Young Deaf Runner from Thirsk Taking on AJ Bell Great North Run

The 2023 AJ Bell Great North Run on Sunday 10 September will have the privilege of hosting Sir Mo Farah’s final competitive race. While his professional career has enthralled and inspired millions around the world, his personal story also demonstrates the power of running to change lives.

Like 23-year-old Beth Haggath, from Thirsk. Beth’s running journey began in school, where she showed a natural talent. However, after leaving school, she took a five-year break from the sport. It wasn’t until she joined Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers in April 2021 that she rekindled her love for running and found a community that supported and understood her unique challenges.

Beth reflects, “I started running in school but I didn’t really keep it up and hadn’t been running regularly until I joined my local running club in 2021. They helped me relearn all the basics I had forgotten about, and still to this day I am still learning how to pace myself in certain races.”

Being deaf, Beth faced obstacles that went beyond the physical demands of running. Yet, her determination and innovative solutions, such as wearing a high-visibility vest marked with “hearing impaired,” allowed her to break down barriers and foster understanding within the running community.

“The impact of running for me shows that despite being deaf, I can still do things that I put my mind to, and I can strive and get what I want to achieve,” says Beth. “The high vis has had a big impact now runners behind me know I’m not ignoring them I just can’t hear they are behind me so we found a new way of alerting me without startling me.

“They put their hand out to tell me I am doing great and to keep going or indicate that they need to overtake me. People around me are a lot more understanding. It’s a lot more chill now.”

Her story has also contributed to changing how others perceive and interact with individuals who are hearing impaired. She also hopes to encouragement to others deaf people to enjoy sport.

“My hearing isn’t where it was 2 years ago, but I want to show younger children and adults that we can still take the world by storm and still get the achievements.

“I want to be the person they see taking the world on and taking it day by day.”

Beth will be taking part in the 42nd Great North Run on Sunday 10 September alongside 60,000 other runners, making it the biggest half marathon in the world. The iconic course starts in Newcastle city centre and finishes 13.1 miles later in the coastal town of South Shields. Many runners will be taking part to support worthy causes, raising an estimated £25 million pounds for charity.

The event will be shown Live on BBC One from 10am until 2pm.

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