10 Bury Running Festival champions share why they run
28 July 2022
28 July 2022
There are many reasons people run, from staying fit to boosting self-confidence to de-stressing at the end of a long day. These 10 runners from Bury have shared why they started running and what’s kept them motivated to keep it up.
We can’t wait to see them at the Bury Running Festival on Sunday 18th September!
Mairead began running in the spring of 2017, when her daughter asked her to accompany her to a Run Together session in Heaton Park. “To my horror my daughter insisted we go the following week. So I unearthed a pair of hardly worn trainers given me by my sister some six years prior, my husband’s baggy T-shirt and heavy track bottoms and headed out, terrified out of my skull that this ‘weird running lot’ would laugh at my get up, my being so overweight, my makeup still on since work etc. The things we do for our kids!”
However, she was amazed as how encouraging everyone was. “Nobody laughed, they encouraged, they were wonderful. Everyone was so welcoming that my prejudices and misconceptions of runners and running were all disappeared.” She said she had so much fun and felt like a child again!
“One of the ladies that night told me about Plodders. A women only running group for whom speed, ability, age, size etc. meant nothing. I went along to find Plodders is all about being a better you. Being better together, and above all sharing the joys that running brings to other women.”
Mairead did her first Parkrun in September 2017, and trained as a Run Leader the following year. She enjoyed helping coach a Couch to 5K group and then running her first 10K and 10 mile races. “I trained for and was ready for my first half marathon in 2019 but my son was taken ill the week before so I had to pull out. COVID hit and if it weren’t for Plodders and virtually encouraging the ladies to get out for “corona-solos” by doing so myself, I dread to think of my mental state.”
She wanted 2021 to be her half marathon year and, after training hard every Sunday, Mairead completed her first 13.1 mile race in Manchester in October 2021. “I loved it so much I’m currently training for another,” she says.
Ken Swarbrick is relatively new to running, and started doing it after he made a commitment to improve his health. “As recently as April 2018 I was a very hefty 27 stone, taking numerous pills each day for obesity related ailments and having to use a CPAP Machine to help with breathing at night. The realisation that I was following in my mother's footsteps with my ailments, and the next step being a fatal heart attack, was a real wake up call.”
To get in shape, Ken joined a local weight loss club, where he got a diet plan and a much-needed support network. He then bought a bike so he could exercise more. “A combination of improved diet and being more active ensured the weight dropped off very quickly. I then bought a fitness watch to record and keep track of my cycling and swimming.”
“A friend could see I had become quite proficient at cycling and swimming so asked me if I wanted to do a sprint triathlon at Fleetwood. He was doing the triathlon with his wife to raise money for Christies Hospital, who had successfully treated her for cancer. The same hospital had tried to treat my younger brother, who is sadly not with us anymore. How could I refuse?”
As Ken’s friends and colleagues sponsored over £500, he knew he couldn’t back out. He completed the triathlon in September 2019 and “a love for sport and fitness took hold.”
He then joined the Ramsbottom Running Club, where he “met some of the loveliest, friendliest people I could ever wish to meet, many of which I now consider to be good friends and they are the best support network. I now do club runs at Ramsbottom on Tuesday evening, track sessions at Bury Athletics Track on Friday evening and Parkrun on Saturday morning.”
Ken is now studying to become a Run Leader and will be supporting his running club’s upcoming Couch to 5K program. He is proud to say that he is no longer suffering from any obesity-related health issues.
Lynn was never interested in running, but after retiring she began volunteering at a mental health charity. A colleague talked her into running a 10K as a means of raising money for the charity, and her passion grew from there.
“My training led me to parkrun and I was hooked! When some friends started Prestwich Plodders as a safe place for women to run I was there right at the start encouraging women and girls of all abilities to run with us. I trained as a Run Leader with England Athletics to enable me to train people safely.”
“I love running with my Plodders, they are all so much fun, we look after each other, chat, laugh and actively (and vocally) encourage anyone who comes along, in fact we all say we are slightly bonkers!”
Lynn has entered several races and is currently training for a half marathon with the Prestwich Plodders. “We’re a mixed bag of ladies all ages, sizes and abilities but we stay together and no one is left behind…in fact I am usually the one bringing up the rear - ‘finish lines not finish times’ is my motto!”
“I haven’t run the Bury 10K yet but I did volunteer as a marshal at the first one, handing out goody bags to the finishers, I think it’s important to give back to our local running community. We are lucky to have so many running groups in the area and I love the fact that they are all so inclusive and above all friendly.”
One of Lynn’s favourite places to run is her local park, especially in the early morning: “It’s quiet, I see the same people, runners, walkers and dog walkers who all say good morning and are smiling, it always makes me feel good for the day ahead.”
Kerry started running at school – “I was the only one in my class that liked cross country and when there was a choice of what sport to do I would be told to put my hand down by my classmates when voting for cross country.” Since then, she’s enjoyed many sports, even including figure roller skating and trampolining, but now she mostly does free weight training in her garage gym and running.
“I have run on and off over the years but then a back injury slowed me down. I struggled really getting back into running during lockdown, so when a friend shared a post for RTR [Run Together Radcliffe] Couch to 5K group I jumped at the opportunity to join them as I knew that running with the group could only help me - and I wasn’t wrong!”
Kerry and her Couch to 5K group are doing great. We meet on a Thursday and then do 2 ‘homework runs’ during the week where we can meet up with others from the group if we so wish. We are all in a WhatsApp group which makes it easy to arrange to meet and give each other encouragement too!”
When her Couch to 5K training program wraps up, Kerry is looking forward to taking part in the Bury 10K.
Amanda is 39 and looking to get fit for 40 later this year! “I was sat just after New Year with a belly full of festive food when I saw the Run Together Radcliffe group on Facebook. I clicked onto the link for their first Couch to 5K program and managed to secure the final place, it must’ve been fate!”
Although she was nervous at first, she says she didn’t need to worry. “The Run Leaders and all the other Couch to 5K-ers were so lovely and welcoming.” As well as Thursday runs in Radcliffe, she’s started going to the Whitefield group on a Tuesday and meets up with a group on Sunday mornings in Heaton Park.
“Run Together Radcliffe has been a real game changer for me and I am forever grateful!”
Jon started running last June “due to the boredom of lockdown and partially to meet people in my locality.”
He now trains twice a week with Run Together Whitefield and Run Together Radcliffe, plus a parkrun on a Saturday. His favourite local route is in Radcliffe to Festival gardens and back.
“Back in 2017, I started off via the Bury Council Couch to 10K ten week programme in collaboration with the Ramsbottom Running Club and have not looked back since. I started this programme as I was looking to improve my fitness and to lose weight.”
Ayesha is now a member of Ramsbottom Running Club. “I take part in running with the club on Tuesdays in the evenings around Ramsbottom and at special club running events. I have been a member now since 2017. In addition, I run by myself as well with my husband around Bury and Radcliffe.” After completing the virtual Bury 10 Mile with the Ramsbottom Running Club, Ayesha is looking forward to taking part in the in person event this year.
“In addition, I am also a member of a local gym in Bury and attend sessions with my personal trainer who has been a real inspiration and a role model to me in my efforts of physical and mental well-being. The training here helps my running immensely as it builds my physical strength. I love taking part in the personal training sessions as well as running because it make me feel better about myself and improves my confidence.”
Donna runs with Run Together Radcliffe, which is “a brand new program put together by volunteers to help people of all ages get together and complete the Couch to 5K program.”
She started because a friend of hers, who is a member of Run Together Whitefield, said she had done it herself and really enjoyed it. “I am very pleased I did. We now go out together in groups running three times a week, we are all at different abilities but we are all in it together and there for each other.”
“My running journey began in Dec 2016 after being diagnosed with gall stones,” Andrea explains. After deciding to get fit in preparation for her surgery and her 60th birthday, she began doing the Couch to 5K program by herself. “The program is a 9 week plan...but I took it slowly and it took me 6 months to complete.”
Since completing the program, Andrea did her first Parkrun at Heaton Park in December 2017, and since then she’s done 66 parkruns across 19 different venues. She’s also joined several running groups: Parkrun at Heaton Park, Prestwich Plodders (an all-ladies running group of mixed abilities), Ramsbottom Running Club, the Sunnywood Project (a trail running group), and the Clarence Running Group – a group she helped start in January 2022.
Andrea's first 10K race was in Blackpool: “It felt amazing. Since then I have run numerous organised 5K, 8K and 10K runs.”
Through the Clarence Running Group, Andrea now leads a Couch to 5K group, which started on 17 February 2022.
Sacha runs with the Sunnywood Project, an organisation that “promotes wellbeing for teenagers and young children in the outdoors but it provides so much more for children and adults.”
She started with this group after seeing an ad for their Breakfast Run, and she loves it. “The first ever trail run was muddy and took me out of my comfort zone! I now have the most amazing and supportive friends from this group!”
Sacha is now a Run Leader with the Sunnywood Project and says, “I run trails, hills and routes I never thought I would all thanks to Sunnywood and the support of the members on a Thursday night and Sunday morning.”
“Without Sunnywood's support I would never have thought I could run at all and now I'm a Run Leader! ‘See a hill and run up it’ is now my quote which I never would have said before I joined the group!”
She’s training for the Bury 10K, as well as two half marathons. Her favourite local route is Redisher, Greenmount and Kirklees. Sacha especially likes doing this route with her running buddy – her dog, Patch.
Families can get involved by taking part in the Bury Fun Run, a 1.2km course that takes place on the same day. Find out more here.