My Running Story – Darrell Benge

After reading our newsletter, Run Leader Darrell set about writing his running history to date…..

Darrell is a great example of what you can achieve if you put your mind to it. Currently sitting on top of our club championships having hit some great early season PB’s at both 5k Sprint and 10K distances. We can’t wait to see what the next chapter has in store for you Darrell…..

Part One

My running history.

Following on from Lawrence’s introduction in the first newsletter I thought I would give you a little more of my running history.

I never liked running… PE was not my favourite lesson and I hated sports days. When it came to cross country or the 1500m I’d probably walk as much as run. Not that I was unfit, I’d be outside playing and exploring the village where I grew up.

I left school to work on site as a bricklayer, which again kept me reasonably fit and has continued to do so to a certain extent. Over the years I made a couple of attempts to join the fire service. This kind of highlighted my exact level of fitness. Northamptonshire made us run about 3 miles as part of the fitness test, once I stopped feeling sick, I again decided that running was not one of my favourite activities. 

The most active I’d get apart from work was through my motorsport marshalling. In my early years I would be stood on the side of a racetrack ready to respond. I must say running to and especially from the edge of a live circuit certainly gets the legs moving! In more recent years I spent most of my time sat in a van or a medical car waiting for a “shout” if something has gone seriously wrong. Occasionally, I’d get out to help push a car clear usually signified by a very out of breath radio message to race control.

I never had much need or desire to run, although I had friends who ran and did races. When I moved to Shrewton in the early 2000s my partner at the time, Rosie, was a keen runner having previously completed the London Marathon and was training for an Ironman as part of Salisbury Tri Club. Rather her than me I thought! We still often meet now at Salisbury parkrun and she is as amazed as anyone that I now run!

A few years later Shrewton running club had formed and had started their couch to 5k course. During an evening sat in the pub with Cheryl and talking with Fran about C25k I managed to persuade Cheryl to sign up which I thought was highly amusing. Unfortunately, she succumbed to a bit of an injury preventing her from completing that year but has since followed a C25k course with me and has now achieved a 5k. At the beginning of 2019, once again sat in the pub, I’m not sure what came over me but I made a decision to give the couch to 5k a go myself. I was thinking I needed to do something to keep myself fit (other than walking to the pub) and though it could be quite a nice social way to do it. 

I signed up and paid the money… no turning back now! I better get kitted up not having any previous need for any ’sports’ kit. I did have a pair of Salomon trainers I used for walking which I’d had for a few years and plenty of base layers and t-shirts from my marshalling so popped to sports direct (other sports shops are available) for some joggers. Think I was suitably kitted.

Tuesday 12thof March arrived for the first evening of the couch to 5k. There was already a slightly nervous looking group waiting and luckily, I already knew quite a few there. Following a welcome from Karen and Nick we were straight into a warmup and then the first ‘run’. 1 minute with a 90 second walk which we did 8 times the first night. Not too bad and much easier in a group. A few of us arranged to meet again on the Thursday for the homework run and then again at the weekend. We were keen but the regular homework runs helped and we often added another minute to the time each weekend run so the step between weeks didn’t feel so big. One mistake I made was going too far on a homework run one weekend and ending up with a sore shin. A quick visit to Caroline for some advice and some tweaking and a gentle run on the following Tuesday helped. Don’t go too far too soon!

Surprisingly the weeks flew by and soon the 11th of May arrived and the parkrun graduation day. I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect. Salisbury parkrun, held in Churchill gardens, is well-supported and has a large turnout each week. All the couch to 5k graduates gathered there on the Saturday morning together with much support from regular club members. There was a briefing from the parkrun race director for all the new runners attending and any ‘tourists’ visiting from other venues. This gave us an idea of the course and the number of laps; the winter course is 4 laps and is well marshalled and coned so is easily navigated. The only thing to remember was counting the right number of laps, checking off each time past the children’s play area.

We all made our way over to the start area. The faster runners gathered towards the front. Shrewton’s regular runners were on hand to pace or run with the C25K gang if need be. I found I ended up running my own pace which suited me there is always someone around to run with or chase. There was lots of support all the way round from the marshals and friends and family gathered to watch on. It was just a case of finding a comfortable pace that was easy to maintain, the laps are relatively short on the winter circuit, so it feels like soon you’re ticking them off. On the final lap we turned off the route towards the finish funnel. A chance for a sprint finish…..! Maybe. Into the funnel and collect the finish token from the marshal at the end. Time to catch a bit of breath and grab a drink before going and getting my barcode and the finishing token scanned. The whole process is easy and very well organised. 

We waited to welcome the rest of team Shrewton into the finish. There was cake and bubbles to celebrate and Karen handed out certificates to all of us graduating and then the “paparazzi” descended for a few photographs.

First Parkrun done! The results arrived by email later in the morning giving my time of 31.34. I was incredibly happy with that!

Part II

Look forward to part two of Darrells run story tomorrow….