Runner Profile: Carol Kemp

Where it all began

I grew up in South Africa where running is a much loved sport. My father was an ultra runner and completed the Comrades marathon 7 times as well as various other amazing races. I remember as a child having to get up at the crack of dawn when it was still really cold to go and watch him at his races, due to the hot weather races tend to start at 5:30/6:00 am, I also found it a bit boring waiting around to see my dad dash by and then have to go and wait at the finish to see him coming in. I used to love going to the running club with him every Thursday evening and I ran cross country for the school but never won anything, I only did it because I was rubbish at the other school sports. At the time my whole life revolved around horse riding. I entered a few 5km fun runs but never trained very hard for them.

Once I left school I got back into running regularly with my brother in law and took a bet with a friend of his to run a 25km race and who ever won had to pay for dinner, I really didn’t feel confident that I could beat him but I also didn’t have any money to be paying for dinner so the training began. Living in Westville (South Africa) the training was tough due to the heat, humidity and the hills. Possibly why I tend to tackle the hills head on now, I was never allowed to walk them so I tend to just motor on up to get it over with as quickly as possible. Needless to say I did win the bet and got a very nice dinner.

After I left South Africa I moved to Ireland and then England and running was sporadic, usually when I was trying to shift a bit of weight. It wasn’t until I got engaged that I really upped my game again so I’d look good in my big white frock walking down the isle. I entered the Southend Half marathon to have a goal to work towards.  My husband kept saying that I should join the running club but I didn’t think I’d be good enough, that thought changed after I ran the Kirton 5 2015 and I didn’t come last. I remember actually passing some club runners on the hill so that gave me the confidence to join possibly the very next week and I haven’t look back since. I’ve met and made so many fantastic friends through the club and don’t know how I ever ran on my own before, no wonder I could never stick to it and progress.

Favourite moments

Gosh where do I start! Last year I trained for my first marathon so to make sure I kept up my mileage whilst on holiday I entered the Haweswater Half Marathon in Cumbria which was stunning, an out and back course which passed along the shores of the Haweswater reservoir in a remote mountain valley.

Winning the most improved trophy last year was incredibly special.

The Flower of Suffolk run is also a firm favourite; I first ran the 18 mile route in 2016 and then the 26 miles last year. It was amazing to share this with some very special friends and the food tables along the way are always a winner.

Colchester Half last year and this year where very memorable and are on my list of favourites.

The race that I hold dearest has got to be Bungay Marathon last year. I always said I’d never run a marathon and that it was crazy to be running for so long but somehow I got it done. I aimed for under 4 hours as anything longer was just bonkers in my mind so I was thrilled to have achieved it in 3h54. I had my husband cycling along the route which was tremendous support and then the very lovely Sarah Parker decided she’d pick me up half way and we’d run the rest of it together. Well that just gave me the boost that I needed. I left behind the two guys that I’d started with and just kept putting one foot in front of the other and somehow made my dream come true.

Plans for the future

I’m really not sure if I’ll run another marathon or not, never say never!  I’m just enjoying running and doing the odd race here and there. I love how running has changed my life and how I always have someone to share some miles and have a bit of banter with.

I’m very excited to be on the team of Run Directors for Felixstowe parkrun and looking forward to giving something back to the community.

I’m also in the early stages of getting a book together that is filled with natural, nutritious and easy to follow recipes to help fuel your body, feed the family and easy to follow recipes.

My aim for this year is to achieve 1200 miles by the end of the year, so far, so good.


Next month’s nomination

I’d love to hear more from Jackie Collins, she’s done some fascinating races in the strangest of places. They say it’s the quiet ones that have the most to say, so over to you Jackie.


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