Four people who have been chosen to join a team to go from beginner runners to completing the Simplyhealth Great East Run met with the event's elite ambassador Lily Partridge to kickstart their training.
This year, British marathon runner Lily Partridge, who finished 8th as the first British female across the line, will provide guidance to the beginner runners as the event's new elite athlete ambassador for 2018.
The Simplyhealth Great East Run, which takes place on Sunday 16 September and is now in its second year, is sold out with no further entries being taken.
The group will also be supported by specialist running coaches from Ipswich Jaffa Running Club, who will provide them with weekly training sessions and a bespoke half marathon training plan.
Lily, will support the runners through question and answer sessions as well as being there to welcome the team across the finish line on event day.
Nick Partridge, from Southwold, lost a huge 13 stone in one year after he was advised by his GP to lose weight for the sake of his health.
He embarked on a strict lifestyle change involving diet and exercise and enjoyed running. But following a shoulder fracture, his fitness decreased, and he wasn't able to exercise.
He's been looking to improve his confidence with running again and thinks that joining the Half Marathon challenge team will help him return to the sport he loved.
Nick said: “I managed to lose 13 stone with the support of my family and friends so I think with the right network around me, I'll be able to get to where I need to be for my first half marathon.
“Great Run Local Southwold has also been pivotal to me getting my fitness back following my injury and I love taking part in their weekly events but I am hoping the coaching sessions with Jaffa will push me one step further.”
Leah Ambrose, from Ipswich, suffered an unexpected stroke at the young age of 37.
She was a keen, novice runner before taking ill and since then her balance, coordination and mental health has been affected. She's used physical activity as a way of helping her deal with the stress and hopes that training for the Simplyhealth Great East Run will help her find a love for running again.
She said: “I've been going out for short runs when I can and my persistence has paid off. I am really keen to grab the opportunity to continue to improve and take my training to the next level.
“I know the training sessions will be invaluable to someone who has been through my circumstances as continuing running will help manage my bouts of depression and also help to raise money for the Stroke Association!”
Joanne Porter, from Rushmere, discovered a lump in her arm which turned out to be cancerous. Thankfully after visiting her doctors, it was caught in time, but she required a skin graft to ensure that it had not spread.
Following her recovery, she decided she wanted to set herself a challenge to fundraise for Cancer Research UK.
Joanne said: “I am a complete amateur at running but my motto is anything is possible. “I need motivation as it's hard work being a mum, working and also fitting training in. I hope this can be my escape and that in turn I will learn to love running.
“I need me time and I'm hoping this can be my escape and that then in turn I will love to run, with help from someone that knows what they are doing.”
Amanda Cook, from Ipswich, suffers from Lupus which often leaves her fatigued with aches and pains.
The condition has drained her confidence but as she was once a keen runner in school, she hopes that the Half Marathon Challenge can offer her the support she needs to enjoy running again.
Amanda, 44, said: “I would love the challenge of training for a half marathon even though initially I am sure it will be daunting.
“I think I'd flourish with the support on offer and it would help me in so many levels, not just in my health but in my mind with the sense of achievement.”
Lily and the runners were joined by three of the coaches from Ipswich Jaffa, who will assist in their weekly training plans.
Alison Beech, chair of Ipswich Jaffa, said: “Ipswich Jaffa is again looking forward to welcoming the half marathon challenge runners to the club and to helping them achieve their goals with guidance and advice from our qualified and experienced coaching team.
“We know that peer encouragement and support is also important and will again offer temporary membership of the club, which last year's runners found helpful.”
The Simplyhealth Great East Run is staged in partnership with Suffolk County Council and offers 3,500 participants of all abilities to be their greatest by conquering a half marathon, which starts and finishes in Ipswich and travels out through the Suffolk countryside.
Abdul Razaq, Director of Public Health and Protection at Suffolk County Council said: “It is truly inspiring to hear the journey and challenge that these individuals are embarking on and I wish them all the very best with their training.
“I am sure Lily will be an inspiration to them and the many more runners who will be taking part on Sunday 16 September and making a positive contribution to our ambition to make Suffolk the most active county in England.”
For more information about the Simplyhealth Great East Run, visit: Greatrun.org/East