Neil Featherby: Exciting times ahead for Norfolk athletics and you can play your part

Action from the main 800m race of the Joe Skipper Track Challenge. Picture: Baz Hipwell

With the last of our four-race Joe Skipper Track Challenge training series coming to an end this Friday evening at the Sportspark, it really has been a pleasure and great fun watching athletes of all ages and abilities enjoying what they do best and that of course is to compete, be it against others or indeed themselves through self-improvement.

Action from the Joe Skipper Track Challenge last Friday. Picture: Baz Hipwell

For some it has been a chance to experience track racing for the first time ever albeit when now into their 40s or indeed even late 50s whilst also rubbing shoulders with some of Norfolk’s best senior and young and upcoming youngsters.

The race series started with an hour’s worth of 3,000 metre races back on August 7 followed by an evening of 1500 metre racing two weeks later and then a night of 800 metre events last Friday.

The series will now culminate with six races over 5,000 metres and having done my best to seed the races (whilst in discussion with Joe too), I really am looking forward to watching it all unfold.

Action from one of the 800m races at the Joe Skipper Track Challenge. Picture: Baz Hipwell

We do have to say a big thank you to Clive Poyner (chair Athletics Norfolk) and Rob Machin who have been fantastic with their support whilst also not forgetting all the help many others have assisted with on the night which includes the event photographer Baz Hipwell. Mark Armstrong has also filmed the main race on Facebook during the last two events as well so as to add to the occasion. Oh and speaking of Mark, he also experienced the thrill of winning his 800 metre race last week too.

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Going forward, Athletics Norfolk now have several evening meets lined up with entries filling up as soon as they have opened.

Whilst we all need to still be very aware that life has not just gone back to how it was pre covid, it is great to once again see some live competitive athletics returning to the county. However, and whilst social distancing regulations will be very much adhered too, from what I can gather, plans are also underway to also make sure that there will be plenty of atmosphere for the athletes on the night.

Speaking to Clive Poyner, he said that the 800 metre evening on September 18 is looking like they will have at least 16 races with a wide range of predicted race times from 3mins 30secs to a very fast 1min 52secs.

“The numbers have taken us somewhat by surprise and on the night we are going to have to be super slick and get the races underway every four to five minutes,” he said.

With this in mind and whilst I have mentioned this before in a previous column, any extra help from volunteers really will be so very much appreciated what with support being required for the timekeepers, track judges, the starter and the all-round organisation which goes into such an event. This of course is also applicable to all the other track meets which have been organised throughout September and October. See full details below.

Finally, welcome back Mark (Armstrong) to these weekly columns for which I for one am very much looking forward to reading about his running exploits once again.

Athletics Norfolk forthcoming dates at the Sportspark.

Sept 12th Open meet with 3,000 metres (sold out)

Sept 18th Evening meet – 800 Metres. There is space for approx 50 more athletes. (140 already entered). Closing Date Sept 11th.

Sept 26th Open meet with 1500 Metres. Entries will open next week online.

Oct 3rd Super Teams fun meet for teams of 4. – 200 metres / shot / long jump and relay. Teams to include two U13s plus two of any age.

Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature