Group Leaders

John Farthing

John never was a sporty child, (just ask his parents). He starting running in late 2016, after endless miles cycling had helped him increase his fitness, and lose nearly three stone in weight. But, the cold and wet, together with endless potholes had taken their toll on him and his bike, but he hated running.

So, September 2016 saw John’s Park Run debut and with a time of 26:24, a lightbulb moment occurred. Maybe this running thing wasn’t too bad, and maybe he wasn’t too bad at it either?

More Park Runs, SweatShop appearances and solo running started to appear on Strava, overtaking the cycle rides. Colchester Half Marathon 2017 was entered soon after, and following a significant quantity of red wine, and before the New Year chimes closed 2016, so was the Amsterdam Marathon 2017 ! A mere pipe dream, but now an achievable goal to aim for!

And, since that fledgling Park Run at Kesgrave, it’s all spiralled slightly and the inevitable ‘Fear of Missing Out’ has taken hold. John now has three road marathons, two trail marathons and an Ultra to his name, as well as plenty of other events. John has taken an active role in helping Rushmere Community Runners grow, with taking his Leader in Running Fitness qualification, helping with the successful Couch to 5k courses and eventually agreeing to take on the role of Committee Chair.
So, onwards to 2019, an aim of time and distance PB’s and continued success for the Purple Army!

Keith Anderson

Keith is a keen amateur runner and has been a regular at Rushmere Community Runners since April 2018. Having had a bit of a hiatus after university where he played rugby, cricket, squash and badminton as well as running, Keith returned to regular running a few years ago as a way of regaining and retaining fitness to be as active as he could be with his three children, as well as to show them that exercise is a normal thing for us all to do.

Initially a solo runner Keith, trained over distances of around 5 to10km and was a bit of a latecomer to the running phenomenon that is parkrun. He now takes part as often as he can chiefly at either Ipswich or Kesgrave parkruns, but he also visits others further afield when travelling. Keith has steadily increased the distance that he runs and has taken part in many races over the past few years up to half marathon distance at Rendlesham Forest and in the Great East Run. There are plans afoot for longer runs in the coming years with an ultra (50km) and a 24-hour endurance team event already on the cards.

Running for Keith is more than just a means of keeping fit, it is more a whole body and mind exercise, whether running solo, with a partner or in a larger group. The trails of Suffolk are a particularly good place to benefit from the mental wellbeing that running in green spaces affords. The strong community feel of RCR is a huge support in the everyday hurly burly and offers a welcome escape from the stresses of daily life. Keith has chosen to be a Run Leader, and has completed the England Athletics Leader in Running and Fitness course, so that RCR can continue to thrive and grow as a strong running community, with the wellbeing of its members as its core belief, espousing its strong sense of belonging and camaraderie. Fortunate to have benefitted both physically and mentally from his own membership. Keith is keen to contribute to the continued success of RCR.

Wendy Cook

Wendy started her running journey in January 2018 by joining the Rushmere Community Runners’ first Couch 2 5K course, and although she found those initial first few weeks very tough, she stuck with it and, as a result, completely fell in love with running!
Asthmatic, and by her own admission, carrying a little extra weight, Wendy is proof that, whatever your age, ability or fitness levels, that anybody can run and get the same enjoyment and health benefits from running that she does.

To date Wendy has taken part in several events, including: Alton Water 5K, The Summer Series in Christchurch Park, Twilight 10K, and she even completed the Great East Run – going from couch to half marathon in just nine months! Wendy is now planning a number of events for 2019, including her second half marathon, maybe even a third…

Wendy says that the help and support that she’s had from fellow RCR members and run leaders have really helped her to achieve what she always thought was out of reach for her, so much so that she’s really got the running bug and can often be found persuading others to join her, and just get out there and run!
Becoming a run leader has meant that she is able to give back the Running Community that she loves. Wendy believes that running should be fun and inclusive to all, and that all runners should be encouraged whatever their fitness level or ability.

Wendy has completed the England Athletics Leader in Running and Fitness qualification.

CLare Norton

Clare’s running journey started Four years ago with friends taking part in a 10 week beginners course. Before this She couldn’t run for longer than 10 seconds and was very unfit. Before she knew it Clare had completed the course running 30 minutes non-stop and was the only person out of her friends to actually complete the course!

Clare continued her running journey on and off for three years not really doing much until she found Rushmere Community Runners and made new friends, who she now considers friends for life.

For the past year Clare has really got the running bug’ and started entering races, completing her first half marathon this year. She has now entered two more half marathons along with other road races for 2019.

Clare has amazed herself and hopes this inspires anyone reading to join Rushmere Community Runners and begin their own journey, she has also completed the England Athletics Leader in Running Fitness qualification.

Dave Alley

Dave runs because He loves running!  He has always run, but at first this was to help with his fitness for other sports.  He started to focus more on his running when a work colleague invited him to go along to a session with the Woodbridge Shufflers Running Club.  Everyone was helpful and supportive (just like Rushmere Community Runners), and gave him a huge amount of encouragement and advice to take on new challenges. Dave hasn’t looked back since. He now runs everything from 5k Parkruns to 100k Ultra marathons – sometimes even winning his age category! But his favourite runs are out on the Suffolk trails with friends, just taking it easy, putting the world to rights. Like a walk in the countryside – but a little bit faster.

Dave loves to lead and coach running, and love, to help others reach their running goals, whether it’s their first 5k or achieving their fastest ever Marathon.

Dave strongly believes that we are built to run, and that running is for everyone.  Dave says “I know that many people were put off running at school, when they were forced to compete in the school cross-country in arctic conditions, in just a vest and shorts borrowed from the lost property bin because they ‘forgot’ their PE kit.  But running can be brilliant fun. Running doesn’t have to be competitive. And running is a great way to meet people, to get fit, and to de-stress.  And most of all you will be out with a group of friendly, supportive, like-minded people who will help you achieve things you never believed possible.  Come and join us for a run – you know you want to!”

Dave is a qualified run leader and coach, and holds the England Athletics LiRF and CiRF qualifications.

Helen Skinner

Helen has been running with Rushmere Community Runners since the very first session.  Helen has been running regularly for the last four years but she also enjoys cycling, paddle boarding and surfing when opportunity allows.  Helen can often be found at weekends running local races or enjoying a longer social run.
To date she has competed in various local running events including several half marathons, local Friday five races, trail running events and 5Km and 10Km races.  Her plans for 2019 include running her first marathon and ultra marathon and is known for both persuading others and being easily persuaded herself in pursuit of new running challenges and adventures.
Taking part in both coached sessions and structured runs with Rushmere Community Runners has really helped progress both speed and distance running for Helen and she is keen to help support other runners with the same opportunities.  Helen has completed the England Athletics Leader in Running and Fitness course and has worked in Ipswich as a Chartered Physiotherapist since qualifying in 1996.
The social side of running in a group is especially important to Helen, she has made many friends through running and hopes to encourage others to see the many benefits of running in terms of accessibility, fitness, wellbeing and most importantly having fun.

Sarah Hodge

Sarah is a mum of two, who works as a Librarian in a Primary School, and she can honestly say that she would never have expected to find out she likes running!

A few years ago Sarah had a significant birthday coming up that made her decide to get off the sofa and get active. A life-long avoider of exercise after leaving school (except for dancing, there’s always time for dancing) she had friends that were runners and saw a post about a beginners group that was due to start in the January.
Armed with a pair of basic trainers and joggers Sarah discovered that walk five minutes, then run one minute was really hard, and she had no idea how she was ever going to be able to run for 30 minutes! Fast forward 18 months and Sarah joined Rushmere Community Runners, which is where her running journey really began. Over the past year Sarah has taken part in various runs ranging from 10Ks and Muddy Runs to Half-Marathons and, she is slowly working her way up to a Marathon. Sarah also earned her Park Run 50 t-shirt in the Summer!

What really inspires Sarah to run is the support and friendships she has gained from her fellow runners, why else would she be up at 6am on a frosty Sunday morning?

Stuart Weaver

Stuart started running ‘properly’ about five years ago.  He’d been through a bit of a rough time mentally and running really helped him get through this period.  Stuart was unhealthy and overweight too and unsurprisingly he lost weight and felt loads better! His has gone from running for general fitness, to progressing to racing at lots of different distances and now onto wanting to help others. Stuart can often be seen out and about running with his dog, Ebony.

“What’s great about running – Anyone can do it! I mean that.” Says Stuart, “I get as much satisfaction from helping people have the confidence to run for the first time, helping someone at Parkrun or at RCR as I do when I run ‘hard’ sessions with some close friends when training for races. It matters not how old you are, how much you weigh or how fast you are – we all have the same thing in common, we lace up and run – simple as that.”

Stuart received (and still does) lots of help throughout his running journey and as he’s said, he likes to help others. Stuart can offer structured sessions, general advice and/or some company on a run.  He don’t profess to know everything either!

Michael Sheldrake

Michael gave up smoking in 2011 to train for his first marathon, which was London in 2012. He was supporting his father and sister in law, who had both got places. Michael soon got hooked on running, enjoying the challenges it brought! He liked feeling fitter and healthier and enjoyed meeting people. It soon took over his social life, luckily his wife was happy to see him run even though she wasn’t keen to run herself.
Michael started going regularly to park runs, and joined his first running club. He entered lots of 10k and half marathons, and saw his times improving. Michael had a lot of encouragement from his family, and found he really enjoyed helping others to get running too.
Michael wanted others to enjoy running like he did, so he’d go out with them, even if they were slower than him! Michael loved the kick he got from seeing others improve.
He then went on to do another four marathons including Edinburgh and Brighton, however he has realised that he gets the most enjoyment out of helping others. Michael has completed the England Athletics Leadership in Running Fitness course, so he is qualified and more than happy to help any one, of any ability to improve.
Michael always wants to get involved and enjoys being part of a happy group, although he is competitive, it’s not the most important part of running for him, preferring the enjoyment of the social and healthy lifestyle is what he gets the most pleasure from, and this is what he would like to share by leading and helping others.

Lee Cornwell

Lee loved sport from school, football was the passion. He played for his primary school, high school, youth club and five-a-side teams. But, with two injuries to his right knee and football was over…
Five years past and the weight was showing and Lee was now weighing over 13 stone, something had to change, but what?
Then Allie, his wife, was asked if she wanted to start running with a course for beginners, but Lee didn’t know his wife had said that he was going too! “Can’t be that hard” Lee thought, boy he was wrong!
So on 11th January 2016 Lee started as a beginner at Ipswich Jaffa RC. After 12 weeks of hard work he could now run 30 minutes without stopping and Lee started to like the running feeling. Next stop was the Improvers group and now running for 50 minutes without stopping Lee was hooked. But, tough times lay ahead.
June 3rd 2016, Kirton Friday 5-mile series, Race 1 saw Lee run his first race and the feeling was amazing, he wanted more. Races came thick and fast and small improvements starts to show, and on February 5th 2017 Lee ran his first half marathon in Ipswich in 2:05:34.
Lee had his sights set on more but March dealt a massive blow when the sudden loss of a very close friend saw him struggle and stop running. A close friend that, Lee had talked about running London Marathon with. So, Lee knew what he had to do for his friend. With no place in London he got a place in Kent marathon. So on the 27th May 2017 he set out on a 26.2-mile journey with his friend in his head and heart.
The running mojo was back bigger and better. Lee was back and wanting more, three Marathons, four Half Marathons, along with all the shorter distances and recently back from running the Valencia Marathon his running now is a major part in his life. And, with the support of his amazing wife and family, Lee is now an RCR ON Ambassador and a qualification in Leadership in Running Fitness to top 2018. Lee’s first three years of running has eclipsed anything he could have ever imagined. But without his wife, family, friends and amazing running community where would Lee be?