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Neil Featherby: Farewell Loki… we’ll keep running for you

Published:
June 17, 2022 6:00 AM



During my many years of running there have been several key factors and people who inspired me to run.

However, and during the last decade or more, apart from the occasional ultra-long distance challenge combined with charity fund raising, it has been for the love of running with my dogs which has kept me going.

I think it is fair to say that just about everyone who knows me will be aware that I lost another one of my beloved and precious canines last weekend.




Neil Featherby and his Anything for Loki challenge crew
– Credit: Neil Featherby

Loki, my Siberian Husky, really was such a very special boy and a fantastic running companion.

As always, when we lose such special friends, or should I say family, it hits us all so hard as of course so many other people will know and can relate to it.

Mark (Armstrong) called me up to say don’t worry about doing this week’s podcast which we have been doing in the build-up to Run Norwich as well as saying leave the column for this week.

Nevertheless, and whilst I was more than happy to agree on giving the podcast a miss, writing my weekly column was indeed something I very much still wanted to do.

why? Well, firstly to thank all those many people who have messaged me during this last week and of course to also thank everyone for their support during the last four and a bit months. One such message said ‘well done in turning what was such a negative into so many positives’.

We almost lost Loki back on February 5 and were told after major surgery his life beyond that was only for a very limited time despite going through five bouts of chemotherapy treatment. This, of course, meant that every day was going to be so very special.


Neil Featherby Nelson's Journey

Neil Featherby hands over a check with his dogs to Nelson’s Journey – one of the charities that benefited from the Anything for Loki challenge.
– Credit: Neil Featherby

One hundred and twenty-seven days to be exact whilst also running every day right up to his passing last Sunday morning.

The resilience he showed all the way through this demonstrated just how awesome and strong willed he was. Inspirational is the word.

The ‘Anything for Loki’ Cross Norfolk Challenge which we did back in March is something which will remain fixed in my heart and mind forever. Raising over £5,000 with Lokes, his mum Tala and sister Luna along with some great friends and family for various charities and causes including the super local children’s charity, Nelson’s Journey, all in his name, was just brilliant.

He really did make so many people happy with his almost daily visits to Sportlink and a visit to a local school where he ran around with Tala, Luna and the children whilst introducing them to canicross. He was also used as part of a blood donor awareness campaign for dogs by Taverham Vets and just this same time last week he met with a lovely young girl Maisie Lossau who herself is suffering with cancer. Lokes virtually climbed onto her lap of her in her wheelchair of her showing her of her love of her. Maisie’s mum Dawn has also recently taken up running too.


Neil Featherby running with dogs

Neil Featherby in his Running with Dogs film
– Credit: Lee Blanchflower

Exactly two years ago we were in the process of making a film with local filmmaker Lee Blanchflower all about running and running with dogs. Later that year, and once again with great friends, we ran Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coastal Footpath in the memory of another one of my past dogs Oslo in the ‘Anything for Oslo’ challenge where we raised £4,000 for our chosen charities.

Loki is my third dog running partner to pass during the last two-and-a-half years and whilst I have had so many brilliant running friends and running partners over the years as well as having ran with lots of truly world class athletes, it is the running every day and thousands of thousands with my dogs which have made for some of the most unforgettable memories.

As for going forward and staying inspired, I personally now feel another Hadrian’s Wall Challenge coming on having done it twice in the past.


Neil Featherby running dogs

Neil Featherby – running in all weathers with his dogs
– Credit: Baz Hipwell

I had originally intended doing it this year in May on what would have been Oslo’s birthday. However, and letting the cat out of the bag for which I am sure I am going to get it in the neck, my partner Steph Jones has also now been inspired into taking on the challenge of training for and running this year’s London Marathon.

This came about just a few days ago (Monday) after Sportlink won a free entry through one of the main sponsors, New Balance, after customer referrals with regards to our in-store service. Another reason to feel lots of pride and gratitude towards my staff and all our customers.

Keep on running and of course inspiring Loki… you legend of a dog…

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