We first crossed paths with Hannah in our early running days as members of The Stragglers Running Club in West London. Hannah subsequently moved out of London and we moved clubs. We met again on a Comrades Marathon Forum in the year that Hannah decided to run and recognised each other’s names. Since then, as happens in the running world, we have found ourselves at a number of the same events and keep in contact on social media.
Hannah is currently working as CEO of The Ethical Journalist Network, an organisation that promotes media ethics within journalism. She also writes flash fiction and has just finished her first novel. As you will read, Hannah’s job keeps her very busy and takes her travelling all over the world. With her running shoes always in her suitcase, we hear about Hannah’s travels when her runs pop up on Strava. Let’s read about how Hannah manages to fit running into her busy life and the part it plays.
Why do you run/what do you get from running/why did you start
I ran through my 20s in fits and starts, including my first marathon, but once I became a single Mum at 30, I really started running more – both for enjoyment and as a way to recover from a pretty awful relationship. My parents kindly bought me a running buggy and my daughter and I would go and do the parkrun at Bushy Park, which was just a few minutes from where we lived and we quickly made lots of friends through parkrun and my running club, The Stragglers. It was there, ten years ago, that I met my husband, a fellow runner.
In the past few years, running has become even more important to me. It’s something which has led me on extraordinary adventures, introduced me to amazing people, and taken me to unforgettable places. One of the best things about running for me is that, as a journalist and media consultant, I have travelled a lot for work and my running shoes always go with me, so I can run almost wherever I am – within reason – and it offers me a window on a world I might not otherwise see. It does also mean I get some funny looks and comments, but I suppose they make more memories!
But most importantly of all, running has helped me cope with some of the trauma and stresses I have been through. It’s not always been easy, but it’s rare that I return from a run feeling worse than when I set out.
Best running achievement
In 2017, I turned 40. Six years earlier I had met Bruce Fordyce at Bushy park parkrun, where were both wearing our Paris Marathon t-shirts from the previous week. I bounded up to him, not knowing who he was (when I was told later, I was mortified!) and he was very gracious and told me about this ‘little run’ he was involved with in South Africa. He said if I ever visited, I should check it out. I did realise the ‘little run’ was the world’s biggest participation ultra marathon.
Fast forward to 2017, and quite serendipitously, three weeks before my 40th, there was a media conference I’d been invited to the very same week as Comrades – and in Durban. So of course, I had to enter. It was one of the best, most humbling, days of my life, and one of the hardest. I made memories and friends that day who will be with me a lifetime, and raised a decent amount of money for Refuge, the charity that helps people who have experienced Domestic Violence.
Sadly, I got pretty poorly too and finished in the medical tent on a drip for three hours, looked after by an incredible team of medics, and missed some the party that evening because I was one of the last people discharged by the medics in Pietermaritzburg. The look on some of the faces of the conference delegates that week was entertaining as I turned up to moderate a panel in flip flops because I couldn’t wear shoes! It was a great early birthday present, and I was overjoyed to get my bronze medal, even if I don’t remember the last few kilometres. And the following day, I was honoured to see the legend himself and compare notes with Bruce Fordyce about our experiences of his ‘little run’!!
Running bucket list
I’d love to complete the Marathon Majors. I have run London and Berlin. Next on my list is New York, which is one of my favourite places to run in the world, and I’ve always dreamed of going to Tokyo. I’m not that far off the Boston marathon qualifying time, so I hope to get that one day. I’d like to get under 3.40 for a marathon. And part of me would love to do Comrades again, as well as the Two Oceans.
I have been incredibly lucky so it’s hard to choose just one.
It’s hard to beat Comrades. However, my marathon PB is up there, which I recorded at the Malta marathon (3.42.07) and I loved the Frozen Bonsai half marathon, running around Central Park in NY, more because I broke 1.40. The Buller half on the gorgeous west coast of South Island, New Zealand, was stunning and great fun because they have an amazing after run party and it’s a tradition for my husband’s family. And I know it’s not a race, but running the Hagley Park parkrun on my wedding day with my dad and my husband’s family in NZ at six month’s pregnant was pretty special.
Advice you would give to others/ your earlier running self/what you wish you’d known
Sometimes it’s hard to lace up your shoes and get out the door, but that’s often the toughest part of a run. There will be good days and bad days when you’re running, a bit like in life in general, and it’s important to accept that it’s ok to have bad days. I think they make the good days better. Sometimes when I’m struggling, I’ll set myself a target: I’ll run to the end of the road, or the next mile sign and see if I feel better then. Sometimes, I rely on mantras to keep me going. I did that in last year’s London Marathon when my mental health wasn’t great and wrote a saying on my hand that I kept looking at in the dark miles. But I suppose the most important thing I’d say is that nobody else knows what you have gone through to get to the start line of the race, or to get out the door for a run, so really when you run, though I know we all do it to a greater or lesser extent, the only person you are competing against is yourself.
If you would like to read more about Hannah’s thoughts on running and mental health below is a link to a piece she wrote for the Huffington Post
Thank you Hannah for finding the time to do this for us. We’re sure you are extremely busy at the moment with all that is going on in the world. We usually like to end these posts with a photo of us with the person involved but unbelievably we could not find a photograph of us with you. This is something that needs to be put right. Not sure in the current climate when this might be but let’s make sure we meet up at an event as soon as we can. Looking forward to that day.