Kate Fry and her father Les are running the Great Bristol Run together on Sunday 25 September.
After Kate, 33, moved to Edinburgh 10 years ago, she made a point of going for a run with Les, her Bristol-based father, every time they met up. When the first Coronavirus lockdown hit in March 2020, the pair decided to continue running ‘together’, despite the hundreds of miles between them.
Kate bought Les their Great Bristol Run entries as a Father’s Day present so they could race in person as it is their favourite thing to do together. Having done a 10k in Edinburgh, this race in Bristol will give them a “set” of the home towns.
“I’d usually see my Dad around six times a year and we’d always make a point of running together as often as possible during those visits. Whenever we run together, we always chat the whole time. I know that if I’m still able to talk to Dad, I’m running at a good pace and not pushing myself harder than I should,” explains Kate.
Now 70, Les Fry has been a keen runner for decades and his daughter became a regular runner herself during her time at university. Despite their age gap, Kate’s experience of knee injuries makes her father’s pace a good match for hers and they often have their “best chats” while out for a run.
“Because I’ve lived far away from home for a while, I’m used to having Skype calls with my family and so the pandemic didn’t change things too much at the beginning. But the kind of chats I have with my Dad while running aren’t the same as the day-to-day things you talk about on a video call. The chats we have when we go running are often much deeper as it’s sometimes easier when you aren’t having to look at someone eye-to-eye.”
Missing the opportunity to join her father in person, Kate came up with the idea of running with their mobiles on speaker phone, allowing them to talk to each other as they ran their way around their own cities.
“It worked so well the first time, when we set ourselves a half marathon challenge in May 2020, we decided to do it a few times per week. We’d both get ready, then one of us would ring the other at a set time, count in, then start running and cover a similar distance.
“Dad would often be running on the Clifton Downs, while I’d be making my way around Holyrood Park, but we’d be chatting together the whole way.
“We’re very alike in how we deal with problems and our mental health is quite similar. In lockdown, I leant a lot on my partner and my Dad could lean on my Mum, but Dad and I are so alike and we found it good to sound off to each other about how we were really feeling in lockdown. We talk about all kinds of things on our runs, from putting the political world to rights, to books, films, anything that’s on our minds.”
At first, Kate found it strange to run while holding her phone, but with a small enough handset, she quickly got used to it – despite a minor setback when she tripped during one run and broke her phone screen.
Kate still often runs ‘together’ with Les and is looking forward to running with him in person when they take part in the 10k race at this year’s Great Bristol Run.
“When we last did a competitive race together – a 10k in Edinburgh – everyone was chatting at the start line, but as soon as the race was about to begin, they all went silent, gritted their teeth and kept their eyes down. Not my Dad and I! We didn’t stop chatting from start to finish and crossed the finish line hand in hand.”
At this year’s Great Bristol Run, runners can look forward to a live, start line DJ, pumping out a high energy set to help them find their groove for the challenge ahead.
Timed pacers will be on hand to make sure runners have the best possible chance of smashing out a personal best and as they cross the line and complete their challenge, they will have the chance to enjoy an Après Run zone in Millennium Square for the very first time. Billed as the perfect place for post-race celebrations, the afterparty will feature more great music as well as food and drink stalls, ensuring the celebrations continue long past the finish line.
For more information on the Great Bristol Run, including entry details, visit: www.greatrun.org/events/great-bristol-run/