Rays first year at RCR!

Rushmere Community Runners’ member Ray Challoner has had an amazing year. Having only started running last spring, he has just completed his first marathon!

Ray started running as, at 22 stone, he wanted to lose some weight and get, fit, taking part in his first Park Run at Kesgrave in April 18.

“After managing to get around Park Run on my own for four weeks, I was attracted to the purple club runners.” Says Ray. “They all seemed to be having such a great time, and were visibly encouraging one another.

“That was the beginning of my Rushmere Community Runners journey. And with the friendship, support and encouragement that the group offers has seen me go from 37:48 on my Park Run to a 5km time of 25:40. And I have also increased my distance to a full marathon less than a year after I started running!”

Taking part in his first official race, Twilight 10km in August Ray managed to finish in just over an hour (1:06:26) a very respectable time for somebody still relatively new to running.

But a much bigger challenge was on the horizon for Ray. “I decided I wanted to run a marathon as I’d had an amazing year developing my running.

“After running the Great East Run Half Marathon in September, I felt with the right preparation, that I did have the ability to be able complete 26.2 miles.

“I chose Brighton because it was exactly 51 weeks after I had started running. To complete a marathon within my first year of running was the huge target that I set myself; and I’d only have the one chance, at Brighton, to do it!”

Ray started training, running three times a week, occasionally four. On Tuesdays and Thursdays he ran with RCR and continued to take part in the Saturday morning Park Runs. Sundays were reserved for Ray’s longer training runs where he gradually increased his millage to 22 miles in preparation for race day and his Marathon distance.

On the morning of Brighton Marathon day Ray felt excited and prepared although he did feel a little trepidation, after all a marathon is a long way.

Ray’s marathon didn’t quite go to plan. As with most new runners he started too quickly and his first 13 miles were almost as fast as his half marathon personal best time, he knew he had to be sensible and slow down a little if he was to make it to the finish line. The last six miles were tough, with a strong head wind, but Ray ploughed on, the end was in sight. Ray completed his first marathon, 51 weeks after starting his running journey in a time of five hours twenty minutes, an amazing achievement.

“Looking back, I enjoyed the challenge.” Continued Ray, “The crowds were amazing and the whole event had a fantastic atmosphere. Although, next time I run a marathon I will make sure I pace myself better.”

So, what’s next for Ray?

“Well, I’ve already booked the Orwell Challenge Marathon for June, a mountain half with two ascents of the 3000ft / 900+ metre Pen-y-Fan in Wales in July, plus the Great South Run in Portsmouth for this year; and the Manchester Marathon next April.

I’m also looking at a 50k Ultra in July along the Angles Way, and a 100k Ultra on the South Coast on the 1st August, and then maybe the Valencia Marathon in December.”

Ray is a firm believer that if he can run anybody can and he urges those thinking about taking up running to just go for it. “Listen to people around you, be encouraged as you can do it.” Concluded Ray, “I was 22 stone I’m just over 16 now. Running has helped me, not only to lose weight and increase my fitness, I have also found a love for running and I have met some amazing people and made some great friends along the way too.

“If you are thinking of trying the sport get involved with a good club like Rushmere Community Runners, where you will find running buddies who will challenge you, and support you, and be there for you cheering as you cross that finish line!”