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.

Jeff Allum

Jeff Allum from Brunswick in Ipswich, wanted to sign up to the Simplyhealth Great East Run because he is was keen to set a good example to the children he coaches at his local rugby club, Ipswich YM.

Jeff was a keen runner when he was younger and 15 years ago he took part in various running events.

But over the years his diet and fitness decreased and he began to gain weight.

Jeff wanted to be able to loose weight and to get back to the times when he enjoyed running a decade ago.

His half marathon journey in his own words is below:

“This achievement has really surpassed my expectations."

“My journey since signing up to the Simplyhealth Great East Run has been very rewarding.

“At the time of gaining a place, I could just about run 2k without stopping. “Since 2012 I have been a local volunteer rugby coach for a junior local team and although it was rewarding, it has led me to feel guilty about not doing enough exercise myself.

“I decided to take gentle steps in my running shoes again and I thought the goal of a half marathon seemed like a really good and challenging target.

“Steadily over the weeks and aided by a training plan from the coaches at Ipswich JAFFA, my weekly mileage increased to the point where I have recently reached half marathon distance during weekend training runs.

“This is an achievement which has really surpassed my expectations.

“My wife has helped me make better food choices at mealtimes and overall now feel fitter and healthier and less tempted by chocolate!

“I've lost over a stone in weight and reduced clothes sizes all around.

"Having the focus of the Simplyhealth Great East Run and weekly JAFFA training has been a great help and I look forward to Sunday with an increased confidence.”

For more information about the Simplyhealth Great East Run visit: