A 60th Birthday Celebration with a Difference

Marking a milestone birthday at the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run

Some may choose to host a big party to celebrate a milestone birthday, while others might book a special holiday, but Linda Taylor decided to mark her 60th birthday this year by signing up for every AJ Bell Great Run event in 2023. Linda will take on the half marathon, her second race of the year, as she also intends to complete the AJ Bell Great Birmingham Run the week before.

“I did the 10 miles at the Great South Run last year and absolutely loved it, so I thought I’d try doing all the Great Runs for my 60th,” explains Linda, who’s based in Loughborough.

“It helps that they’re all in nice places, so I get to spend time in some lovely cities! I haven’t done the Bristol race before, so I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s a fabulous city and I’ll be able to take in the sights and chat to some new people along the way. “I know it’s a flat course and I’ve heard great things about the atmosphere there, so I’m sure that will make a big difference on the day.”

Linda and her husband will be travelling to the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run in her campervan – a “lockdown purchase” that means she’ll be able to stay on the outskirts of the city for the weekend and do some exploring before and after the race.

A passion for sport

Linda first “caught the bug” for running more than 40 years ago during her placement year as an applied chemistry student at Nottingham Trent University. “Apart from a few gaps when I had my children, I’ve always kept up running. It’s so good for both the body and soul,” she says.

After taking a few different turns, her career eventually saw her join England Squash as a coach and Head of Strategic Partnerships – forming a link between counties and the Head Office. She remains a passionate advocate for participating in sport – especially for women and girls. “As a country, we desperately need to keep funding sport. It’s a great leveller and the whole ethos of the Great Run series reflects everything that’s good about it. The events are so well managed and there’s always a great atmosphere.

“I know from my time working at England Squash that the backing of companies such as AJ Bell – which has also been involved in squash sponsorship – plays an important role in making things happen.”

Charity support

While Linda hadn’t initially intended to tie her birthday challenge to any fundraising, she’s decided to support a cause that’s very close to her family. “Last year we lost a member of our family to pancreatic cancer,” she explains. “He was only in his 40s and, like so many who experience this illness, he didn’t know he had it until it was too late. Some of my close family members have taken part in Pancreatic Cancer UK’s ’28 Miles in 28 Days’ challenge – where participants jog 28 miles across the month of February – and any further funds I can raise through my own challenge will be added to theirs.” As well as raising funds, Linda’s aim for each race is “just to get around the course!” She adds: “But it would be wonderful if I manage to do every race without stopping.”

A busy year

Linda will be taking part in the Half-Marathon races at most of the AJ Bell Great Run events. A week after the Bristol race, she’ll be joining the UK’s biggest 10k race at the AJ Bell Great Manchester Run, which is celebrating its 20th year.
“After the Manchester event I’ll have the summer off before the Great North Run, the Great Scottish Run and the Great South Run. So I’ll have time for more training in between!” When Linda crosses the finish line at the AJ Bell Great South Run later this year, a group of close friends will be there to cheer her on as she ends the final event in her challenge.But for now, she’s taking each race at a time and is looking forward to experiencing the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run in all its glory.

You can sponsor Linda’s 60th birthday challenge here.

Entries for the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run 10k, Half Marathon and Family Run, which take place on Sunday 14 May, are now open. Find out more here.

As well as taking in Bristol’s iconic harbourside area, the Great Bristol Run Half-Marathon course weaves along the beautiful and peaceful Avon Gorge passing under the world famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, before joining the 10k route at Spike Island. At this year’s event, runners can look forward to brand new entertainment zones and live music adding to the buzzing atmosphere throughout the race.