Three years ago I wasn’t a runner. I’d often thought about it but never had the nerve or self belief to try it and, back in January 2015, I was still some four months away from lacing up my trainers and giving it a go for the first time.
Yet, today, I found myself in the queue at the NEC in Birmingham to get into the first ever National Running Show. And not only was I in the long, long line of people patiently awaiting admission but I was honoured to be selected as an ambassador for the event! That just goes to show the impact the sport has had on my life.
But enough about me, what about the show?
I don’t think there are enough superlatives to do justice to the event, and how much I enjoyed myself, so I’ll just let you think of some on your own!
I attended the show with my friend Dawn, and after gaining admission, we quickly found the registration stand so that I could collect my special ambassador goody bag and whilst it’s not quite up to Oscars level just yet it certainly was the best goody bag I’ve ever received at a show, actually containing items that are useful.
Whilst there I bumped into Edward Chapman, one of my team members from the Shine Cancer Walk in September. It was nice to see him again and to catch up briefly. Why not give his own blog, Trail Running Man, a read?
After that, it was time to catch the opening presentation by none other than Dame Kelly Holmes. Normally I am quite sceptical of these elite athletes claiming they have the same struggles and insecurities as the rest of us mere mortals but, in this case, I really did relate to what she was saying. She delivered her talk with humility, humour, a little self deprecation and seemed like an all round decent spud, even dealing with a short technical mishap almost as if it was all part of the plan.
It was emotional, it was inspirational and left me determined to work extra hard to find my gold.
As you might note from previous entries, I’m currently in the midst of a six-week bootcamp-type programme, Saints & Slimmers, and was challenged by my fellow team members to get my group t-shirt pictured with as many legends of the running world as I possibly could.
So when Dame Kelly announced she’d be happy to pose for selfies with the audience I didn’t need to be asked twice. I felt a bit sorry for her as the hordes descended upon her but she handled it with composure and posed for as many pictures as time allowed … including me! After a brief explanation of why I was thrusting a t-shirt in her general direction she said, “Well, we better help you with your challenge then”.
On a high from that, I then spotted Jo Pavey MBE – World, European and Commonwealth medallist – nearby and seized the chance for my second picture of the day. Again, she was lovely and happy to accommodate my request.
By this stage I was buzzing. Dawn (now that she was relieved from photographer duties for a while!) and I went for a proper look around the many stands at the show. There was everything a runner could possibly need, no stone was left unturned and it was great chatting with many of the vendors to find out more about their products. I resisted the temptation to buy anything (mostly). Today was a browsing day, but Sunday could be very different. I apologise to my wallet in advance.
I did buy one thing – a 2017 500-mile Virtual Runner medal.
I was so, so close to reaching 1000km for the year but was thwarted by the heavy snow and sheet ice at home during December and was tempted to buy the 1000km medal anyway, but after chatting with Susan at the VR stand she persuaded me to go for the 500-mile medal instead.
It was the better bling of the two options, complete with spinning bits to amuse an easily distracted mind like mine (!) and was a little reward to myself for my efforts last year.
My celeb spotting wasn’t done for the day. Prior to visiting the VR stand I saw Ben Smith at the Truestart Coffee stand. Ben is the absolute legend that recently completed 401 marathons in 401 days raising £250,000 to help combat bullying in schools and society in general.
I bought into his journey and the cause having not had the happiest time during my own school days way back in the 80s and completed the virtual marathon that the 401 Challenge had organised in 2016. I also intend to sign up for the 2018 events in the summer.
Ben was absolute gent. Not only was he happy to pose for a pic, but he chatted for a while too. I was also really pleased for Dawn. Ben is from Bristol, Dawn from Wiltshire so they chatted a little bit about the area.
Whilst there Ben roped in Paul Hobrough for a picture as well. Ben described him as the ‘physio to the stars’ and was one of the experts giving one-to-one sessions over at the registration stand. Thanks, Paul, for the pic.
As I said, today was all about browsing and seeing what was on offer at the show. Sunday will be the day for doing ‘stuff’. I’ve got my eye on the Saucony treadmill challenge, plus a couple of free exercise sessions at the run clinic in the middle of the hall. I also intend to take in at least a couple of the talks and maybe booking a chat with an expert or two.
A hugely successful day and a highly enjoyable show. Bring on day two!