The Birmingham International Marathon takes place on October 15, 2017 - to sign up visit greatrun.org/birmingham-international-marathon

TWO years ago, Ruth Stokes could not run for a bus – but this year she will mark her 50th birthday by taking on her very first marathon after successfully battling obesity and diabetes.

Ruth was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in December 2014, but turned her life around through running, and will now tackle the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon in her old hometown in October.

The 49-year-old, who moved to Whickham, Tyne and Wear, from Birmingham in 1996, was determined to make positive changes in her lifestyle after her diagnosis.

After meeting her diabetic nurse, attending the DESMOND course for newly diagnosed diabetics and speaking to Diabetes UK, it became clear to Ruth that not only was diet control crucial in managing her diabetes, but regular exercise was also an important factor.

Ruth said: “Back then, I couldn't even run for a bus. In January 2015, I joined a local, friendly group Gibside Runners on the Couch 2 5k programme and also started to regularly run the 2k route at Great Run Local Gibside.

“Through the support of run leaders, my club, other runners and volunteers at Great Run Local, in February 2015 I achieved my Couch 2 5k medal.”

By then, Ruth had been bitten by the running bug. In April 2015, Ruth completed her first 10k, before she felt ready to challenge herself further by entering the Great North Run half marathon in September 2015, completing the run in a steady time of 3 hours and 7 minutes.

Along with family, friends and the Gibside runners, the support from Great Run Local Gibside has played a big part in keeping Ruth going for the past few years.

She said: “Running regularly at Gibside you get to meet people who genuinely care about and support you – the amount of well wishes and then congratulations on completing an event is fantastic. 

To date, since starting to run in January 2015, Ruth has gone on to complete three half marathons, several 5k and 10k races, almost 30 Great Run Locals and two triathlons.

And for 2017, Ruth has decided to do something extra special for her 50th birthday by entering the Birmingham International Marathon.

She explained: “Making changes to my eating and exercise routines wasn't easy, but I'm so glad I did.  My diabetes is under control by diet and exercise alone.

“There may come a time when I have to take medication for it, but I'm putting that off for as long as possible.

“I've found a form of exercise that I enjoy and I have proved that it's never too late to make changes.  If I - a previously unfit, obese person - can change and run, anyone can!”

Ruth will be raising money for Diabetes UK, to donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ruth-stokes4

  • Great Run Local is a national network of free, weekly, friendly running events organised by volunteers. Participants can choose from either 2k or 5k distances. For more information, visit greatrunlocal.org

The Birmingham International Marathon takes place on October 15, 2017 - to sign up visit greatrun.org/birmingham-international-marathon

We're celebrating all of the #RealRunners who take part in the Great Run series. Share your running tales and fails across our social media channels.

Why did you first start running?

I was diagnosed as type 2 diabetic and needed to do something.  I was angry and very upset that I had given myself a potentially life altering and limiting condition, as I did no exercise and was obese. Back then, I couldn't even run for a bus. In January 2015, I joined a local, friendly group Gibside Runners on the Couch 2 5k programme and also started to regularly run the 2k route at Great Run Local Gibside. Through the support of run leaders, my club, other runners and volunteers at Great Run Local, in February 2015 I achieved my Couch 2 5k medal.

Tell us a funny running story

There have been many, but one time, I realised I'd been running with my trousers on inside out.

Where do you train, how often?

All over the local area – running three times a week, and a bootcamp once a week. My favourite place to run is the Great Run Local at Gibside. Running regularly you get to meet people who genuinely care about and support you – the amount of well wishers and then congratulations on completing an event is fantastic

Do you ever have any running nightmares?

Yes – that I'm on the start line in my slippers

What do you eat before and after running?

It all depends on what time I'm running – if its early and less than 5k nothing, and bacon sandwich afterwards.  If the run is longer, then toast with peanut butter and jam

What do you love about running?

I love the new slimmer, more toned me and I have my life and health back

What do you hate about running?

Getting out the door to start, simply!

What has been your biggest running fail?

Having to go to the loo in a bush mid-run has to be the worst one.

How does running make you feel?

Tired, but proud. I still finish towards the back of the pack, but the cheers as I cross the finish line are genuine.

Who is your running idol or main inspiration?

I remember watching Brendan Foster when I was younger, and of course, Sir Mo Farah.