Ready for the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run

Statement Ad

Bristol will host tens of thousands of runners from across the South West and beyond on Sunday, 19 May 2024 when the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run returns to the city’s streets. And with the half marathon, 10k and Family Run sold out, this year’s event promises to be the biggest yet!

We’ve been talking to some of the inspiring runners who’ll be joining us at the start line about their reasons for taking on the challenge and what the power of running means to them.

The importance of physical fitness

In December 2021, Amanda Palmer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease aged 47 years-old. However, she’s been determined to continue her enjoyment of running and will be taking part in the half-marathon at this year’s AJ Bell Great Bristol Run.

“The power of running is physical fitness. Running has always been my go-to for mental and physical fitness and now it’s more important than ever,” says Amanda.

“Intense exercise has been proven to slow the progression of Parkinson’s and running makes me feel more fluid. I never regret going for a run, it makes you feel alive and ready to face anything.”

A group effort

No less than 64 runners will be taking part in the 10k at this year’s AJ Bell Great Bristol Run to raise funds for the Women’s Royal Army Corps (WRAC) Association, which supports female veterans around the country. This includes Katrina Walley, who joined the army as a 17-year-old in 1980 and credits her time in the forces for nurturing her love of running.

Now 61 years-old, Katrina continues to run regularly.

“I’m one of the youngest ladies taking part in the 10k for WRAC – the oldest is 82 and in a wheelchair. It’s amazing. We’ve got ladies travelling from all over the country and there are quite a few supporters who are coming along to watch us too.

“I regularly took part in cross-country events during my 23 years in the army and it’s always stayed with me. When I go on regular runs I just feel lighter in myself. It’s a release. It keeps my body moving, especially as I’m getting older.”

VI Runners 10k Challenge

This year’s AJ Bell Great Bristol Run will include the fourth annual Visually Impaired (VI) Runners 10k Challenge, the first dedicated race in the UK for blind and partially sighted runners.

Naqi Rizvi lost his eyesight as a child, but has gone on to live a highly active, busy life, enjoying a range of sports – including his status as a world champion tennis player – while balancing a successful career in finance.

For Naqi, the power of running is in the benefits it brings to his physical fitness as well as the chance to meet others in the running community.

“I love both the physical and social benefits of running – and it helps me mentally and emotionally,” he says. “That feeling of being outdoors and enjoying nature and just feeling more free is great. It’s also helped me to be a better athlete overall.”

Supporting a cause

Becky Gilbert co-founded Bristol-based charity, Baby Bank Network, nine years ago to provide pre-loved baby essentials for families experiencing poverty or crisis. Today, Becky is the charity’s CEO and will be joining a team of runners taking part in the 10k to raise funds for a cause that has supported almost 10,000 families in and around the city.

As well as an opportunity to raise funds for her charity, for Becky the power of running is the impact it’s had on her fitness.

“I really feel the benefits of running in my body, I feel much stronger and energised! It’s no longer a struggle to walk up steep paths! And there’s something about the headspace you get when running. It’s quite meditative.”

The AJ Bell Great Bristol Run is once again partnering with Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal for this year’s Family Run, which will see budding runners aged three years-old and above take on a one-mile course.

Ruth Smith and her 10-year-old grandson, Oscar, who will be running in memory of Oscar’s brother Ethan, who was treated at the hospital before he passed away at just 11 weeks old in December last year.

“The support we got from Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal was just unbelievable,” says Ruth. “Everyone was amazing. We never felt alone on the journey and they were all so wonderful with Oscar.”

A company team

Marketing Executive Sam Harrison is among a group of colleagues at Business West taking part in this year’s AJ Bell Great Bristol Run.

Sam first took up running during the pandemic and will take part in the half marathon.

“As a new father who had suddenly lost access to the gym, I was feeling a bit lost and, where my health had been a priority, now it was the health of my new family.

“Once restrictions relaxed to allow us to get out a bit more, I took up running. Speed was never a huge goal for me, I was always excited about just how far my legs can take me.

“Running has given me so much, the sense of achievement from pushing myself over the long distances, a new group of friends at my local parkrun and the ability to chase my son around for as long as he wants. In fact, he often gets tired before I do!”

Missed out on this year’s AJ Bell Great Bristol Run?

Be the first to hear about when entries open for the 2025 AJ Bell Great Bristol Run by registering your interest here.