Three families from the North West are starting a new chapter in their family story after being chosen by organisers to take part in the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run Family Challenge.
The Parry family, from Prestwich in Greater Manchester, the Wilkinson family from Bolton and the Moore family from Salford have set themselves the goal of improving their health and wellbeing in 2018 by training for and taking part in the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run on Sunday 20th May.
Families across the region were asked to let organisers know why they wanted to take part in the challenge which offers training plans, expert led sessions and ongoing advice, to support them in their journey to the start line, whether they’re taking on the 10K, Half Marathon or Junior and Mini distance.
Sara Parry and her husband Dominic, who are both 42, will take on the 10k, with their children Keira, 14, Fraser, 11, Erica, 10, Heidi, 8 and Skylar, 3, taking on the Simplyhealth Junior and Mini Great Manchester Run.
The family, who live in Prestwich, have set themselves the challenge in order to help manage Erica’s asthma and Fraser’s autism. They regularly take part in organised runs together and hope to improve their distance goals by taking on the 10k and kids’ events.
Sara, who is a full-time mum, said: “We as a family are really interested in getting fit. My husband and three children have been taking part in local organised runs for around a year and love the atmosphere.
“Fraser was diagnosed with a type of Autism called Aspergers in 2016. We had always known he was a bit different. It includes social, emotional and communication difficulties and it affects his ability to easily do everyday tasks.
“Erica was born with a small hole in her heart, which healed naturally, but a year ago she started finding it very difficult to breathe.
“She was diagnosed with Asthma and put on a treatment plan. She has made a great improvement with treatment.
“I myself am overweight and again I have asthma. This has held me back with running but in November I did a charity fun run that made me realise I could power walk or jog 5k.
“The benefit to Erica has been the same as me, building up our lung power to strengthen our breathing and get fitter and healthier.
“The benefit for Fraser has been getting him outdoors, away from technology, it helps calm his anxiety and free his mind.
“There is an extra challenge with setting ourselves a goal of doing the 10k, something that we have never done before.
“I think the children will really benefit from taking part in the Simplyhealth Junior and Mini Great Manchester Run.”
Caroline Wilkinson and her best friend Leanne Benson, both 48, will also take on the 10k challenge with Caroline’s children Eleanor, 16, and Matthew, 11, taking part in the Junior run.
Caroline is a full-time mental health nurse student and has worked in the NHS for a number of years. After recovering from a broken leg in 2016, she hopes to increase both her mental and physical health by training for the event with her family.
Both Caroline and Leanne work in the NHS and are huge advocates of mental health awareness. They have taken part in Mind’s charity initiative to run every day in the month of January.
Caroline, who lives in Bolton, said: “I signed up to take part in the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run Family Challenge because I really want to get back into running and taking part in events.
“I broke my leg in May 2016 and have not been able to do any exercise and really wanted to return to my peak fitness.
“I am a single parent and have some weight to lose from being completely inactive for eight months and think this a great opportunity to do so.”
“Running is so important for stress relief and being outdoors really helps improve your mental health.
“Eleanor and Matthew love running so it’s great to be able to take part in something together as a family as Eleanor really wants to join the RAF as a nurse and Matthew is part of Bolton Harriers.
Leanne, who runs the postgraduate library at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, added: “I have had a tough year and really wanted to get back into running. Caroline and I have taken part in mental health charity Mind’s RED January, where we ran every day in January and it’s been very beneficial.”
Three generations of the Moore family, Tim, 71, Steven, 37 and seven-year-old Ethan are also taking on the Family Challenge to continue their love of running together.
Stephen said: “As a family we have taken part in a lot of running events before because it provides us with extra motivation.
“It allows us to bond more as a family to do something that is meaningful and fun.
“We have taken part in the Great Manchester Run nearly every year since it started. It’s a fun day out and provides us with a goal to get out of the door.
“It gives us extra encouragement to get fit, as well as providing friendly competition.
“The best thing about a running event is the friendly atmosphere, the feeling of being part of something and the accomplishment when we cross the finish line.”
David Hart, from event organisers the Great Run Company added: “We know how hard it is for parents of young children to stay fit and healthy while also juggling the demands of home and work life.
“We hope that by sharing their progress these three families, with very different challenges and motivations, will inspire their friends and the wider community to get more active, more regularly as a family.”
The Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run welcomes people of all ages and abilities to a running celebration in the heart of the city centre. The course goes past Old Trafford, the Imperial War Museum and the Lowry before heading back to the spectator packed finish line in the shadow of Beetham Tower on Deansgate.
The Simplyhealth Mini and Junior Great Manchester Run takes place on the same day as the adult event so young runners and budding athletes can experience the buzz and even share the same start line as their mums and dads.