Neil Featherby: Still plenty of motivation out there, despite the lack of ‘real’ racing events

Running on hold... from left, Jason Wright, Chas Allen and Neil Featherby Picture: Mark Hewlett

Prior to the coronavirus turning all our worlds upside down, I was pretty convinced that we had reached saturation point with people taking up jogging and running.

Jane Clarke has a points system for her training programmes Picture: Jane Clarke

Clearly not, as it now seems there are even more people having a go – if not running then certainly doing some form of exercise.

I’m sure many of this latest influx of people who are so noticeably pounding the pavements may have had it in their minds to one day get out and actually do it. But, having been told to stay in our homes apart from being able to go out for some exercise, it seems like it really has been the catalyst for everyone to take advantage of this golden hour.

At the same time it is also amazing to see how many people are active on social media, setting up fitness videos, training groups and, of course, virtual runs and races.

I have received lots of emails and messages from people telling me how they are not only keeping fit themselves, but also motivating others, for which I really do applaud them all. A couple of friends who I will mention though are local top runner and coach Jane Clarke and fitness expert Chas Allen.

Chas has put together a series of short instructive films on specific exercises to help with mobility and the strengthening of muscle groups. We are posting these on our Sportlink Facebook page every day for the next couple of weeks – they are not only motivational, but educational too.

Jane is doing something similar whilst also setting out and structuring weekly training programmes on her social media groups along with a points system for each session and run completed – ie, three points for the effort sessions, two for the weekly long run and one point for each of the core strength sessions.

At the end of each week, scores are then posted on to their Facebook page and apart from this being a bit of added fun, it also helps keep each person motivated knowing that others in the group will be out there pushing themselves in the quest to gain as many points as they can.

Then, of course, there are all the virtual runs and other fitness challenges springing up everywhere such as our Sportlink Virtual 5k Challenge for April.

Whilst this really is open to everyone of all standards and all ages, it does also add some extra motivation for those who want to have a go and really push themselves, despite the current absence of races.

This is evident by the standard at the sharp end, with four runners already having posted times of well under 15 minutes.

If this was a local road race, then it would definitely be regarded as pretty phenomenal.

Callum Bowen Jones leads the way with the fastest time of 14 minutes and 19 seconds (90.69 percent - age grading), but is just one second ahead of Matt Pyatt (97.01pc) who actually heads the leaderboard due to age grading and is also just four seconds in front of Suffolk-based Shaftesbury Barnet athlete Kieran Clements (90.16pc). Kieran really does have a very impressive list of PBs to his name, including a best time of 13:53 for 5K and 28:37 for 10K.

Logan Smith is also in the mix with a 14:52 (87.43pc) and I am sure he will look to have another go, knowing he can run much quicker.

Leading the way for the ladies is Jo Isbill with 19:27 (89.84pc).

If these guys don’t trigger responses from some of our other top athletes in and around the county or further afield, I don’t know what will as once competitive I think it is fair to say, always competitive.

Staying on the theme of virtual running, Adie Grand has organised a Braydeston Mile event and whilst it does not mean running the actual Braydeston course, just like our 5K challenge, it does mean doing your own one mile run, be it on the road, trail or indeed even on a treadmill and then sending in your finishing time. So far he has over 50 entries, although I wouldn’t be surprised if that figure doubles before too long.

Just like our 5k event, this is also open to everyone and will continue right up to when lockdown is over.

The leader of this race so far is Callum Bowen Jones with a 4:24 clocking (road), but I do have a feeling he is going to be seriously challenged by the likes of Matt Pyatt and of course Logan Smith along with a few of the really speedy guys at various local running clubs. Nevertheless, I must point out in Adie’s own words, “it’s not a race, it is just a bit of fun”.

While everyone is missing all the races they had planned for the season, for now, virtual racing and other similar challenges are most certainly far better than no competition at all and a great way to stay motivated.

For anyone who would like to take part in these challenges, please email your 5K details to or for the one-mile run, post your run times on to the Braydeston Mile Facebook page.

Stay safe, everyone, and, as always, keep on running…

Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature


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