My running history started at the end of 2008, in a pub in Newcastle town centre when two work colleagues challenged me to complete the Lausanne half marathon of 2009 giving me less than a year to train. After taking a sip of beer and thinking about it I accepted the challenge, and even though I had never run regularly in my life before, and had less than favourable memories of athletics and cross country at school I was looking forward to it. I mean running along the shore of Lake Geneva with the backdrop of the Alps in view should be enough to entice anyone right?
At the beginning I was just about able to plod very slowly for a 20 mins, and I still remember those first runs and how difficult they were in the cold of a North East winter, how out of breath I felt and thinking how unfit I was. They gradually got easier, or at least more tolerable, and by March 2009 I completed my first 5K race in Middlesborough and a 10K a couple months later in Edinburgh. My training was progressing nicely towards our half marathon date in October in Switzerland, but the same couldn’t be said about my colleagues, and the two of them both ended up quitting the race months in advance! I didn’t fancy travelling to Switzerland by myself to run to my first half marathon alone, but also didn’t want to waste all that training I had put in. After looking over a few options I decided to run the Great Eastern Run half marathon in Peterborough with a couple of friends, one of which assured me that the route was flat as a pancake. It duly was, and I ran round the 13.1 mile course loving every minute of it! From the moment I crossed the finish line of my first half-marathon I knew I wanted to run a full marathon.
I experienced that particular feeling in 2010 in Berlin when I completed my first marathon, and then again in London, Windermere and Chester in 2011. Since then I’ve completed numerous other races including a few marathons and short ultra-marathons, one of which was the Two Oceans marathon (56km) in Cape Town in 2014. Since I moved to the Derbyshire Peak District in 2013, I’ve been doing more off-road and fell running which has been a revelation as PBs and timing is less important, while enjoying the views and scenery when you get to the the top of the hill (although bursting your lungs and burning the muscles in your legs inevitably happens in the process) is what makes it enjoyable. I still have time to, and do enjoy pounding the concrete and regularly take part in road races, chasing that elusive PB.
Running has been a revelation in my life, it has completely changed me as a person. I never used to like to get up early in the mornings and I these days I don’t think twice about doing that if a run is the reason. I’m much more active than I ever was and have developed a real affinity to the outdoors and have met a lot of fabulous people and made a good few friends through running. In particular, the parkrun community has been amazing, I participated in the founding core teams at both Gateshead and Lyme Park parkruns. In addition, the all-singing all-dancing fetcheveryone.com website has been the single most instrumental factor in maintaining my motivation in running over the last 5 or so years, primarily due to the support, wisdom and friendliness of the vast majority of members that hang out there.
I can’t imagine a future without running, and long may my running continue, I hope to stay free of injuries and just aim to enjoy myself. My targets in the next few years are to complete the Comrades marathon, a 90km road ultra-marathon in South Africa, and closer to home a similar distance race would be the Bullock Smithy, a round tour of the western Peak District near where I live. On the way to achieving these aims I hope to better my times at shorter distances ranging from 5K to 50K and to meet, inspire and be inspired by my fellow runners. The next best thing to running is to chat about running because it just makes you want to go out and run again!