The Simplyhealth Great East Run is taking place for the first time on Sunday 24 September and 3,000 runners of all abilities are expected to line up on the start line in Ipswich.

Many of the runners will be taking on their first ever half marathon at the event.

Over eight months, four beginner runners have been supported by event organisers and Ipswich JAFFA running club to go from novice to half marathon runner by taking on the event this weekend.

The four runners were also given regular training advice from elite athlete Andy Vernon. Now their half marathon challenge is almost here, the group reflect on their progress over the last 34 weeks.

Faith Archer

Faith Archer from Hadleigh wanted to sign up for the Simplyhealth Great East Run because she wanted a goal to work towards while exercising.

Back in January, Faith admitted she was not a runner and found it difficult to exercise being a busy mum of two.

She wanted the support from a running coach to help her achieve her goal of being able to take part in a running event.

Faith’s progress in her own words is below:

"I really am a most unlikely runner!"

“I can hardly believe how far I've coming since winning a place in the Simplyhealth Great East Run.

“Back in February, I was part way through the NHS Couch to 5K running programme, and struggled to run for as long as 20 minutes. I never thought I would be able to run further than 5k in my life.

“Yet last weekend, I managed to run for 2 hours 20 minutes, and hopefully will run for longer on Sunday to make it round the whole 13.1 miles.

“I've attempted interval training, grappled with hills, nursed a broken toe and blisters, and survived a couple of timed 10K runs.

“None of this would have been possible without the support from the other competition winners, the training programme from Hannah at Ipswich JAFFA running club and the top tips from Andy Vernon.

“My husband has also taken up the challenge, and we're both running in support of St Elizabeth Hospice.

“Having the Simplyhealth Great East Run as a deadline has definitely helped get me off the sofa and out of the door in my running shoes.

“I feel fitter, have more energy and am quite astonished that I've come so far - I really am a most unlikely runner!

“Somehow, by plodding on week after week, increasing my longer runs, a half-marathon might actually be possible.”

Keep up to date with Faith's blog by clicking here.

For more information about the Simplyhealth Great East Run visit: