An Annual Tradition With Heart
Major heart attack survivor embarks on annual 10k at the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run
Richard George was 48 years-old when he had a major heart attack. That was in 2012, but today he’s preparing to run the 10k at the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run on Sunday 14 May in what has become an annual fundraising effort for the British Heart Foundation.
“When I had my heart attack, I was told I’d died four times,” he explains. “But they brought me back each time and now I do this every year to raise funds and support for such an important charity.”
In the years before his heart attack, Richard played football “at a pretty good level” and ran a youth team, so considered himself to be relatively fit. However, he only got into running when it became part of his recovery.
“I joined a gym as part of my rehab to get myself fit again and get my heart muscles going,” he explains. “So I started running on the treadmill and carried on from there. Eventually, I dropped off the gym a bit and just kept running outside.”
He was inspired to do his first Bristol 10k in 2014 after supporting a friend as a spectator.
“The year after my heart attack, I watched my friend do the 10k and there was such a great atmosphere. So many people were running and all these different charities were benefiting,” he says.
“I decided to have a go myself and do it for the British Heart Foundation. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’ve done it every year since.”
Now an annual routine for Richard, his training for the AJ Bell Great Bristol 10k carries on throughout the year with a weekly 5k run on a weekend, which he increases as the race approaches.
“I have a track near me that I can run on, which really helps,” he says. “About six months before the race, I start to up my distance so that I’m doing around 8k in the final weeks. I don’t do any more than that though, as I find I easily get pulls and strains and don’t want to injure myself before the race. If I can do 8k beforehand, I know I can do the whole 10 on the day.”
Richard’s goal is to complete the 10k in less than 56 minutes – his time in 2022.
“When I first did the race, I finished in 54 minutes, which was one of my best times. But fitness wavers and, if you get a little injury, sometimes it ends up taking over an hour to finish. I’m in the mindset of trying to beat the hour, so that’s my goal. It depends on how you feel on the day, but the adrenaline helps a lot.”
Richard has managed to raise around £1,000 for the British Heart Foundation each year he’s taken part in the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run.
“I’ve got a lot of support, but I know times are harder this year so I might not be able to raise as much as usual. It all helps though, no matter how much you’re able to raise.
“I think we underestimate the continual support that the BHF requires to invest into research and equipment to help everyone who suffers from heart attacks each year. The biggest reason why I continue to raise money is so that I can give back something to everyone who saved my life.”
After getting through such a serious medical emergency, Richard is happy to have the opportunity to take part in the 10k every year.
“When I went to the doctors not long after my heart attack, they told me they wouldn’t have expected me to survive. So that was an eye-opener. But I’m not a person who gets down too much and I try to look at the positives, so I just saw it as a second chance and tried to make the best of things.
“I try to keep as healthy as I can, including my eating habits, and I try to keep fit. Doing the 10k at the Great Bristol Run every year gives me that fitness goal and is a big motivator to keep running.”
The AJ Bell Great Bristol Run takes place on Sunday 14 May. Each year, thousands of runners push their perseverance and passion to the limit and take on the super-scenic 10k and half marathon routes.
Starting and finishing in the heart of the city, runners can expect inspiring sights, iconic landmarks and incredible local support all along the route. But it’s not just the inspiring scenery that attracts runners from far and wide: the start line DJ, rocking on-course music zones and post-race celebrations create an unbeatable atmosphere.
You can donate to Richard’s cause here.