It’s June 1966, Sports Day at Cardiff High School for Girls. Clare House has no runner in the 440 yards (in old money!) Anne Thomas has just won the 220 yards (which she entered because she couldn’t beat Hilary Williams, all Cardiff champion in the 100 yards). Can she run the 440 yards having never run that distance before? Well she did and she won, beating three sixth formers, who were shocked to see her overtake them on the final bend! Fast forward some 40 odd years to 2012 and Anne Smith (nee Thomas) decides to resurrect her long sleeping ambitions, get her legs out and start running again!

I looked on the internet for a local running club and found Lancashire Lasses. I emailed them and arranged to go one Wednesday evening. In my head I was still that 15 year old girl who could sprint with little effort – what a shock – I wasn’t. The legs didn’t want to work, the breathing was loud and erratic and the recovery took forever! I could only run about 100 yards before having to walk.

Fast forward to 2014 and I join Red Rose, having done a few Preston parkruns, a Race for Life, the Manchester 10k and the Preston 10k. A personal highlight had been taking part in “First Back to the Stadium” in 2013, a five mile run terminating on the track in the Olympic Stadium in London. What a thrill to run on that track – just had to sprint when I saw the finish line – it’s in my DNA! So that was one ticked off my bucket list!

Between 2014 and 2015 I was progressing really well – enjoying training runs with both Runsmart and Red Rose. I was also enjoying intervals, although really tough, with Mrs. O in Avenham Park and at UCLAN (loved running on the track!) It was at this time that Cuerden Valley parkrun became an important part of my weekends and where I met so many new friends.


2015 – a strange year, part of it almost surreal. February – Southport Mad Dog 10k – a new pb, 8 minutes off my Preston time six months earlier. My first Interclub at Preston – a reasonable time and great camaraderie. Then a bit of a struggle. Problems with a tight calf, a bit of breathing issues but generally ok. To cut a long story short, a medical problem and then no running for almost a year. Quel dommage!! Had to concentrate on getting well again and running had to take a back seat.

January 2016 – given the all clear after six months but with confidence low and niggling little voices in my head, delayed starting to run again.

March 2016 – enter, stage right, a knight in shining armour – Pete O’Grady and his C25k. Felt a bit apprehensive going along for the first time but needn’t have worried. Being with the beginners was great fun although I felt like a bit of a fraud because I wasn’t really a beginner, just someone who needed to re-engage with running.

14th May 2016 – our graduation at Preston parkrun – nervous, could I do it? Well, yes I could – with help from my posse!! It was good to be back – a bit slower than before but able to “run that hill” not once, not twice but three times! Thank heavens for Cuerden Valley – my legs remembered how to run a hill!

So I’m back – a few training runs with Runsmart and Red Rose under my belt, a little 5k jaunt at Catforth (very flat!) and “Into the Valley” today for the first time in almost a year. The legs have just about held up! Feeling good.

I need to digress here because I haven’t mentioned some very important people who have helped me more than they realise – I’m talking about you, Carol, Judi, Emily, Anees, Anneke, Jenny and Simon. They have all offered to run with me on many occasions but with the proviso “when you’re ready Anne”. Their continual support and encouragement has been invaluable. Of course they are all Red Rosers!

What I really want to say is that it’s never too late to start running or return to running. With the help of family (especially my husband, Chris, who is not a runner but might one day be – I haven’t given up on him yet!), friends and fellow runners, I have found my enthusiasm again. Thank you all.

Time to buy a new pair of trainers? – why not!

The “journey” continues …..