Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Chasing Ron Hill

Yes that's right, 365 days in a row. Because... because why not?! Ron Hill ran every day for over 50 years, I keep saying I have a long way to go to catch him up :) 

Ok a little bit about me.

I was never a runner when I was younger, didn't really like sport at all really. I still shudder when we do 'team games' during a warm up at Harriers!
I was however still active, going hiking with my dad and doing my Duke of Edinburgh Awards as well as horse riding as a teen.

It was Peter Wragg and Catriona Gaudie, both former Harriers who suggested I was 'tall and skinny and looked like a runner' and Peter said I should contact Rob Burn at Harriers. At this point, I had done a couple of the Cancer Research Race for Life and was almost thirty. I was in to long distance walking and had recently found out that long distance running was a thing, I'd never heard of it before but it peaked my interest. Specifically, I had read an article about a chap who had run the Cleveland Way in under 24 hours. I had hiked it in a week, it seemed incredible.

I contacted Rob and he talked me in to coming down to a training session, I'm not sure I even owned any lycra when I first turned up at the school sports hall, I certainly couldn't run very far, I had been practising a little and could manage a half mile chunk before needing a walk break. The Harriers took me under their wings, I was made to feel very welcome and I was hooked straight away. I completed my first Christmas Handicap a month later, running the full two miles without stopping and came in second place! By February 2011 I was competing at Cross Country. I enjoyed the muddy fields more than tarmac and I was learning more about trail and fell running, although I was yet to try it out.

It still took a long time to learn to love running, it was hard. It still is hard, but I enjoyed the physical effort and gradual improvement. All the time making friends and getting involved in the social aspect of being part of a running club. I was also involved behind the scenes as Club Secretary for 7 years, only stepping down in 2019. 

Gradually, I was doing more off road stuff and that it where my passion lies, I don't know when it clicked, but suddenly I loved running! Getting the typical running grumpiness if I couldn't get out and exercise.

I did my first fell race, Gribdale Gallop, in the summer of 2011. I was so nervous, I remember shaking like a leaf on the start line. But I got round in one piece and never looked back! But I wanted to go further. I'm not fast, never have been, so distance and technical ground became my 'thing' relishing big hills and muddy terrain. A year later I completed my first marathon the Osmotherly Pheonix, a pretty tough route to start with!!

From there, with a lot of help from the Club and my running friends, I have gone on to complete multiple marathons and several ultra races, the longest so far being 55 miles and all off-road. I have made attempts at a 100 mile race, but a finish at that distance so far eludes me. The training involved for that is long and gruelling and takes over your life.

Currently, I have been 'streaking' which doesn't mean running with no clothes on! No, following in the footsteps of the legendary Ron Hill, I've run every day for just over a year. The rules are simple, it has to be at least a mile, and it has to be quicker than a 15 minute mile. I've done this before, but been stopped by injury, or illness or just 'life' getting in the way. This time however, I am pleased to make it to (and now past) 365 days. I'll keep going until I am forced to stop, but I am enjoying the challenge, every day is a new opportunity.

The running community has introduced me to things I didn't know existed, I've been to places not seen by many and experienced such highs you'd think I was on drugs! The friendships that evolve from running with someone for hours on end, through the night and seeing each other at our most vulnerable are without comparison. 

And all because I made that phone call to Rob one evening to 'ask about running Club'.