We’ve often said that one of the best things about running has been the people we meet along the way. We rarely go on a trip without meeting someone new or getting to know someone we already know even better. Sometimes it’s just a brief encounter – a short exchange of views or sharing a particular moment in or after a race. Other times there is a connection and we become friends for life.

The runners we meet all have their own story – their reasons for running, their favourite events and their running goals. They come with a wide range of abilities: some enjoy running, for others it’s a bit of a trial, but they have all found something in running that fulfils a need. We’ve met some amazing runners over the years and we always find their stories interesting. We’d like to introduce you to some of these people, and we’ve asked then to tell you a bit about themselves in their own words. Today’s Friday friend is Alan Lovell.

Alan Lovell

We first met Alan at a RunThrough event after I (Cam) became friends with him on Strava. We were immediately struck by how friendly and encouraging he was to other runners and such easy company.

Alan is 53 years old and has been running for seven years. In that time he has run events at distances from one mile to ultra-marathons and has also taken part in duathlons and obstacle course races. However, although you won’t find him complaining about it, these days, pain from previous (non-running related) injuries tends to restrict him to the shorter distance events.

His 450 plus medals come from all over the world.

When not running, Alan spends much of his time encouraging others to achieve when volunteering and marshalling at a wide variety of events.  At the time of writing to us he had just return from marshalling at the Obstacle Course World Championships which must have been brilliant fun.

Now it’s time for Alan to tell us more about what he likes about running and what motivated him to continue.

How did I start  running?

My ex-girlfriend ran for fitness and I would get bored sat indoors waiting for her to get back, so one day  I said I’m coming with you! That was met with the sort of look that any caring person would give. “Are you sure?” was the answer I got, “I mean you are not exactly built for running are you?” Well honestly she was right, I was a topping 135kg/21stone. So off we went running over the Chantries at the back of Guildford, a 5mile loop that she did often. I stopped once but I quite liked it, so went to Fit Stuff and bought my first pair of running trainers – New Balance. The rest is history.

Why do I run?

Why indeed ? I tell myself it’s more to stay fit as age creeps up on me. Deep down I think it’s really the social side, I’ve met loads of people and THEY ALL have their own stories to tell and I can listen as well as talk while running – much to annoyance of some friends.

What I get from running? One word. CAMARADERIE! We are all different yet strangely all the same our whether it’s our hobby/passion/challenge/chore/demon/hate/love. For me its Social Running. For my 50th birthday I went to Vegas for third time except this time 16 running buddies came with me ( people I’d known for less than 2 years).

Then there is the other side of running the volunteering//marshalling.I volunteer for parkrun, Runthrough, Fix Events, Nice Work, Nuclear Races, Mo Running, Poppy Runs and I have just got back from marshalling at the Obstacle Course Race World  Championships.

Best Achievements:

100 times volunteering at parkrun
2012 – Top 500 finish in Vegas 5k (5786 entrants)
2014 – My 10K PB 51.03 at Bristol, London marathon finish
2017 – Endure24  7 laps 35 miles
2019 – 10 10K races in 10 days at Lake Orta, 3 Laender marathon weekend – 4k and 10.8k around Lake Constance/ Bodensee in Germany and Austria

Favourite races:

Lake Orta 10 in 10 race series
3 Laender races
Rock ‘n’ roll events
Nuclear Rush (muddy)

Bucket list:

I’m not a bucket list type.  If I see something interesting I’ll do it. Although I do want to try to qualify in my age group for the OCR World Championships in 2020.  And I would like to combine a holiday and race in Vermont.

Advice/ with hindsight:

My only good advice is get the correct kit /equipment for the races you are doing. It’s amazing how much difference a technical t-shirt can make.

And gait analysis is a good idea too.

Oh and start slowly and build up.

I went mad chasing times for two years but now I’m happy whether I finish 5k in 25 mins or 45 mins. You see so much more and share fellow runners achievements when you take more time.

Things I’ve learnt about me. I cant run on my own! So I race up to three times a week. Thank heavens for the Runthrough season pass – 4th year next year.I  talk a lot when I’m running (sorry anyone who had the pleasure). I love starting last in chip times races. Fave colours are blue/orange. I have four bags full of Medals (457) and two bags full of running t-shirts to date but that figure goes up weekly.

How I met thisishowwerun :

I noticed a fellow Strava runner posting the same courses as me so started following them and then we met at a run (a Runthrough event) and chatted. W’ve since met on a number of occasions including at Lake Orta 10 in 10 earlier this year, so friendly and nice I feel like I’ve known them ages but its less than a year.

You girls are amazing…XXX

Thank you Alan. It’s always good to turn up to a race and see your friendly face. I’m sure it won’t be too long before our paths cross once again.