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