Q & A with Rushmere Community Runners Chairman John Farthing.

How long have you been running and why do you run?

I’ve been running since September 2016. I was a regular distance cyclist before that, and pretty inactive before that! I started running as I got frustrated with cycling for lots of reasons. It started with a Park Run, and has grown from there. I think I run, not only for the sense of achievement, but it’s opened up new friendships and new opportunities.

Your Chairman at RCR, what does that mean to you?

I’d like to think that I’m helping the group to grow and make it accessible to all abilities. We have such a range of members at RCR now, all with different reasons for running with us and, to see them on their journey is really inspiring. Our runners have come together, many as individuals and have become part of a fantastic community.

You’re also a Run Leader, tell us about that?

As a group, we started to look at making sure we had enough people qualified to take the sessions, because we were increasing in numbers and wanted a safe environment to exist, both for the technical evenings on a Tuesday and our social group runs on Thursday evenings. I agreed to take the Leader in Running Fitness course to help me to help others. England Athletics teach you not only about the basics of running, but how important recovery is as well. The course covers making sessions fun, so again, like I said before, RCR becomes accessible to all.

What has been your favourite race/event and why?

Hmmm, a tough one! Can I have two? I’d say it’s a tie between my first road marathon in Amsterdam in 2017 and my first Ultra marathon, the SVP50 in 2018. It was such an amazing experience in Amsterdam. Thousands of runners and spectators, starting and finishing in the Olympic Stadium, the buzz of major elite runners and live TV coverage. My biggest event before that was Great East Run, so it was quite a step up, despite it being my home event!
And, as for the SVP50. I learnt so much about how a running an Ultra (50km or 32 miles in this case) differs from a road marathon. The terrain, how you pace yourself, the fuelling during the race and the mental toughness to keep going. My wife met me at every checkpoint, and my parents were there for the last one and the finish. A truly emotional day.


Has there been a race that’s not gone to plan? What happened and what did you learn from it and what advice would you give?

The SVP50. As I said, I treated it like a road marathon, which was the wrong thing to do. It starts fairly flat, so I went off too fast, tried to keep with the other runners and paid for it in the end when I came to the latter stages, which the terrain changed and there were more inclines. I was emotionally broken towards the end. You are on your own in an unknown field with just cows and your own thoughts for company, and you just have to push through.
I would say you should speak to people that have run the event before, take their advice. Don’t under estimate the challenge you’ve set yourself. Only 1% of the population complete a marathon, you are one of a select few. You will have ‘off days’ and sometimes that day is when you wanted to ‘smash it’ Oh, and don’t try and keep up with someone that’s completed Marathon Des Sables and wonder why you are struggling to keep pace. Worry about yourself and not the runner in front!

What’s your favourite piece of kit and why?

I haven’t really got one. I try to not rely on one piece of kit, in case it get’s forgotten or it comes to the end of it’s life. A bit superstitious I suppose ?

What are you up to in 2019, what races have you got booked/planning to do?

This year was really supposed to be ‘Quality over Quantity’. Entering less events, mixing up my training with more conditioning and swimming, but really pushing myself to achieve. So far, I’ve missed out on qualifying for an Elite place at the Twilight 5k by one second and missed my half marathon PB by 11 second! So far 2019 is not going according to plan!

I have the Tarpley 20, Colchester Half, Manchester Marathon, Orwell Challenge Marathon and the SVP 100 Ultra booked, with the potential of another European road marathon in the Autumn/Winter. I’m also going to attempt my first Sprint Triathlon and get a few distance cycle rides under my belt as well.

What advice would you give somebody starting out on their running journey?

Join Rushmere Community Runners! No, seriously, running can be a lonely pastime, but it is also a very social one as well. Look to get involved with a local group or take on a Park Run. You don’t need all the expensive kit or memberships to start with, and you will find lots of like-minded people to support you, regardless of your ability.

Pictures by inspire races