Taking on the Winchester Half Marathon 2019 challenge: Meet Our Runners

7 Aug 2019

On 22 September, over 2,000 keen runners will take on the Winchester Half Marathon, tackling a beautiful course of just over 13 miles which starts and ends in the centre of our historic city. Ten students and members of staff at the University of Winchester - one of the official race partners - have been given complimentary passes to the race. In this blog post, some of the runners share their reasons for taking part and tell us how their training is going.

Dr Sarah Bayless, Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Reasons for competing
I like to sign up for at least one event a year to give myself something to train for. The Hursley 10k is also one of my favourites so I often sign up for that. The hill in Oliver's Battery on the Winchester Half is a bit of a nemesis, so I have to try again this year and aim for a better time.

Novice or experienced runner
I've been running for about five years on and off, phases of several runs a week and other lazy phases of just once a week or less. I don't consider myself experienced though, maybe persistent.

New or old running shoes
I just looked at the soles yesterday, and it may be time for a new pair.

Morning or evening runner
Whatever time of day I can fit it into my schedule.

Hare or tortoise
Definitely tortoise.

Out-and-back or loop
Loop, preferably one I haven't done before.

Running hero
I don't have one.

Kelly Chesterman, Admissions Officer

Kelly trainers
Reasons for competing

To touch the void! Well, to see if I can pull it off with less than two months' training with no free time. Running can be really hard but for some reason I love it. Though not the bit when I first get going, that is truly hideous.

Novice or experienced runner
I've always been a runner of some kind or another. I've completed half marathons before children (fast!) and after children (slow!).

New or old running shoes
Old but with new socks.

Morning or evening runner
First thing before my children get up, though I'm squeezing in the odd mile to and from work in my PE kit around the school run.

Hare or tortoise
Tortoise, but I do try for a big (if slightly ungainly) finish.

Out-and-back or loop
Out-and-back, otherwise I'd get really bored (and end up heading for home before I hit my sweet spot!).

Running hero
Always Roger Bannister. And Haruki Murakami - What I Talk About When I Talk About Running changed my running life and has got me home on some very long runs.

Vanessa Corbett, Wellbeing Administrator

Vanessa's shoes
Reasons for competing

I needed a fitness goal for 2019.

Novice or experienced runner
Experienced - although this will only be my second half marathon.

New or old running shoes
New - I'm still wearing them in (pictured above).

Morning or evening runner
Lunch time!

Hare or tortoise
Hare.

Out-and-back or loop
I love seeing a loop on my Strava app when I finish my runs! I also get a little bored seeing the same things if I go out and back so a loop for me it is.

Running hero
My father-in-law. At the age of 25 he had back surgery to fuse together two discs. He had a very long recovery and was unable to run due to the pain in his back. Over the years his back grew stronger and at the age of 40 he started running, and he and I did his first 10km together. At the age of 55 he now does Ultra marathons and will happily do his own marathon distance run on a Saturday just for some exercise!!! He is nuts but also inspiring!

Piotr Laba, Second Chef

Reasons for competing
My main reason to enter the Winchester Half is to support the Macmillan charity and to challenge myself.

Novice or experienced runner
I try to run once or twice a week but so far it's once per month, so on that basis I think novice.

New or old running shoes
Definitely old shoes.

Morning or evening runner
Evening runner after work.

Hare or tortoise
Unfortunately, I'm a bit overweight so tortoise.

Running hero
I know one great runner, who works with me: Mark Brooks (chef/manager).

Elis Thomas (BA Hons) Ancient, Classical and Medieval Studies

Reasons for competing
I always find it so hard to be motivated to do cardio, challenging events such as this helps hold my feet to the fire and actually commit to organised training and fitness. Also you get a free shirt.

Novice or experienced runner
Definitely a novice. I  have completed two 10K’s in the past, in 63 and then 56 minutes, but I always absolutely hate my training up until the last week or two when I finally get into it. A half marathon will no doubt be the biggest physical challenge I apply myself too.

New or old running shoes
Old! Too tight to buy any more.

Morning or evening runner
Always Evening. I found it much more relaxing, cool and quiet, during the day I get too distracted by other people and often can’t find my stride.

Hare or tortoise
The pacing issues of the hare, with the speed of the tortoise.

Out-and-back or loop
A loop is far more natural and rewarding to complete.

Running hero
Don’t have one really.

Chris Try, BA (Hons) Global History and Politics

Chris TryReasons for competing
I have always been very sporty from an early age and have always been encouraged to take part in exercise. It is because of this attitude towards sport that I have constantly looked for new challenges and milestones to reach, with a half marathon being the 'natural' step up from my previous longest running event of 10km. Not only did I want to better my previous longest event, but I also wanted to use this as a focus for getting back into a more regimented form of training that I used to take part in, in a different sport, and gain the satisfaction of seeing improvements over a period of time.

Novice or experienced runner
I have had a lot of experience competing in sport, although this has generally not included long-distance running! Before coming to university, I competed regularly in road cycling and mountain biking events and trained hard to compete to national level. However, I have stopped doing this for the time being since coming to Winchester. Although I have taken part in running events before and since being at University, I have competed in distances significantly shorter than the half marathon (up to 800m). I have competed in longer events without proper preparation, and therefore I've struggled a little! I would describe myself as someone with a lot of experience with endurance sport, but not specifically in long-distance running!

New or old running shoes
On entering the race, I decided that I wanted new running shoes to come with the new challenge! However, as every week goes by and the event comes closer, I feel myself less likely to actually do this and I have continued to train in the shoes that I have trained in before. I think it often is important to run with equipment/clothing you are familiar with and comfortable in, so I'm not sure if I will change before the race or not.

Morning or evening runner
I have never been (and don't think I will ever be) an early morning person, so early morning running is not for me. My training has had to fit around my work schedule, with the timings of this often being a bit erratic and inconsistent, and so it is more a case of 'as and when' I can fit it in. It is nicer to run in cooler temperatures, but over years of competing in cycling events, I have become more accustomed to heat, so I can run at any time of the day (providing proper hydration and fuelling and that the weather is not exceptionally bad)!

Hare or tortoise
I think it's fair to describe myself as being quite competitive, and therefore it can be very tempting to try and go with the fast runners at the front in a long event! However, in my training I have been trying to work on a more evenly paced run, focussing on not burning out at the beginning. So, I would describe myself as more naturally like a Hare but trying to be (just a little) more like the Tortoise!

Out-and-back or loop
I always or prefer to do a loop, so I'm able to see fresh scenery which is better for training.

Running hero
I think it's hard to pick just one person, as there is a whole range of athletes who have competed over many decades that provide inspiration. Also, aside from professional running, I think anyone who demonstrates a passion for their sport and shows dedication can be inspirational and 'heroic'.

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