Meet The Member – James May

Can I have your autograph when you’re next at Temple Newsam parkrun

Only if you’re buying the bacon sarnies.

What’s the best piece of running advice you’ve received since you joined the club? Also, was joining a running club as scary as you thought it would be?

So much good advice offered; unfortunately I’m often too stubborn and need to learn the hard way myself (read pacing!) probably the best though was to make sure I enjoyed the experience of London Marathon.

As far as joining being scary goes, as I joined up by accident while out running I never really got to consider that!

You seem to run all over the country. What’s the best race (location and fun wise) you have taken part in?

Great question and hard to pin down an answer, from iconic road races, freezing beach dashes and excruciating fell runs they’ve all had their unique appeal. I think the Pier to Pier race from South Shield Pier to Sunderland Pier clinches it though; awesome views, start and finish on beaches, mixed terrain and the added twist that you have a choice of route. Just a shame it clashes with the Leed half.

What triggered you to start running? And did you play any sport when younger?

At school I was very unsporty, I played a bit of rugby but weighing 15stone at 15 that was mainly as ballast in the scrum. If cross country running was on the PE agenda I’d feign illness to get out of it! I started running aged 19 initially to lose weight, I enjoyed it though and ran on my own purely for fitness for several years, but it fell away in my later 20’s. I then decided to enter the Great North Run Ballot in 2011, was successful and started the hard path back to fitness from there.

What keeps/gets you motivated,and are you motivated by other athletes reaching their goals and improving??

The first race I ever took part in was the 2011 Blaydon Race as part of the build up to the Great North Run, taking part I absolutely loved it, and by the time I crossed the finish with the associated high I’d decided that was what I wanted to spend as much of my spare time as I could doing. So now when I really can’t be bothered, it’s too cold or too hot, I tend to focus on that great feeling I get every time I pin a number to my vest to remind myself why I do it. I’ll never win a race, or be ‘fast’, but as long as I feel like I’m pushing myself I’m enjoying it; when I haven’t trained enough, or I’m carrying too much weight I just can’t be on it in the same way and feel like I’m letting myself down.

I’m not spurred on to beat any of my fellow athletes, but I do sometimes see the achievements of others and think I could work harder.:)

To both; what are your proudest running moments to date?

Of course, completing my first marathon, that was a magical moment. But I think also my Great North Runs, to date three of them, and every time I have hit the target time set for myself. Being from ‘up there’ makes those races a bit more special too.

What motivated you to train as a LIRF?

The main motivation has been a love of the sport and a desire to bring in those who want to but think they can’t. I wouldn’t have ever considered it though without those in the club in who already enthuse on this. I won’t name names but I think everyone knows who they are.

What would be your advice to anyone just starting/thinking about taking up running?

Simply buy a pair of trainers and get on with it, we’ll see you Tuesday or Thursday. Seriously though, start slowly, enjoy it and don’t feel intimidated by anyone who might try to put you off.

Most enjoyable race and why? What race would you recommend to run and why? What health improvements have you seen?

Most enjoyable would be the pier to pier as mentioned earlier, but I’d recommend one of my other favourites; the Blaydon Race, because it’s steeped in North East history, has an amazing atmosphere, is fast and flat. Oh and you get a bottle of decent ale at the finish.

Health wise, I don’t want to speak to soon but I can’t remember the last time I came down with a cold which I put down to running.

Where locally is your favourite running route or place to run?

A lot of nice places to run, on a Tuesday during the summer I really like the Chris Gill Handicap route, and of course Temple Newsam. But overall as I like running by water I’d have to say the canal, usually parking at Woodford lock and running out towards Castleford.

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