My journey began when my school teacher, Sue Westgarth, showed me the power of running. Sadly, Sue passed away in 2010 after suffering with Motor Neurone Disease. Whilst she may not be here today, her memory and energy follow me, and plenty of others, into every day.
Those of you who don’t know me outside of the racing world, won’t know where my running journey began. There are different motives that cause people to get into running, whether it be to get fit, lose weight, or because they tried it once and were quite good at it, but for me, it was an individual person.
Back in school, when I was only 6 years old, I was desperate to be part of the ‘elite’ club that was the running club. You got to go to lunch early, miss boring lessons, and you were able to have a laugh with all your friends outside, why wouldn’t you want to be in the running club? For me however, there was much more to it than that, it was the passion the sport could create that I had witnessed, that inspired me.
If you went to the same school as me, the name Sue Westgarth will definitely ring a bell. She was an amazing runner and an incredible individual. You couldn’t help but smile and laugh when she was around. She was more than just a teacher! I remember being desperate to join the school running club, led by Sue, but you had to wait until year 3 to even be considered. Being the impatient person I am, I couldn’t quite settle for that! Consequently, I pestered and pestered until I was allowed to join early in year 2.
There was no denying, if you were in the running club, you were on Sue’s list of favourites (not that she had favourites). I remember math lessons where the rest of the class were left to laboriously work away at times tables, and I was sat at Sue’s desk working out who would be on the cross country team. Her love and passion for the sport was completely contagious. I had never met someone who was so invested in a sport before, and I wanted to know what it was all about.
When I went along to my first day at the club, I hadn’t been more excited to run around the school fields ever before. There was a magical feeling about doing something so simple, yet being outside, that made you feel so happy and alive. And, if it turns out you are quite good at it, you begin to like it a little bit more. There was never a bad day with the club. I remember spending one Friday lunch running around the fields before we were greeted with a hail storm! We didn’t know what to do, so all of us, Sue included, laid like turtles on the ground, hoping it would hurt less. Whilst it doesn’t sound very appealing, we chose to run in awful weather, so you can’t help but laugh at the nuttiness of the situation.
Sadly, great people don’t last forever, however their memory, inspiration, and presence do! In 2010, Sue’s life came to an end age 51, after she fought a brutal battle with Motor Neurone Disease. The love for running she held so deeply, was taken from her. Sue’s dream and wish for me, was to see me run in an Essex vest. If only I could tell her I’d made that an England vest, she’d wouldn’t know what to say. Whilst she may be gone, I run every day for her and to pass the passion for running she gave to me, onto others. She was an incredible person who will never be forgotten and I have to thank for getting me into this crazy sport.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!