Five Beginner Runners To Take On First Half Marathon

Entries for the inaugural Great East Run are now open:

A woman who beat breast cancer, a rugby coach and former 20 stone man are among a group of beginner runners who have signed up to take on the Great East Run as their first ever half marathon.

The Great East Run teamed up with local Suffolk-based newspaper group Archant, to find five novice runners who are looking to transform themselves and take their health and fitness seriously.

The famous five took part in their first training session at Great Run Local, Needham Lake, which offers free 2k and 5k runs every Sunday.

They will join 2,500 others at the Great East Run on Sunday 24 September to take on the half marathon.

Sara Spreadbridge

Sara has lost an impressive three stone in weight since taking up running in 2016.

She was dragged along to Ipswich’s Great Run Local at Needham Lake by her sister to take part in the 2km run and enjoyed the atmosphere so much that she decided to push herself and take part in the 5km route.

After achieving something she never thought was possible last year, Sara decided to search for a new and exciting challenge for 2017.

The Great East Run will be the very first Half Marathon she has ever taken part in.

Sara said: “I was so excited at the prospect of running a Half Marathon but I am also very scared. “I know I need a new challenge this year to keep off the good work and hopefully I can lose more weight in the process!”

Tony Holland

Tony has transformed himself from an unfit sales worker into a keen beginner runner, losing over three stone in the process.

Tony reached 20 stone at the beginning of 2016 because of an unhealthy diet combined with contestant travelling around the country in his car for work, meaning he struggled to exercise.

Since becoming a member of Great Run Local at Needham Lake, he has never looked back. Tony, 47, was inspired to join after his son Josh also started running for his Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Tony said: “I was a decent runner at school so thought I would find running easy to get back into.

“However it became a lot harder when I was carrying too much weight and when I realised I had reached 20 stone, I knew something had to change. I persevered and now it’s really become a great part of my week. I know I need to lose more weight to live a healthy lifestyle and signing up to a Half Marathon will be the challenge I need to motivate me.”

Paula Shepherd

Paula was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and managed to beat the disease after various treatments and three operations.

Paula is taking part in the Great East Run to raise funds for the local children’s support group that she set up that supports kids that have been affected by their parents having cancer.

She wants to raise money to pay for a monthly swimming group in the Crown Pools in Ipswich.

Paula said: “I had always been a person involved in fitness and was someone who ate healthily and I had no history of cancer in my family.

“Now after treatment I am getting back to normal life and I have found that running has helped me do this.

“It took me eight months to progress to a 5k run but research has shown that by doing 150 minutes of exercise each week, it can cut your risk of cancer reoccurring by 50%.

“I also found that running helps me mentally by giving me some headspace.”

Jeff Allum

Jeff is 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 the Great North Run. Over the years his diet and fitness has decreased and he began to gain weight.

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

Jeff said: “My proudest achievement was taking part in the Great North Run but in the years since, my levels of running have really trailed off and my age and waistline has increased.

“Since 2012 I have been a local volunteer rugby coach for a junior local team and although it has been 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 think the goal of the Great East Run seems like a really good target.”

Faith Archer 

Faith wanted to sign up for the Great East Run because she wanted a goal to work towards while exercising.

Faith admits she is not a runner and finds it difficult to exercise being a busy mum of two and thinks that the support from a running coach would help her achieve her goal of being able to take part in a running event.

Faye said: “I would not consider myself remotely as a confident runner and as a 45-year-old mother of two, I found myself having little time to commit to exercise.

“Running seemed like the perfect solution and last year I managed to reach 5k by spending a bit of time focusing on my own fitness. “But without a specific goal to aim towards I stopped running and I made a New Year’s Resolution to get back into it.

“Running 13 miles would be a huge challenge but I think with help and having something to focus on I could make it possible.”

Enter the Great East run at: