Here’s a little introduction to my background of myself (BOMBER)
I was born and raised in Shelthorpe which is situated in the university town of Loughborough, Leicestershire. I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers and the old man buggered off when I was very young, for which I would like to thank him because it made me the man and father I am today.
As kid’s we didn’t have much, but back then we didn’t need much to keep us entertained, just give us a ball and some grass and we’d be gone for hours, a bit like my running today but without the ball!
Through out my teenage years I was very active, playing football for Saturday and Sunday teams as well as training in the week. Football was the only type of exercise I did back then and I had never even thought about running as a pastime.
As I got older, the football got overtaken by pubs, clubs and women. I started to gain weight rapidly through my 20’s and into my 30’s. I finished playing football locally in my early 30’s and that’s when I was at my fattest! Not a happy time in my life at all.
How I came across running
It was January 2012 when a few of us fatties at work decided to hold a weight loss competition over the next few months. Planning my victory in this I decided to get my arse into gear once again and start getting out in the fresh air once again. My starting weight was 17 stone 11 pounds which was a real shock to me.
I went out and bought the basics for running: top, shorts, socks and trainers and planned my first run which would take me from Sileby (which is where I lived), out towards Ratcliffe, down Humble Lane into Cossington then back into Sileby, a route that measured 4 miles and not a flat ones either. Ambitious for a beginner, but hey ho as I’ve found out whilst running I am a little bit mental… this route took just over an hour to complete, my lack of fitness, like my weight was a huge surprise to myself.
Over the next couple of months, I was running more and more and felt the benefit of changing everything my lifestyle. Gone were the foods of previous years, like fish and chips, kebabs and take aways (the usual fat suspects) all of which I found quite easy to give up, except for biscuits which to this day is still my biggest food flaw but I guess I run enough mileage these days to enjoy the odd pack or two.
As summer approached, I was still feeling good but finding it harder to drag myself out on a run. So using the power of social media, I sought after some running buddies, people like myself that ran by themselves for whatever reason, whether that be a time issue or like me low on confidence to go join the nearest running club.
I got quite a response from my first post on facebook/twitter so we arranged a time and meeting place that suited all of us. I think we had eight or nine turn up for the first run.
Sileby Running Club was born
Our little group of runners was gradually growing and there were more and more people showing an interest in joining us so I decided we needed a name. So Sileby Running Club (SRC) was born. It went crazy from the start really. I was receiving messages every day from people asking about our new club, something that the village needed really (which is not to say that there were a lot of unfit people in Sileby), but other than the local football teams and the rugby club there wasn’t a lot else happening.
My first official race was the Prestwold 10k held by Barrow Runners. I have no ideas how long it took me, but the buzz of being on the start line is something I still get at races and hopefully will for as long as I’m racing. I also remember seeing all the clubs different tops and thinking to myself we need some kit. So after looking for some sponsors, it was a local triathlete Steve Hillyer of Hillyer transport and Enduro Charity who stepped up and made it possible for Sileby Running Club to stand out amongst all the other clubs out there, with what I think is still and will be the best running vest out there.
We had more and more people joining us now and soon we had people racing at most local races and local ParkRun’s too. You would always hear people saying “wow that’s a great kit you have” and that it was about time Sileby had a running club which made me a very proud man. I myself was now entering a lot of races and with each one I was pushing myself to limits I never knew I could go to, The lighter I got, the faster I got and by this point I was looking a longer races like half marathons and even full marathons. My first full marathon was the Leicester marathon. Leading up to this I had been suffering with a sciatic nerve problem which I just couldn’t shake off, looking back I was stupid to run it but I did anyway and came home in 4 hours and 11 minutes and a lot of pain.
The next phase of my running story started on a training night run, out on the run with Racetime Event boss Johnny Nicol. He started talking about a 24 hour event he was looking at doing at Belvoir castle, where you can enter as a team or go crazy and enter as a soloist! So the Equinox24 became my focus for training and I was surprised at the kind of mileage I was able to do without any after- effects, especially as my first run was 4 miles and I couldn’t walk for a week after that.
My first Equinox24 was a weekend that’ll stay with me for the rest of my life as I met some amazing people who I learnt so much from and will stay in contact with them till I pass. I managed to run 130k, way off the leaders but at this point in my running life I hadn’t developed that winning desire. For me it was all about the personal challenge it provided.
Over the next few winter months, I was racing again locally in the shorter 10k stuff but knew deep down long distance was where I wanted to be. So with my good friend Simon we started doing long distance runs early every Sunday morning (like going to church). These were all “off road” runs and we loved getting shit up with mud and manure (it takes you back to being a kid but without getting told off by your mum)
Whilst out running over the great Leicestershire countryside, we got talking about the races that we would be entering over the next few months and runs that we could do as our training. I had a chat with my sister Sarah, who was working at a place called The Falcon Centre in Loughborough which is a charity helping homeless people in the area. I had never heard of this place and felt very ignorant because it was on my door step and it got me thinking! How could I help raise funds for The Falcon Centre and hopefully rid myself of the ignorance? LONG DISTANCE RUN of course, it was obvious really, do something I enjoy and raise funds for Charity. So I pitched the idea to Simon and he agreed we should run from Hunstanton to Loughborough, finishing at the Falcon Centre itself.
We called it #Challenge92 as on google maps said it was shown to be 92 miles (it lied as it ended up being 96). We set off early morning on July 26th 2014 with our very supportive wives and kids who were promised a day out at the seaside. We got to our point of departure and checked all our kit etc but we hadn’t planned on it being the hottest day of the fricking year! We set off around midday, our plan being to stop every 10 miles to drink and eat, but the first part of journey was horrendous due to the miles and miles of traffic with heat bouncing off windscreens it was a big challenge, but we struggled on for what seemed an eternity to our first stop point. Then we realised just how tough it was going to be. We ended up popping in every shop we came across to top up our water and food supplies as we were getting through them faster than we were the miles. Night time came and the heat subsided, midnight arrived and we were now just over halfway on our journey and it was also my birthday! Most people like to relax on their birthdays but not me…. We cracked on nailing the miles as we went, we had taken photos of most of the places we had been through but completely through tiredness missed the sign for Loughborough, and as we ran around the final corner towards The Falcon Centre there was a nice sized crowd waiting for us. The feeling of finishing a run and knowing you had done it for charity was and still is the biggest buzz I can get from running (maybe just saying that because I haven’t won a race).
The after effect of #Challenge92 was awesome and will be one of my best lifetime achievements. I immediately got thinking about how we could top it and get more people involved which would in turn raise more money and awareness for The Falcon Centre.
By this time my running was taking up a lot of time and I found it a massive struggle coping with my own training and managing the running club, We’d moved house from sileby to Loughborough so i took the decision to pass Sileby Running Club on to some of our established members. The club is getting stronger and stronger with each passing day, so if you live in the village get yourself down!
Loughborough’s local hills become both Simon and my playground. My running was possibly at its best as I was getting some great results at races, and again I was pushing myself to limits I didn’t know was possible. The second Equinox24 was coming around and this time there was a real buzz about as there were double the competitors of the first year and Sileby had also entered a team into it. I was very proud to be racing alongside the club I had started. My aim for this Equinox24 was to go further than the previous year and beat my PB distance of 96miles. Everything went perfectly and I ended up doing 170k (105 miles roughly)
After the Equinox24 I started experiencing something I hadn’t done since the early days of my running life which was I was now finding it really hard to drag myself out. Fortunately Lee Dawson contacted me about a local running club he was starting. Immediately he had my attention so I joined him on one of his runs and straight away realized the potential of his idea. So it has turned out, with the Poplar Running Club becoming one if not the biggest club in the area. My running got back on track with the regular runs that the club were putting on and through the winter my attention returned to what we could do as a charity run for The Falcon Centre.
Alongside getting married to a beautiful woman and having 2 wonderful children, #Beacon24 is one of the best things I have done with my life. I borrowed the idea from the Equinox24 of a 10k loop for 24 hours around the scenic location of Beacon Hill in Leicestershire. The idea was that by keeping it local, we would get more people involved with it in turn we could raise more funds and awareness for The Falcon Centre. As the promotion of my event took hold I realised it was hard to persuade people to run for 24 hours, but we got a team of 4 doing it with lots of others coming along to run and support us at different points over the 24 hours. The whole organisation of it took up a lot of my time but I witnessed peoples generosity first hand. Lots of local companies supplied us with raffle prizes, food and drink for the runners.
The night before the event we went up to Beacon Hill to mark out the route out with the help of Daniel Ryan and Zoe Barker, both of whom ran a few miles with us as well.
July 18th 2015 was a day! Everything was setup and we had a good crowd turn up. There was no issues in the build up, which meant I could focus on my run. At midday eleven of us set off, 3 members of The Falcon Centre staff (one being my sister Sarah who’s birthday it was) 2 members of Poplar Running Club, Danny Corbinzolu (who was doing a double marathon in aid of the Michael Smith Trust who’s a friend of everyone’s that has become ill), also Adrian a volunteer from the centre who set himself a target of cycling for 12 hours! There were four of us who were doing the full 24, Bomber (me)90 miles, Simon Alexander Hardy 82 miles, George Marchant 76 miles and Gemma Bettoney Bramhall 70 miles. It was great work by everyone and over the course of the weekend we had both Poplar Runners and Sileby Runners turn up, which for me was another highlight. The weather was good and the whole run went without a hitch, apart from some sore legs. We raised a good amount of money, and again awareness of The Falcon Centre.
The build up for #BEACON24 2016 has begun and looks like being a big event.
Subsequently my attention turned back to racing and with the winter league done and dusted by The Poplar Runners, it was on to the next Equinox24 where I had convinced myself I should be challenging for the title. There was now a small group of us that had signed up to go solo so we had a good little training group going. It was all going well and I felt very confident about this year’s event.
The sun was shining and I was at my favourite race. Sileby had 2 teams and 2 soloist and Poplar had 4 soloists competing so lots of people to bounce off and push each other.The first lap went well, even passing Andy Grant on “That Hill”… (sorry Andy), then on lap 4 I needed the loo. It was with dismay I saw my urine had blood in it! Kidney problems ended my race but not my event as I took the tough decision to stop racing and just enjoy it and help others. I still went on to complete 100k, but felt like a big failure as I had heaped pressure on myself. I have put my kidney issues down to over doing it, and have now learnt to control what I do, this is proof that your always learning.
As I come to the end of this, I have just started racing in the cross country league with the ever growing Poplar Running Club. I will let you know how we get on in volume 2 of Running in Bombers World.
Overall, touch wood (touches head obviously) everything is going well and even though I’m knocking on a bit, fingers crossed things will continue in the same manner as the last 4 years.
THANK YOU FOR READING , RACE ON!