Power of Running: Holly Tilt

At The Great Run Company, we believe in the power of running – our runners share their inspirational stories for taking part in our AJ Bell Great Run series events, whether it be the 10k, half marathon, or 10mile – and it’s clear to see: everyone has a story and reason for running.

Discover some of the amazing stories behind the tens of thousands of runners who line up across our start lines each year.

In our Power of Running campaign, we are bringing to life inspirational stories that highlight the transformative impact running has on individuals and communities in Great Run locations across the UK. There are many reasons for running, but we’ll be particularly emphasising stories of mental health, community, fundraising, and physical fitness.

Holly Tilt, 28, is running the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run half marathon

Holly is making her comeback one year after sustaining a serious head injury, all while continuing to manage the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome daily.

Like many others, 28-year-old Holly first took up running during lockdown, following the ‘Couch to 5k’ programme. It wasn’t long before she was hooked, soon progressing to 10k, half-marathon and marathon distances. Running became a significant part of Holly’s life, so when doctors told her she’d have to stop running, the news came as a major blow to her.

That was in May 2023, soon after Holly sustained a serious head injury that continues to affect her daily life.

“When I first started running, I never imagined I’d become a ‘runner’ and never imagined it would have such a huge impact on my life,” says Holly. “I could not have anticipated everything that you learn from running aside from the physical benefits.

“Running has such power because it’s not just about putting one foot in front of the other. It’s about structure and setting a goal. It’s about pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of, getting outside and doing something good for yourself and looking after yourself mentally and physically. Running has the power to create real change in your life and sometimes you don’t realise it’s happening. It’s a joy for me and an anchor.

“Running has been an enormous source of inspiration to me because I had not been able to benefit from the power of running for a period of time and so I’m even more grateful for it now.”

“Running provides me with time on my own and time to think about things – or time to not think about things. It’s provided me with conversation starters and instant connections to people and I’ve become part of a beautiful community of runners.”
Apart from having to take time out to recover from injuries along the way, Holly had maintained her focus on running over the years, so the idea of having to stop was a major setback for her.

“Soon after I was hit on the head, there were several things I was told I couldn’t do – and running was one of them. I have post-concussion syndrome, which I would best describe as a very long concussion, and I manage the symptoms on a daily basis. I don’t know how long it’s going to last.”

“I couldn’t have imagined how significant running would become in my life and to be able to do this again, after my injury has changed my life so much, it’s a real blessing for me. At first, I’d just try to run for about five or ten minutes and now I’m well on my way to reaching that half-marathon distance.”

“I’m a big believer and advocate for running for mental health, and exercise has been a huge part of my recovery. Bristol is my nearest city to my home and my university city – where I went to drama school to study for my career in the theatre industry which I can’t go back to post injury. The Great Bristol Run is the weekend of the one-year anniversary of my injury and significant life change. Making my comeback after I thought I wouldn’t be able to run at again; let alone run events – it’s magic.”


Submit your Power of Running story
Everyone who sets out for a training run or signs up to a Great Run series event is a runner, regardless of finish time, and everyone has their own reason for running. Tell us about your running story and what the Power of Running means to you, and you could feature in our campaign: Submit your story here.

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