Twenty-four years of running! If some of you do your calculations, you will work out that my running started a few months after the birth of my second daughter, Katie. I was a postnatal wreck, overweight and a bit lost. Rich and I decided I needed to find an easy way to get fit between feeding new baby so we visited ARO Sports to kit me out in a pair of shorts and some trainers. A bad attitude meant that the only way I was going to actually run further than the front path was to drive our Astra Belmont some distance from home, chuck me out and then follow me home in the car. Fun times, and how hard was that?
Kit was a bit more restricted in those days, and I can remember my shorts flapping in the wind. I can also remember feeling so much better about everything and a cloud lifted every time I felt myself go a bit further. So, I was getting my mojo back but needed to check out this racing lark. Royston 10K was my first race. My friend Hayley held the baby, I breastfed ten minutes before the start and finished the race to the sound of a screaming pink Katie. But, I had done it. Time? No idea, I had found a new hobby.
Rich found me a running club who happened to be holding their AGM at Letchworth Rugby Club where he still played. I joined, I stayed and I have loved it ever since. I ran a few good times, well good for me, and my greatest running achievement is probably the London Marathon in 3 hours 41 minutes. I still sleep with the medal. But, times and stuff are not for me. I love running midweek leagues, cross country and relays. I also love running with my club mates and get a real kick from seeing my daughters loving their running as well. Although the day we ran the Pirton boxing day fun run and both overtook me was a bittersweet memory.
I cannot write about my running journey without mentioning Katrin Rippel, a lovely lady who ran with Karen and I back in the day. A very generous person who always congratulated everyone and encouraged us all, she was my nemesis in virtually every race we entered together. The gloves were off when we ran, and the three of us were frequently close together. Three very competitive ladies who took no prisoners. At the finish line however, all was forgiven and we would congratulate the winner on that occasion. Katrin sadly died very young and I still miss running with her.
I’m still running, slightly slower but still loving it. I have lots to thank this wonderful club for: great friends, fabulous memories, huge laughs and so so much I could tell you about, like stopping at a water stop for 20 minutes with lightning during the Welwyn 10K, running through a huge pile of excrement thinking it was a solid pile of tarmac, Smiler as a jockey at the Gilbey Gallop, running down the Mall to the London Marathon finish feeling like I had actually won, and running in the pitch black for the Round Norfolk Relay listening to Voodoo Doll on full blast. Many more memories to come no doubt.
I have also had the huge privilege of helping with our races, in particular the Standalone 10K, which I have seen change over the years in so many ways. The First Saturday of the Month also has a special place in my heart. It’s a great start to the weekend, seeing people run, and a good chat with running buddies. Remember the guy who ran the December one in a pair of swimming trunks? What a moment, but not a patch on the man who ran the Greenway in gold lycra budgie smugglers. I am going to have to stop now and go for a run…
Thank you for reading my story.
I remember watching the London Marathon as a child and announcing I was going to run it one day…my family thought I was mad. Although we were a very outdoorsy family (which explains my love of a muddy, hilly XC), at the time we weren’t a running family and to run that far seemed impossible. I always loved running at school and was even relatively speedy at 800m representing my school in Preston schools competitions and I also enjoyed the schools cross country races but for some reason I prepared myself for it by cycling up and down the hill at the end of our road. I was interested in joining our local athletics club, Preston Harriers, but it was on the other side of town and I have a couple of younger siblings which made it tricky for my parents to get me there so I didn’t join.
I started to get properly into running in my final year at university in Edinburgh where I saw an advert for a new running club and decided to join. Through this friendly club, I discovered I loved running, the places running can take you and meeting likeminded people so when I moved to Hertfordshire in Autumn 1999 for a three month contract I contacted a few local running clubs and North Herts Road Runners were the first to respond. I was living in London Colney at the time so NHRR weren’t the most handy club but I was more than happy to drive up the A1 for Wednesday night training at Letchworth Corner Sports club. I think one of the first people I ran with was Karen Dodsworth and I vaguely remember running the 5km series that used to be on Winter midweek evenings in Stevenage and Bedford Cross Country as some of my early races.
After chatting with a couple of other members in the changing rooms after training and listening them talk about in the bar at Whitethorn Lane, I was inspired to enter London Marathon and miraculously got in at my first attempt. In 2001 I completed the London Marathon like I said I would when I was a child! I have been a member of NHRR for 20 years now and I can’t imagine not being a member. I’ve now run 15 marathons, countless other races of various distances and completed a 40 races in my 40th year challenge but I think my favourite is XC. Although family commitments mean I can’t always make training at the moment, NHRR is a big part of my life and it has been great to have watched NHRR grow with and around me over the last 20 years. I have made friends (and met my husband!), spent time with lots of great people and enjoyed being part of the committee. So what next in my running story? At the moment, my aim is pretty low key, get rid of an injury and get down to the club on a regular basis.