Where to begin? From the beginning I guess! My childhood in the countryside and near the coast started my love for the outdoors, aided by some amazing teachers who inspired me to take up outdoor pursuits in my teenage years. Although I dabbled in cross-country running whilst at school, it was mountain-walking that dominated my life until an age at which some people are thinking of retiring from running!
My first running goal was to run the London Marathon; I was born back to front and have continued doing things in reverse ever since, according to my mother! Having spent a whole day at Mile 24 handing out bottles of water to runners one year, my arms hurt so much I figured it must be easier to run it, so I did, and it was. Inspired to join a running club, I spread my wings to different distances of road-racing, followed by some adventures on trails. The more I ran on trails, the more I loved it. Even my brief foray into triathlon was trail-inspired. Aside from a few lean periods due to illness and holding down a very demanding job, I have been running on trails ever since.
I’ve been lucky to run on trails in some amazing places, including all over the UK, the Swiss Alps and the Algarve. Do I have a favourite? In short, no! Having lived there for four years, the Lake District holds a special place in my heart and has challenged my running skills on many an occasion; a remote section of the Speyside Way near Aviemore was one of my enjoyable runs on a warm, sunny February day; the Midsummer Munro half marathon on Surrey, with its hundreds of steps, was a loveable killer; I could go on and on. In fact what I love most of all is heading out on the trails near my home, map in hand, exploring and adding to the network of paths and trails I already know.
Racing on trails is also part of my life. In my earlier days, on the roads, I had reasonable speed and a competitive streak; these days my competitive nature emerges only at parkrun and cross-country. I enter races though, as they are challenging experiences, often on new routes, and the cameraderie helps me through, albeit nearer to the back of the pack these days.
Running, in all forms, has helped me cope with what has been an extremely challenging and demanding career. For a long time it kept me sane, but towards the end of 2015 the scales tipped and it was not enough to keep me from a stress-related breakdown. Ironically though, it is running that continues to be my key tool to recovery, and running that I hope will keep me well.