From RIOT Couch to 5k to Marathon Runner

From RIOT Couch to 5k to Marathon Runner

This month we’ve been talking to RIOT member Claire Ridge, who despite only starting on her Cough to 5k journey in September 2019, has now gone on to complete her first marathon distance. Claire’s determination has been a real inspiration within the club, and we’re pleased to share her story here.

My running journey started in September 2019 when I started the C25K with Dorchester RIOT. I was nervous, but I signed up with the hope of getting fitter and healthier.  I still remember our first minute of running around the rugby pitch and thinking “when is this going to end?!”.  Everyone was so encouraging and the minutes of running gradually increased.  I met a lovely running buddy, Nicky, and we did all the “homework” together for the course.  The support from all the RIOT members was amazing, especially Paula Fry at the Park Run Graduation.  I was introduced to Strava and then I was hooked!

Next, Nicky and I decided we would have a rest day after the graduation Park Run, and then go headfirst into our first RIOT challenge; the Festive 24, with the aim to establish a permanent running habit.  It was a hard challenge, and my legs were extremely tired by the end, but we both completed it.  I had a couple of days rest over Christmas and then got back to the routine of running with the aim of heading out three times a week.

The RIOT Munich to Budapest challenge soon became my second Club event.  Before this challenge I had not run more than 4 miles, yet it pushed me to run 5 miles each day and towards the end of the challenge I ended up completing a long run in the wind and rain with other RIOT members and thoroughly enjoying it!

Next, I signed up for the Race for Life. This was something that I really wanted to accomplish as I had recently recovered from breast cancer.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 happened and as with many events, the Race for Life was cancelled.  I had raised a lot of money whilst training so I decided to do the event virtually.  It was supposed to be a 10K but I felt that this distance was no longer such a challenge for me, and so I decided I would aim for a half marathon instead, swiftly downloading a new training plan.  I knew it would be hard going out running three times a week on my own, as the new lockdown restrictions prevented me from teaming up with a running buddy.  I did not want to stop running and lose all the progress that I had made, and so I followed my plan and kept running, just me and my tunes!  It was not easy juggling home schooling and caring for parents, but in June 2020 I completed my half marathon.  I was so pleased that I completed it, and hearing my dad had just received the all clear from his cancer a few days earlier made it all the more memorable.

By now I well and truly had the running bug!  I loved lacing up my trainers and going for a run for a little bit of me time, made all the better as I usually saw some friendly RIOT faces while out.  I discovered I much preferred the longer, slower runs rather than aiming for speed, and that suited me just fine!

When the RIOT club runs returned in small groups of 6, it was great to meet and chat to different RIOT members and I joined lots of lovely runs over the summer.  I volunteered to lead a Steady run on a Monday evening, and I have now led a steady Monday run most weeks (when it has been allowed!), finding I really enjoy helping and encouraging other runners.

Over the summer I completed longer trail runs with Anne Saunders, which I loved (apart from when she manages to find yet another hill!).  Inspired by other people running marathons I wondered, could I could achieve that?  I thought I would give it a go.  So, I signed up for a virtual marathon in October 2020 for Cancer Research.   Another training plan and off I went, coupled with much helpful advice from Anne.   In October 2020 the moment came, I completed my first marathon.  I was not fast, I just plodded around, but I did it! I could not really believe that I had completed a marathon.

Since then I have continued running, completing the RIOT Every Mile Counts challenge and the Festive 24 challenge for a second time. Thankfully, this was much easier than last year, and the mulled wine and mince pie were much appreciated at the end of the 24 days.

I am still running at least three times a week, usually with Tamsin; lots of lovely runs with lovely company.   Having someone to run with makes the miles go so quicker, and last weekend we completed a half marathon.

I was surprised and honoured to be asked to write this. I have met so many lovely people in RIOT.  There are lots of inspirational people within the club, from the super-fast, the long-distance runners and the people that just regularly keep running in these difficult times.

I really look forward to RIOT runs when it is safe for them to resume. Until then stay safe everyone and keep on running!

Claire Ridge 21st January 2021

Thank you Claire for sharing your incredible journey.  Personally, I think Claire has done herself a disservice – her marathon was completed in a fantastic time and she has soon become an integral member of the club.  We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this new, but clearly natural, runner!