In middle-age, for many, there are often fewer opportunities for people to make new friends and for past generations, many people’s circle of friends contract rather than expands once reaching ones 40s, 50s and beyond. Until Covid lockdowns became a regular event in the UK, I used to get to meet new people regularly. Mostly, the expansion of my circle-of-friends has been via the running club I’m a member of, Lordshill Road Runners, or parkrun. These friendship start with a ‘hello’ or an introduction. Before long (and when not under some form of lockdown), we’re seeing each other more regularly at training sessions, parkrun or other events… just about remembering each other’s names, discussing recent achievements and slowly learning a little about each other.
One opportunity to get to know me better is to read my (infrequent) blog posts right here where I post about my running and triathlon-related experiences. Most of it is dull I’m sure but my aim is to keep track of what I’ve done in the hope that when I’m old(er) and grey(er) and my memory has diminished (more) that I can remind myself, and maybe others, what I’ve done and achieved since getting off my rapidly-expanding derriere, deciding to start running at the grand old age of 39.
However, to ease the introduction and to provide a summary of a little about me (mostly related to running, triathlon or similar activities) for recently acquired friends, here are 10 things you may (or may not) know about me.
a) I’m almost 52 (at time of writing) and and have been married for over 20 years to Denise and we have two boys – Daniel aged 14 (almost 15) and Connor aged 12. As a family we volunteer by boarding trainee Guide Dogs…. a great way to have a dog without most of the long-term commitments.
b) Until early 2015, I was the Technical Director for an online florist where I’d worked for about 12 years. I was very lucky to be able to work from home and had few reasons to leave the house due to this. The positive side of this was that when they were in infant and junior school I was able to spend a lot of time with the boys and get then ready for school, wave then off and greet then when they returned. As homeschooling has become the norm, I’m the one that has to make sure they do some work and don’t play Minecraft all day.
In early 2015, I worked as Head of Technology for parkrun Global in what felt, for a time, like a dream job. I guess it was on occasion but mostly it was quite a toxic environment. Due to this and a decision to outsource parkrun’s technology (which I don’t think ever came to fruition), I left (along with all of ‘my’ team) to pursue other interests in December 2015. Ultimately, not working at parkrun and my subsequent role (detailed below) has had a massive positive impact on my life.
Since early 2016, I’ve been working as ‘Head of Platform Development’ for a (what was at the time) new startup in Southampton. The startup was ‘started up’ by friends I’d worked with well over 16 years previously. It’s a great team, really positive and with a positive outlook on technology and who value my experience technically as well as an experienced team leader and project manager. As our offices are at the University of Southampton Science Park, until Covid, I got to run in Lordswood a few times a week.
c) In 2009, the fact that I rarely left the house, increasingly more mobile children and feeling less and less active meant that I took up running to train for a charity 10K (it was also the first 10K event that fellow LRR memberDi Mattingly did)
d) I found out about parkrun in late 2009 and attended my first parkrun event almost 11 years ago at Eastleigh parkrun’s 3rd event in May 2010 (also Lewis Chalk’s first parkrun – Lewis was first across the line)
e) I took over as Event Director (ED) at Eastleigh parkrun in late 2010 and then went on to set up, and become Event Director at Netley Abbey parkrun and Southampton parkrun before passing on the reins to others once the events were established. Along the way, I helped with setting up other local parkruns including Winchester and Brockenhurst’s events.
f) I founded Southampton junior parkrun in November 2013 and was the Event Director for about 18 months. I was also a parkrun Ambassador for junior parkruns in Hampshire (helping existing events as well as helping teams establish new events) and a parkrun Event Adjudicator for a while. In 5 years, I’d volunteered at over 250 parkrun events undertaking over 400 roles (including being Run Director at over 55 events). Of the 4 events I’ve set up and ED’d, before Covid, several thousand runners participated every weekend.
My volunteering efforts resulted in me carrying the Queens Baton for the 2014 Commonwealth Games Queens Baton Relay with Iwan Thomas.
g) I’m a proud member of Lordshill Road Runners, a club I joined over 8 years ago. I became Vice Chairman for the club in September 2013 and held that role for 2 years. I also help organise the popular LRR Mile Series and have been Race Director for several of the club’s races (10 Mile 2013, 10K 2014 and 10K 2015).
I was active as a Run Leader on Monday night sessions with LRR for over a year before starting to train as a Coach in Running Fitness. Since qualifying, and becoming a qualified Fitness Instructor and S&C Fundamentals Coach, I’ve been providing S&C sessions to club members for almost 5 years. I love delivering these sessions and hope they’re enjoyed by those that attend. Currently I’m working towards becoming a Level 4 S&C Coach.
h) As well as enjoying running, I’m a keen, yet currently lapsed, triathlete (although not particularly good!) and have completed several since my first in June 2013. The longest triathlon I’ve completed to date is the Challenge Weymouth Half Distance Triathlon in September 2013. I did have ambitions of doing a full Iron distance event once upon a time. I’m also a keen and half-decent skier and look forward to being able to hit the slopes soon.
i) I like organising things (as should be apparent from the above) and am fairly good at time management in order to juggle the things I do including training, work and a hectic family life. Did I mention I’m also the Treasurer for the Scout group my boys attend?
j) I enjoy challenges. I know lots of people who don’t appear to set themselves any other challenge other than living from day to day. I did that for many years just plodding through each day, week and year. However, my life is now made up of multiple challenges and they give a great focus and reasons for living.
So, there you go. That’s a little about me! In reality, many of the above achievements occurred in the early 2010s and are a little outdated. However, since then, my main focus has been on delivering S&C sessions to LRR members both face-to-face and, more recently, virtually.