Captains’ Corner: Inspiration

Our latest Captains’ Corner is from Debbie, who talks about her running inspiration and the differences it made on her life. Thanks for sharing your story with us Debbie.

I had been running for a couple of years when I met the fellow runner who I now see as my running mentor. I was worried about how my lunchtime runs were going to change, given that I was running along Stokes Bay every lunchtime, and my change of job was taking me to the top of Portsdown Hill. The one thing obvious to me was that hills were going to become a large part of my running life, what I didn’t realise was that I was about to meet a truly awesome runner, who was happy to take fellow runners under his wing, and give them the encouragement they needed.

Day one of my new job saw me enquiring about running routes, when Keith’s ears pricked up. Before I knew it, I was inundated with routes and advice, and details of a monthly handicap run (which I am now responsible for organising, all these years later). Keith introduced me to hill running, often shouting in my ear to keep me running up the hills, it still helps me now, I just have to picture him running on alongside me. He also encouraged me to try cross country running, and showed a group of us all the routes around the hill, even though he was always faster than most of us. I called it his ‘care in the community’ work. Keith always did the Meon Valley Plod, Marlborough Downs Challenge, and also won a 100 mile race, which saw him wearing flip flops around the office for a week afterwards. 

Keith also loved the London Marathon, and was disappointed if he didn’t finish under 3 hours, his best time being 2:49. He encouraged (nagged) me to enter when I was very reluctant to take on a marathon. And he eventually got his way, when I got a club place in 2010. It would have been his 10th in a row, and I was looking forward to seeing him at the finish. Sadly, Keith became ill before the race and couldn’t make it. I ran for Rowans Hospice, and when I had finished he was the second person I rang after my husband, to let him know how I had got on. 

We lost Keith later that year, due to a brain tumour. He was just 45. He is still sadly missed amongst our running colleagues, but we remember him every year with a cross country Christmas race which we have renamed in his memory. Keith used to organise this race, so we had a trophy made, and it is awarded to the winner of the (handicapped) race each year.

Keith will always remain my biggest running influence, but these days I can be inspired in many different ways, by many different runners. I see people from each end of the scale, from racing snakes to back of the packers, who are so determined in their efforts, and so in awe of their own accomplishments that you couldn’t fail to be impressed. I’ve seen people progress from behind me at the finish to so far ahead that they’ve already showered by the time I get there, and I’ve seen people progress from basically non-runners to completing half marathons, and even off road marathons. You people know who you are, so take a bow.

Not forgetting those who coach, lead, organise, marshal and just shout encouragement, they are busy helping us stay motivated. 

Try to think of who inspires you most, and let them know how cool they are….

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