3,000 people in the Sport Village for one of our shows and never less than 1,500. It was just crazy. I worked well with the media - newspapers, radio and TV – and we made stars of some of the local fighters. In total, we promoted 13 professional shows with one of them at Carrow Road, home of Norwich City. By this stage we also had a small but very good stable of boxers, all trained by Graham Everett. The team behind the promotion was superb too and so very professional. I am under no illusions when saying that if it wasn’t for them, it would have all been impossible. ”

Training Group with professional footballers and professional boxers.

It was here that Neil admits the sports fan in him sometimes worked to the detriment of the business.

He says: “Sportlink was becoming a brand but I took my foot off the gas on the retail side, the more I became involved in boxing, I suddenly found that I was being pulled all over the place. I worked with the boxer Paul Ingle in Scarborough as his conditioner and was promoting shows and training with lots of boxers and professional footballers during the close season. 

“When it came to the football management side of the business, I was meeting some unbelievable people, too. Players who I had admired years earlier and had now turned to management like Kevin Keegan, Mark Hughes and Steve Bruce to name but a few were regularly calling me at Sportlink or at home. As a fan this was amazing, but I also had to try to remember why they were calling me.  

“I travelled the world with my running, but it was now boxing and football which was taking me off all over the place and as I said earlier, the retail side of the business was getting a little neglected.”

The year 2009 brought a move from Drayton as Sportlink switched to its current premises at Taverham, home number four. Neil had foreseen a running boom on the horizon and it was time to re-focus totally on his first business aim – that of providing the best possible all-round service to runners and athletes, a holistic approach that goes far beyond selling the customer a pair of shoes.

“2009 was almost like starting again,” recalls Neil. “After lots of long discussions we decided to move the business to the shopping centre behind Taverham Garden Centre and we sold the unit we owned at Drayton.”

By this time former England World Cup star Mills and Neil were the only partners in Sportlink and the business had by this stage become Sportlink Specialist Sports Ltd.

“It took us 18 months to really establish ourselves in Taverham because people still kept going to Drayton, but we did it. Every day half a dozen people came into the new shop and said ‘We have just been to Drayton’ but for every six that came in and said that, how many didn’t?

“I could see that there was definitely going to be a running boom but frustratingly not too many people around me were listening. I was talking to banks and other potential investors, but let’s just say that most of them thought I was doing my usual and being over-positive about my future plans and ambitions. However, within four to five years of moving, we were completely on track and the running boom really had happened. The business is now at a level even I didn’t think it would get to.”

Three major factors have helped Sportlink to thrive – the Olympic Games being staged in Britain for the first time in 64 years, the emergence of the park run as a means of mass participation in running, regardless of ability, and of course social media, particularly Facebook.

Says Neil: “Sportlink is now totally focusing on running. The year 2012 was when it really turned. A lot of people knocked the Olympics before it ever took place and said it was going to be a disaster and we would mess it up.

“But the 2012 Olympics really were so very special and I can honestly say one of my all-time favourite sporting moments. The whole country came together and as a nation, we did so well in just about every sport. 

“At the same time we organised it so well that the legacy is the fact so many people now take part in sport and are having a go. People who wouldn’t have dared pick up a pair of running shoes in the past are now out there running and cycling while taking part at their own level without the worry of thinking that they would never be good enough. The park runs have been awesome – although I also think that the Race for Life in the early 1990s helped influence more ladies to take up running too. 

“Running means so many different things to so many people. It’s used for well-being, staying fit and healthy, feeling good about yourself, mental health, and of course on a competitive front. At the same time, several people have actually found that even in later life - beyond 30, which used to be considered the time for hanging up your shoes - they actually have a talent and are now competing at a very good level. 

“Most importantly, though, people from all walks of life and ability are now more than comfortable to go out running. Whereas years ago it was a case of worrying about what your neighbours might say, now the likelihood is that your neighbours go out running themselves. Attitudes really have changed, that’s for sure.”

The conscious decision for Sportlink to return to its roots has paid handsome dividends.

Explains Neil: “I really am so very pleased that I made the decision to fully focus on Sportlink as in truth I was getting worn down by all the other activities and the enjoyment was starting to wane. 

“Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved doing all the other things and in many respects it has been an absolute privilege. I look at my running career as a privilege, that’s for sure, travelling the world and meeting so many fantastic people, but to then find my way into professional football and professional boxing was such a huge added bonus, especially as it came about at the end of my competitive running career. 

“To have met superstars like David Beckham along the way or to have gone to the 2002 World Cup and to have been part of a corner team in Madison Square Garden in New York with Paul Ingle, when defending his World IBF Featherweight title as chief support for Lennox Lewis that night, is all just something else. Then of course the very memorable and even crazy adventures with Herbie Hide, Jon Thaxton, Sam Sexton, Danny Smith, Jackson Williams, Gary Briggs and of course Graham Everett, just to name a few, have left me with so many great memories.

“In truth, there are far too many people and special moments, but like all things you need to know when enough is enough. At the same time it really was all becoming more about business than fun and as I said earlier, underneath it all, I am just a fan.”

So despite – perhaps because of – rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in world sport, Neil has the greatest respect of all for the club athletes and keen amateurs who simply want to run, to improve, to achieve new goals or simply to feel healthier, fitter and better about themselves.

“I don’t care how good you are or who you are,” he says “If you want to run I’m with you all the way. That’s what we do. I would have to say 90 per cent of the people who come to us are not elite athletes. Probably 35 per cent on any day of the week are if not complete beginners, then certainly fairly new to running. In most cases, it is obvious that they are a little overawed upon walking in for the first time, but within 30 seconds or so, we have settled them and assured them that they are just as welcome as anyone else. Most importantly, when they leave they have a smile on their face and are far more confident than when first walking in. In a nutshell we have the utmost respect for anyone who wants to put on a pair of running shoes and have a go.”

This philosophy is reflected by Sportlink’s involvement in the community and continued support for events on the running calendar.

“We have our outside running groups and we sponsor the Sportlink Norfolk Grand Prix series as well as supporting about 80 per cent of all the other races in the county, along with the county cross country and track and field championships. We have a great relationship with the running community so it’s another way for us to also give something back at grassroots level” says Neil.

“When it comes to advising on equipment, we most certainly don’t go out of our way to sell the most expensive product. We are only interested in making sure that we get it right for each person by way of their needs and indeed at a price which matches their budget.

“As for footwear, the technology really is now moving at an even faster level. Whereas in the past I have always laughed at the idea that a shoe can help you run faster, many of the brands are all now looking at technology which really will help to give that little extra advantage, particularly on the back of the recent sub two-hour marathon challenge. From a personal point of view, I do not think it is right, as for me running is one of the most natural sports and pastimes anyone can take part in.

“In other sports where mechanical equipment is used, we know that sportspeople are always looking to improve through better equipment, but a pair of training shoes which supposedly helps you run quicker, through aids and extra special materials built in to the midsoles, just doesn’t seem right to me. However, you have to move with the times as there is no way a competitive athlete is going to be happy standing on the start line thinking that the guy beside him has an unfair advantage. 

“At the same time, none of the manufacturers will want to be left behind by their competitors either, so watch this space as they all now push to be the number one running brand with the number one running shoes.

“What I will say, though, is that all runners should always remember the importance of getting the right shoe for them while not forgetting to focus on all the other fundamental benefits you expect from a running shoe.”

So, after trading for one year for nearly every mile of the marathon course, what does the future hold for Sportlink, for those who work in it, and the running community served by it?

“Having now completed our first 25 years in business (Nov 16th 1994 – Nov 16th 2019), for me the future is all about never ever taking anything or anyone for granted as things can change very quickly, even more so nowadays,” says Neil.

“At Sportlink, we will always keep doing our very best to improve on our standards and trying to be that little bit extra unique. I really do have fantastic staff who I rate so very highly. My son Craig is a senior manager and, needless to say, I hope he stays in the business. 

“I still have lots of plans myself for Sportlink, but I am also trying to let others develop their own ideas as well. Chas Allen, who has an absolute wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things health and fitness-related, is also on hand as a consultant.

“Our business has gone to another level and this is also down to the amazing staff. Apart from the many qualifications and degrees within the business, it is their enthusiasm and passion for running which all makes for a really excellent service and, I like to think, a truly amazing experience. They are all very experienced runners themselves, belonging to various local running clubs. That is another reason why we always say we don’t just hear what our customers are saying, we feel what they are saying.

The new look superstore in Taverham

“We’re now going into our 26th year. The shop looks awesome and it is also now double the size of when we first moved to Taverham. As a runner, I love what we have done. “Everywhere you look there is running. Not just product, but just lots of great stuff. It really is an amazing place for runners to come to, a real runners’ hub.

“I am also so very proud of all the charity work we have done over the years. I am not sure exactly how much money we have raised, but I do know that it goes into several thousands of pounds. At the same time we have had some awesome fun with our fund- raising efforts, which I always think helps to engage people much more while raising awareness of some of the causes which we support.”

2017 World Speedway Champion Jason Doyle at Sportlink.

Neil’s business aim is as clear as it was a quarter of a century ago.

“I want Sportlink to continue to be the best it can be,” he says “After 25 years, it really has been a marathon and just like any good marathon runner, you have to be durable and roll with the highs and the lows while always retaining the belief that you will get across the finish line, knowing you have done your very best, irrespective of whether you are on a high or most certainly if and when you have to encounter one of those little rough patches during the course of the journey.  

“In business you have to learn to change and evolve and see the changes coming – just as I saw the running boom coming. People say ‘How do you compete with the internet?’ The fact is we don’t want to compete with the internet. We don’t run an internet sales website. I’m not interested in making millions on the internet without any thought or feeling going into the sale. I don’t work like that. Sportlink doesn’t work like that.

“If people say I’m a good salesman I get offended. I’m not. I’m just passionate. It’s all real. That’s important in business. It’s all about keeping to your principles. All our staff are so very genuine too and are more than happy to go well beyond the extra mile when required.

“The refit isn’t finished yet. I want to let others have a bit more free rein in the business and to step back a bit. I’m doing a lot of coaching and have upped my qualifications to allow me to spend time doing more personal things.”

So are there still personal milestones to achieve in business and in running for Neil Featherby? 

“Having run at least once every single day since September 1st, 1981, I think there is only one person in the world ahead of me now,” he says.

He may even be world number one in another sense, according to one trade insider.

“Mark Ash, who works for Saucony Originals, reckons I’ve sold more pairs of running shoes than anyone else in the world. He travels the world. I’ve been in the game more than 30 years and while I know I have sold a lot of shoes during that time, I am also sure that there are many others who have sold more than I have. I think it is perhaps fair to say I am in the top ten in the UK, certainly as far as independent specialists go.

“With regards to the future of the industry, all I am going to say is long may the independent specialists keep going as what you see is most certainly for real and more often than not, run by runners for runners.”

Sportlink Grand Prix Race 1 – Results

Sportlink Grand Prix Race 1 Results










1st Alan Darby Ely Runners 0:54:26
2nd Daniel Middleton Norwich Road Runners 0:54:30
3rd Dominic Blake Reepham Runners 0:55:12
1st Dani Nimmock City of Norwich AC 0:56:42
2nd Charlotte Rose City of Norwich AC 1:00:25
3rd Colleen Nicole Mukaya Great Yarmouth & District AC 1:01:19
Senior Ben Russell Norwich Road Runners 0:56:35
Jack Gillick Wymondham AC 0:57:24
Chris Merrylees North Norfolk Beach Runners 0:59:17
40-44 Matt Pyatt Ryston Runners 0:57:40
Kristin Barnard Wymondham AC 1:01:26
Mark Banfield Wymondham AC 1:01:29
45-49 Scott Walford Bure Valley Harriers 0:58:09
Tim Topper Wymondham AC 0:59:18
Darren Honour Bungay Black Dog RC 1:01:04
50-54 Kevin Rooney Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club 1:05:00
Jonathan Cordle Norwich Road Runners 1:05:06
Matthew Pask Norwich Road Runners 1:05:42
55-59 John Moore Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:00:49
Gary Grand Norwich Road Runners 1:09:55
Stephen Sadd Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:13:28
60-64 Terry Epps Wymondham AC 1:11:59
Neville Clarke Newmarket Joggers 1:13:27
Andrew Lane Wymondham AC 1:14:12
65 - 69 Stephen Dady Wymondham AC 1:11:37
Bill Kingaby Waveney Valley AC 1:15:12
Philip Bamford City of Norwich AC 1:21:43
70+ Ken Bowman Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:14:22
John Bone Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:27:52
Michael Smith Wymondham AC 1:31:15
Senior Charlotte Neale North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:05:00
Kate Murrell Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club 1:05:35
Alicia Lacey Norwich Road Runners 1:08:05
40-44 Cat Cummings Wymondham AC 1:05:45
Alexandra Smith Wymondham AC 1:08:27
Emma Blake Coltishall Jaguars RC 1:12:20
45-49 Sabina Spence Bure Valley Harriers 1:08:44
Theresa Dooley Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:10:33
Sharon Hurren Wymondham AC 1:11:42
50-54 Catherine Henery City of Norwich AC 1:13:25
Sandra Roberts 1:14:53
Lucy Campbell Norfolk Harriers RC 1:18:16
55-59 Jenny Sheahan 1:17:44
Alison Stewart Norwich Road Runners 1:21:18
Pauline Leeves Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:22:30
60 – 64 Anne Ellen Norfolk Gazelles AC 1:18:55
Penny Edwards Norwich Road Runners 1:19:00
Elaine Savvas 1:29:23
65+ Jane Ashby Ryston Runners 1:27:48
Carole Spong Great Yarmouth Road Runners 1:41:53
Brenda Kinch North Norfolk Beach Runners 1:43:29
Daniel Middleton
Chris Mickleburgh
John Hudson
Kristin Barnard
Mark Banfield
Paul Vincent
Charlotte Rose
Julia Parsley
Alexandra Smith
Sharon Hurrren

The full GP1 race results - HERE

Our thanks to Barry Hipwell for these photographs.

Valentine 10K February 18, 2018


This is the second race in the Grand Prix series of 11 races, sponsored by SportLink Running and Fitness.

Race start: 10am

Race HQ: Race HQ will be at the Sports Hall and Conference Centre, Easton College, Bawburgh Road, Easton, Norwich (postcode for satellite navigation NR9 5GA )

License: The race will be run under a UKA license, license no: 2018-32264

The Course: The course has been accurately measured by an approved UKA course measurer and will be marked at each kilometre. The race starts from the middle of the Easton College grounds. The course is an undulating loop around the villages of Colton and Marlingford on country lanes. For your own safety you must run on the left hand side of the road at all times, the roads will not be closed to other traffic. Please obey the instructions of the course marshals who are there for your own safety. A water station will be provided on the course at approximately 6 km.

Race Entry: Sorry, the race is now full, and there are no entries on the day.

Prizes: First male and female Trophy £50, second male and female Trophy £25, third male and female Trophy £15. Age groups start at 40 for male and female, ie 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65+. There will be a Trophy for each category winner.

Team trophies: First female senior team (x3 runners); first male senior team (x4 runners); first female master team (x3 runners); first male master team (x4 runners)

There will be a medal for every finisher. Also a pack of snap-lock pinless number fasteners.

Directions to Easton College: Easton College is situated approximately 7 miles west of Norwich just off the A47. There are road signs with directions to Easton College. For SatNavs the College recommends you use the postcode NR9 5GA – this should take you to the Norwich Family Golf Centre close to the College but please check your destination at Easton is correct. Depending on your SatNav either this postcode or NR9 5DX may take you ten miles away. (There is a map on the Norfolk Gazelles website.)

Parking: Parking is available on the Easton College site but is limited, so please car share if at all possible.
There may be other events at the College on 18th February so please park as instructed by the car park marshals.

Facilities: There will be changing facilities and showers, refreshments and a bar. Baggage storage facilities will be provided. Please note that any baggage left will be at your own responsibility, Norfolk Gazelles will not be held responsible should any property go missing.

Race number: Please collect your race number and timing chip from Race HQ on race day. You must not pass your race number onto another runner. Your race number must not be cut, folded or mutilated in any way, and must be fastened securely to the front of your vest or top and not covered.
Please provide the information requested on the back of your race number.

Timing chips: The timing chips are not disposable. Please attach securely to your running shoe, and return the chip to a member of Norfolk Gazelles immediately after you finish.

First Aid: Qualified personnel will be in attendance and situated near the finish area. Half way round the course at the drink station, If you need attention during the race please seek the help of the nearest marshal.

MP3 Players: Please do not bring along your MP3 player to listen to music whilst running. For your safety, you will need to be able to hear and follow instructions from the marshals around the course. Anyone found running with earphones will be asked to withdraw from the race and will be disqualified.

Results: The race results and prize winners will be published on the Norfolk Gazelles website and at

Courtesy: As noted above, the roads will be open to other users and are popular with local horse riders and dog walkers. Please be courteous to all other people on the race route.

Declaration: By entering this race, you are declaring that you are an amateur runner as defined by UKA rules. You agree to abide by UKA rules and the race referee’s decisions. You understand that neither the organisers nor their servants will be liable for any injury, illness, loss or action claim (howsoever occasioned) resulting from this event.

Data Protection Act: Entering this race indicates your consent to Norfolk Gazelles and their agents to process and communications include: entry list and race results on websites and for media purposes; photographs for publicity purposes; and publicity for future events. Your details will be retained for 12 months after the race and will not be disclosed to a 3rd party without your consent.

Any questions: Please email if you would like any further information.

Race information from our friends at the Norfolk Gazelles

Memories of 1987 Hong Kong Marathon and how I learned to never let my motivation drop

Friday 26th January 2018 - Neil Featherby's EDP Feature.
Neil Featherby learned a valuable life lesson 31 years ago this week...

So here we are nearly one month into the New Year already.

So many of us always start out with good intentions and high levels of motivation but once the initial excitement wears off, and reality sets in, some are already struggling to keep up with the early demands they have set themselves.



More often than not, it is due to a little over eagerness and it then becomes more difficult than they thought. Or, of course, they have hurt themselves from doing too much, too soon.

During the last week or so I have received several messages from people asking me to help them get through this blip.

The first few weeks are exciting with lots of motivation, especially after the Christmas and New Year festivities. But once the reality sets in of the usual day-to-day routine along with short days and the wild and windy weather which we have had this month, it can be easy to find reasons not to go out and of course putting it back until tomorrow.

However, and like everything else, it is so important to build a routine whereby it becomes second nature and if we have built in short, medium and long term goals with a few rewards thrown in, then the desire should be maintained to overcome any earlier blips.

With regards to staying motivated at this time of year, unbelievably for me it is exactly 31 years ago today as I write this column (Jan 25th 1987) when I took part in the Hong Kong International Marathon after a special invitation from the organisers which had been set up by my good friend Peter Duhig after my 2:17 performance in Berlin just a few months before.

However, the weather during January 1987 was absolutely horrendous with temperatures down to minus 10 and below and snow drifts that were 10 feet in height. The roads of my usual training routes were completely blocked in places and trying to stay on my feet was a nightmare.

I was actually doing most of my training on the snow and ice covered roads in spikes. To say I moaned and groaned is an understatement. Flying out to Hong Kong was not the best long haul flight either and despite it being January, the weather out there was very warm and sunny. My outlook was poor, that’s for sure, and I really did have very little desire to run.


Whilst an excellent field of runners had been assembled, in truth my two main rivals were the American Doug Kurtis who now holds the world record of having run 76 sub 2:20 marathons and the Canadian athlete Rick Mannen who was fresh from his 2:19 Toronto marathon win.

I spent most of the days leading up to the marathon doing tiring promotional work with my then sponsors Reebok and the American superstar and pre-race favourite Doug Kurtis whilst Rick spent most of his time with his wife Josie, who had accompanied him out there.

Whereas Doug was very confident and outgoing, Rick was so very polite and most certainly modest. During conversation with both of them I was already showing my hand by telling them about the bad weather which had affected my training for which it was obvious they were taking it all in.

Anyway, race day came and the three of us soon established the lead.

The race was being televised too for which I started showing off by pretending I was just cruising along with ease, but in the back of my mind, I wasn’t happy about what I saw as lost training during those last few weeks going into the race.

Sure enough and just after halfway Rick put in a burst and whilst Kurtis reacted, I just let them go.

I knew I had a good lead on fourth place for which I happily settled into just running within myself and taking the bronze medal position.

As it happens as I approached the sports centre, I could see Doug Kurtis coming back to me having been dropped by Rick Mannen.

However, it was too late and whilst we both finished on the track at the same time it was my fault for lacking the ambition of the other two.

After I crossed the finish line in a couple of seconds over 2:23, I went straight over to shake my opponents’ hands and especially that of Rick who had surprised everyone with his defeat of Kurtis.

During our little chat he quite calmly said it was a shame that I wasn’t in my best shape whilst also telling me about the minus 20c conditions he himself had been encountering back in his home town of Brantford, Ontario for not just a few weeks, but several months.

He not only put me right back in my place, he also made me think about how I had lacked the desire and determination as well as showing my weaknesses which really is not that of someone who professes to be motivated and professional in their approach.

As the saying goes, “where there’s a will there’s a way”.

In Rick Mannen’s case there was a real will to succeed for which he went on to win many more honours as an athlete and marathon runner whilst also representing his country with pride.

I still keep in touch with Rick and his wife Josie whereby we have many common interests i.e. running, coaching and a love for the same breed of dogs.

Thirty-one years on, I now try to instil the lessons I learnt from him into all the athletes who I now advise.


Neil Featherby: Age is just a number, isn’t it?

Coming to terms with age is something I have always struggled with.
If anything this is one of the reasons I dedicated my column a few weeks ago to some of those elderly athletes who are still running fantastic times whilst still in their 70s and 80s. However, and as we know, there are certain things we are powerless to change and what with me turning 60 this week, let’s just say I am caught between feeling a little deflated and at the same time perhaps just thinking, ‘let’s see what life there may still be in this old body of mine yet’.

Knowing six months ago this big milestone was approaching, I set about increasing the training load to see just how quickly I could run a mile again and whilst I knew the days of sub-five minutes have gone, I was still confident that with some real hard work I could get close to a target which I set myself, that being 5:14, which is the pace I averaged when I ran my marathon PB just over 31 years ago.

In all honesty this may have been a case of where the brain is willing and the body isn’t, but I was still determined to have a go. I also decided to do a 60-miler which, in truth, was never going to be a problem. However, I went down with a nasty chest infection early November which is still causing me one or two issues, but when the big day arrived on Tuesday it was in my mind to still have a crack at the mile, albeit on my treadmill.

A brief warm-up followed by a treadmill setting of 11.7mph and I was away. Initially it felt comfortable, but after just one minute I could feel the lactic acid building up in my legs whereby the minus button was hit and kept getting pressed for the remainder of the run until it was just over 10mph. I managed a sub-six, but boy was I blowing, which was what shocked me most.

I really do not like defeat, but with the issues I have had during the last couple of months, I have decided to give myself a few more weeks and give it one more good go. If I fail, so be it; I will resign myself to the fact I have many good years of running behind me and will just continue to plod the miles with my five dogs each day whilst accepting the fact I am aging. But failure is not in my vocabulary so watch this space!

Sportlink Running & Fitness Grand Prix Series – Dates









The Sportlink Running & Fitness Grand Prix Series is a series of established road races at a variety of distances across the county of Norfolk.

Here are the eleven races selected to form the Grand Prix Series in 2018:

Anyone can take part in the Grand Prix Series; members of clubs affiliated to Athletics Norfolk, members of clubs not affiliated to Athletics Norfolk, unattached runners - all are welcome. You don't even need to live in Norfolk - just enter the Grand Prix races in the normal way and then look out for your name in the Series standings ...

Ages are as at 31 December 2018 with masters in five year age groups from 40 to 65+.

At every GP race the winner in each age group scores 100 GP points, second place scores 99 GP points and so on.

The final standings will aggregate your best eight performances from any of the eleven GP races in this year's Series.

If you don't manage to complete the minimum of eight races you will still count in the final standings but it's clearly a good idea to do as many as possible.

At the end of each season the Series awards will be presented at the Night of Celebrations - details to follow.

The Series administrator for 2018 is Pat Brightman - please click here to send her an email.


All information here is taken from the Athletics Norfolk website.

Happy Birthday Neil!









So, the day you’ve been dreading has finally arrived!!!

We know that you don’t want to be 60, that you don’t feel or act like a 60 year old but we can’t let you turn 60 without a little celebration of your life so far.

So, Neil Featherby, sit back, relax, embrace the big 6-0 and enjoy this short film, dedicated to you!

With love from The Sportlink Team, the guys at Rock Solid, your family and  friends and all the many customers and animals that you’ve helped over the years. This one’s for you. Happy Birthday x


Going the distance – Kathryn Hammond

Every Month we now feature one of the Sportlink team for a Q&A.
This month it's Kathryn Hammond.

When did you first start to run?
I have always run for as long as I can remember. I was a sprinter at school. Running in my early twenties, was just part of my fitness regime, alongside aerobics classes, swimming and cycling. My first competitive race, picture below, was The Lowestoft Scores Race, in 1997. Running really became my main sport after the birth of my son. When you only have small windows of time for yourself, it is easy to slip on your trainers and run around the block. My running journey progressed from there.


Kathryn Hammond 1997 - Scores race Lowestoft

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
The buzz that I get when I have finished a run, is one of the best things about running. It lifts my mood, clears my head and makes me feel ready to tackle the day. The running community and the amazing people I've met through running, is also a massive part of it.
What’s your biggest running achievement?

My biggest running achievement? Hmmmm, that's a hard one! I guess it's completing my first marathon, at Brighton, in 2012. Simply because of the commitment and level of training that is required for 26.2 miles. I loved every minute of it, the training went well, the race went to plan, the atmosphere was amazing and I was on a high for weeks afterwards.

What in the world motivates a person to run long distance?
I think there are many reasons why people run long distance but mainly because it poses a personal challenge or they run to raise money for a charity close to their heart.

What kinds of things do you think about as you run?
I never run with music. I think about all sorts of things when I run, such as my 'to do list', things that have happened during the day, how's my pace, am I going to make it up the hill without stopping?!

One the day of the big race…how are you feeling? Are you performing any superstitious rituals (like wearing the same unwashed socks you trained in for months)?
On race day I used to get very nervous and would used to joke with my sister about how many times we would visit the toilet before even leaving the house on race morning! I don't get that quite as much anymore. I think about my race plan, I know that I have trained and fuelled well, so I go into the race feeling more confident. I always have a little warm up but I don't have any superstitious rituals as such, I do however always wear my favourite Balega running socks, Brooks bra and a pair of comfortable pants!

What’s your next race?
My next race is Freethorpe 10 miler, the first of the Sportlink Grand Prix races, then Cambridge Half Marathon, in March.

What’s your favourite running shoe?
My current favourite running shoe is the Saucony Kinvara for road and Saucony Peregrine for the trails but I also used the Brooks Ravenna for many years. I wear a Brooks Glycerin for work, which is super comfy.

Who’s your running hero?
My running hero.....Neil Featherby of course!!!

What’s the best thing about working at Sportlink?
The best thing about working at Sportlink, is the team I get to work with. They are a brilliant crew, we work hard but also have a lot of fun along the way. Our customers are great too, all with their own stories and different reasons for running and without them, there would be no Sportlink. I get to talk about running all day, what's not to like?!

Neil Featherby: The future looks bright for Norfolk Cross Country team

Neil's EDP article 12/01/18

After my column back in November about the new regime of Chris Merrylees and Dominic Blake now heading up the Norfolk County Cross Country Team, last Sunday saw what was most certainly an eagerly awaited Norfolk County X/C Championships at Thetford.


Ashley Harrell won the Senior Men's race. Picture: Tony Payne
Despite the absence due to injury and illness to half a dozen leading athletes, the standard was certainly very high along with an excellent turnout in all the races. I also think it is fair to say that right from the under 11s up to the seniors saw some excellent racing with some close finishes and plenty of toing and froing between the positions during the races.

However, and in the main senior races, it has to be said that the standard was the best it has been for a number of years with Ash Harold taking the honours in the men’s race and Ruth Senior showing her strength as she passed the long time leader Mabel Beckett in the ladies event.

Both Dom and Chris had plenty to say afterwards with Dom also making the cut himself saying: “It was awesome and whilst I knew I was giving my all, at the same time I also loved watching the race unfold in front of me.”

They are both now looking forward to meeting up with the 30 athletes who have been selected for the next squad day on February 10 prior to the Inter County Championships at Loughborough on March 10 where nine men and eight ladies will be selected to wear the Norfolk vest.

Ruth Senior leads the Senior Women's race home. Picture: Tony Payne
Whilst the Norfolk teams will more than likely be based upon the finishing positions in the Norfolk County X/C, if for whatever reason there are any call offs, those making up the reserve positions are all of a high calibre and will easily fill any vacant slots.

What is so very obvious is that Chris and Dom have certainly fired the enthusiasm up once again to be part of Norfolk’s proud cross country tradition for which I think it only right to give the final word to Chris Merryless.

“This year’s county cross country championships really were a proper County Championships which has clearly been reflected by the fact that 12 different clubs from Norfolk have athletes in our men’s and women’s senior squads,” said Chris. “It also shows that all the clubs this year were keen to be seen and have representation at all levels for which the future really is looking good.”

A special mention has to go to City of Norwich AC’s Dani Nimmock who whilst she was missing from the Norfolk County Championships, she was however competing in the Telford 10k road race which undoubtedly attracts athletes of a very high standard.

Danni not only finished in an amazing third place, she also finished in an equally, if not more so, amazing time of 33:04 seconds. I don’t think that too many people would mind me saying that many a male athlete in Norfolk would love to able to boast such a PB. As Chris Merrylees said…the future of Norfolk distance running, really is looking good.

New Year…New You!

Neil Featherby's EDP article.

So here we are and just a few days into another New Year whereby so many of us have lots of good intentions especially when it comes to health and fitness. As you can imagine we at Sportlink see many people seeking advice at this time of year and whilst we really do our very best to advise, there are times when you can just see that some of those seeking it are not always hearing what they want to hear. There are no magic wands or easy short cuts when it comes to doing it properly. Getting fit and staying healthy particularly for those who haven’t put on a pair of trainers for a number of years is like anything else in life. If it is worth doing then it will require planning and the patience with a mindset to be in it for the long term. The rewards can be immense if you follow a structured plan. Needless to say, have your long term goal, but to ensure that you get there, also set more easily attainable short and medium term goals as well so as to see very gradual gains whilst staying motivated and of course have regular feelings of self-achievement.

In a nutshell, start out by keeping it simple with little and often. Create a habit and routine so as to be able to gradually increase the level of exercise without putting too much stress on the body at any one time! Even just 10 to 20 mins three times a week for a month will help set a pattern and routine towards a new lifestyle. To say 10 mins is not worth it, well it is better than doing nothing that is for sure and if it means you have kept things going particularly on one of those days when you just didn’t feel like it, do I need to say more?

Focus on what you are doing and not others. Just because you may have seen someone of an age or even body shape out there regularly pounding the streets for which you think “if they can then I most certainly can”, just be careful before increasing the load. Apart from hurting yourself, burn out can quickly take hold if you don’t allow for the body to fully adapt to these new found stresses which are being applied.

When it comes to getting the right equipment, no one has to pay hundreds of pounds to get started. However, it really is so very important to get it right whilst also getting it right at a price which fits in with your budget. I have seen on numerous occasions people taking up running whilst wearing inadequate footwear and then six weeks into their programme, they have hurt themselves due to this or of course doing too much too soon. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep it going” is the most used quote whereby they then look to buy a really expensive pair of trainers to put right what has gone wrong. This just does not happen though and it is not then all about spending as much money as you can on top of the range running shoes.

Having advised runners on running footwear for 29 years and despite there being huge advancements in technology, I am still yet to see a shoe which is absolutely perfect in every way possible and I don’t doubt for one moment that in a further 29 years the manufactures will still be producing their so