Neil Featherby: Keep on running Jackson Williams and make Norwich proud
Early on Tuesday morning, just as my five alarm clocks started howling (my five huskies), the sound was also met by the ringing of my mobile phone.
As always, there is that initial concern with regards to why someone might be calling at such an hour until I saw the name Jackson Williams flashing up.
For those who may not be aware, Jackson is now two weeks into his world record attempt of running across Australia or in this case from Sydney to Perth for a total of 2,334 miles. The current record has stood since 2002 and is held by Donnie Maclurcan who managed to complete this awesome feat in 67 days, 2 hours and 57 minutes. Jackson is hoping to complete the distance in 60 days whilst also raising money for the children’s charity Break. The total raised so far stands at over £8,000 which in itself is fantastic and I am sure that figure will also continue to grow during the next few weeks.
Jackson is a very well-liked sporting personality and has to be one of Norwich’s favourite sons. His background is as a professional boxer for which he can boast a record of 12 wins and just 4 defeats. However, one of those defeats was against none other than Amir Khan for which the two of them have remained as great friends since their bout.
It doesn’t stop there though and whilst Jacko’s sporting feats are far too many for me to mention in this column, some of his stand out accomplishments which have to be mentioned include running from Scotland to Norwich, running and cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End, cycling across Australia and running across America which was a staggering distance of 3,086 miles which he completed in 95 days. At the same time he has also raised huge amounts of money for charity during all these challenges.
Talking to him on the phone which just happened to be on Facetime, there he was sitting in an ice bath trying to let his body recover from another 40 miles completed. Whilst running 40 miles a day is one thing, he has also had to contend with temperatures which are going up to 35c during the day along with varied terrain which has seen him running up the most severest of long climbs and hills to that of the most straightest of flat roads which stretch out for mile after mile without even a slight kink along the endless highways.
Add a dust storm and a problematic knee issue to the mix, this challenge is certainly something which even for someone like me who loves a challenge finds hard to comprehend. The heat has been the real issue though as well as a rapid weight loss what with trying to ensure that he stays on top of his hydration levels whilst also getting the much needed calories and nutrients into his body which is not always easy after such a gruelling daily slog.
Thankfully, he has a great team with him which includes his girlfriend Sammy Webb and friends Jon Lee and Jimmy Lee who really have provided super support to him so as to help ensure that all his needs are met. A good support team for such a challenge is essential and can be every bit as tough for them too especially when all having to work and live in a confined space.
Jackson has always called me up at least once during all of his previous challenges for what he says is advice and a motivational chat, but the truth is, these days I think I am coming away from our conversations more motivated by him.
During the next few weeks, his emotions will inevitably go all over the place with many highs also mixed with several lows too which are always part and parcel of such tests of endurance. This is where his mental toughness really will be tested. However, the one thing which has always stood out for me about Jackson is his 100 percent belief in himself to complete every challenge he takes on. If he says he is going to do something, then he never backs off and start to doubt himself which is truly the mark of a great athlete. Keep on running Jackson Williams….
For anyone who would like to know more about Jackson and his challenges, then check him out on social media or on his website www.tower-fitness.co.uk
In my column of two weeks ago, I talked about present day sports science and technology whilst stating that with even all the latest research and knowledge, it still comes down to being totally committed if you want to be the very best you can be. With this in mind, I want to say well done to Craig Bowen Jones who is one of the most dedicated runners I know.
Not only does he run his own business whilst regularly putting in 12 to 16 hour working days, but he also somehow manages to find the determination to get in up to 70 miles a week training. At 47 years of age, he still has the drive to keep on improving and is still producing PB’s particularly at the marathon distance. Last weekend in the Frankfurt marathon he knocked a further 40 seconds off his previous best time with a 2:55:22 and whilst this may not be an age world record or indeed even British best, Craig epitomises for me just what getting the best out of yourself is all about. Well done Craig and apologies for my initial reaction after the marathon what with also knowing you can still do better and there is more yet still to come.