Today’s Friday Friend is Che Odium

We met Che in Limassol earlier this year when Run Mummy Run were out in force. It was immediately clear that she embraced the groups ethos of being supporting and welcoming to all. After the plane journey home together, we hugged and wished each other well feeling sure we would meet up again. When that time came it was at one of the most special race moments I’ve experienced. Whilst pacing at the London marathon I ran past the Run Mummy Run support point at mile 19 and got what was probably the loudest cheer I’ve ever had! Che captured this moment on film..what a sound!

Lets hear what motivates Che to run…

Why do you run/what do you get from running/why did you start

Running started off as a way for me to get fitter and healthier. I went to my local running club the Ealing Eagles who ran a beginners’ couch to 5k programme. I am sure many people can relate to the vulnerability you feel when you put yourself into a space that you know will be extremely challenging. The fear of not keeping up, the fear of not finishing, the fear of not looking like a runner, the fear of getting everything wrong. When you come into running as a beginner, you have to let yourself be vulnerable and be patient.

Completing my first non-stop mile was truly life- changing. I sat in the park with tears of joy feeling amazed at my accomplishment. Since then, I have run 10ks, 10 milers, half marathons and last year, my first marathon.

Along the way, I discovered the marvellous running community. The support from my local running club Ealing Eagles and the tribe of friends from Run Mummy Run, an online running community for women, have opened a whole new social side to running. Pushing my boundaries even more, I ran the Marrakesh Half Marathon and most recently I ran in Limassol, where I met Camilla and Jacquie who were so inspiring. Little known fact, runners are the kindest people you will meet. I have lost count of the random friendships struck up with runners in the toughest races where they become your biggest cheerleaders, cry with you, share their life stories, just for that moment in time.

I enjoy giving something back to the sport that helped me find a new purpose and energy. I volunteer at parkruns and races. I am a certified Run Leader and completed England Athletics Officials course with a view to getting licensed to be a field official.  Along with my husband I coached a team of thirty parents from my daughter’s school to run a half marathon. Many had never ran before so we started by getting them to 5k, 10k the. half marathon distance over 18 weeks. The entire group completed the race and raised nearly £10,000 for the school.

Best running achievement

Tough question, however because I had to pinch myself whilst doing it, my biggest achievement would be lining up on the front line of the Great North Run as an international athlete representing St. Lucia (where I was born). This was part of a record- breaking attempt by the Great North Run to have a runner from every country in the world running in the event.

We were given VIP treatment, lots of publicity and interviews and welcomed into the Great Run family. I am still part of a Great World Runners facebook group formed by all of the International runners. Meeting the “real athletes” like Sir Mo Farah and others and the sheer excitement and friendliness of the people of Newcastle, made it a very special race.

Running bucket list

Endure 24 which I missed this year due to injury. I will be back!

Favourite race

Ealing Half Marathon. Even after running the Great North Run and London marathon where the support is truly electric, there is something very special about the community spirit on display in my local road-closed half marathon which goes through the heart of the community.

The local churches provide water stations and the people of Ealing come out to line the route or wave from their front doors and gardens with inspirational signs, buckets of jelly babies and a good spray of water when needed. The race also means that for the entire summer in Ealing you see the very encouraging sight of local people training on the half marathon route.

The army of volunteers are local to the community and hundreds of Ealing Eagles take part as well as other local running clubs. The event is well organised and usually runs like clockwork. Most importantly, the EHM team is involved with the local community throughout the year.

I don’t know many races such strong community participation. I believe the running community should be actively inclusive and embrace the entire community, the slow and fast and minority  and disadvantaged groups. Running has a place for everyone.

Advice you would give to others/ your earlier running self/what you wish you’d known

Don’t allow fear to stop you from trying.

Before I joined the Ealing Eagles beginners running group, I didn’t think I would ever complete a mile run. It took me some time to realise that the only thing standing in my way was my own fear. These fears still surface but now I know can overcome them.

Failing that I have strong community of running friends who know just the right way to get be back on my feet.

Thank you Che. We think that you have been a bit modest about your running achievements. Inspiring and enabling so many others to run and achieve their own dreams and goals is pretty amazing. We look forward to catching up with you at an event in the neat future. Keep on shining like you do!