Jo Stanford rediscovered her love of running outdoors at Havant parkrun having spent 20 years exercising indoors at the gym.
As a teenager I ran for Portsmouth & Fareham run club where my favourite events were 800m, 1500m and cross country. I stopped running when I got a job which required me to work on Saturdays, meaning I could no longer compete.
I continued to be interested in fitness and was a regular gym goer for the next 20 years but I didn’t run again until a friend recommended parkrun in 2015.
My first parkrun event was Havant. I was nervous about going and went along with my sister and a friend. As soon as I started running it took me back to my cross country races! It was a similar distance and there was lots of mud! I loved it!
I started to parkrun every week, usually alone. I’d get up, put my kit on and walk the mile to Staunton Country Park. I just did it every week whatever the weather and tried to beat my time from the previous week. I started getting faster!
I remember on one of my earlier parkruns realising that I was 4th lady with 2km to go! I had the leading ladies in my sights! This reignited my love of racing. I went on to be 1st lady home (although I always say that the real fast ladies must have been having an off day that day!)
I met my running partner Sid whilst walking to and from parkrun. We’ve since run multiple events together. I have completed 6 x half marathons, 2 x 10 mile runs and some 10Ks too.
I also met my great friend Julie at parkrun. She invited me to a speed session in the local park with a group of veterans who have been training there for over 40 years! They are the most inspirational people. I trained with them, before Covid and I learned so much from their experience. It was whilst with them that I decided I would give cross country a try for the first time in over 20 years. So I joined a club (Havant AC) and I raced in the Hampshire League cross country 2019/2020 season. There were 5 races and I gave it everything I had! I came 9th overall in the veteran women’s race (V40). That is my biggest running achievement so far!
The encouragement from fellow parkrunners is responsible for helping me believe that I could take running more seriously again after the age of 40 yrs and having had two kids. The parkrun community gave me the confidence to do it!.That’s why I preach about parkrun whenever I get the chance.
I cannot wait for parkrun to return. When it does, I will be there to continue my journey to 250!
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