The Sheffield school friends running into retirement together
18 July 2022
18 July 2022
He’s just turned 60, but Sheffield local John Somers isn’t letting that slow him down! On Sunday 25th September, he’ll be taking on the Sheffield 10K with his old friend from secondary school, Ian Brooks. This speedy pair are hoping to get a time under 50 minutes and be in the top 10 in their age group, and John feels confident that they’ll smash their goal.
John met Ian when they both started at Myers Grove School (now Forge Valley Community School) in Sheffield when they were 11 years old. “There was quite a large group of us, maybe seven or eight,” John explains. “We met through football and had a really good time, we represented the school. That’s the thing that kept us together.”
The group grew up and inevitably went their separate ways, with Ian even heading off to Bermuda for six years, but now they’re all back in and around Sheffield and enjoy catching up over games of golf. “We all have families and do our thing, but it’s the football thing that’s kept us together. And for me and Ian it’s been running – we’ve been running together since our university days,” John says.
John has always enjoyed running and finds it an effective way to unwind. Before retiring, John was the Chief Executive of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Much as he enjoyed his job, it was quite stressful, and he credits running with keeping him going during difficult times. He loves running around the scenic areas near Sheffield, such as Ladybower, Monsal Trail, Dam Flask, Chatsworth – “these are all just such beautiful places to run.”
Even when he’s travelling, John always packs his trainers. He’s explored cities such as Rome, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Barcelona, and more, on foot. He especially enjoyed coming across a natural hot spring on a secluded beach while out for a run while on holiday in Greece. He loves how accessible running is, pointing out that “Running’s there for the taking - it’s free, it’s amazing.”
Despite getting older, John doesn’t let that slow him down. “Now I’ve retired, I’ve got more time on my hands. I’ve actually never felt as fit as I do now. I walk the dog, run, play tennis…it’s an exciting new chapter of my life.” He explains how important it is to him to “have that fitness and general level of health to take into retirement.”
John turned 60 last Saturday, and Ian’s birthday is on 22nd July. Naturally, the two of them are “a bit nervous for 60, and going into the unknown”, but they’re also excited for this new part of life. It’s inspiring to see how these two have stayed active together, motivated each other, and connected through fitness for almost 50 years.
John and Ian have done the Sheffield 10K together before and absolutely love the event. “I think Sheffield is an amazing city. It’s probably one of the most underrated cities, and it’s one of the greenest cities. It’s a nice, attractive event and all of Sheffield running together is really nice,” John says.
They set the sub-50 minute goal for this event three years ago, and now that the big day is fast approaching, John’s now feeling confident they’ll meet it. When they did the Sheffield 10K last year, they both finished around 46 minutes. “If we get under 50 minutes, we’ll be over the moon. And if we’re in the top 10, then that will be a real bonus.” We wish these two speedy 60-year-olds the best of luck and can’t wait to see them cross the finish line.