Runner Profile: Kirsty Marsh

Thank you Lee Crisp for the nomination, I feel very honoured as I have only been with the club since May. I’m just worried that I won’t have much to say.

Early years

I grew up with my mum and two sisters in Felixstowe and I never really had any interest in sports. I’d rather have been in my granddad’s shed with a hammer, nails and some wood making a go-kart or some random contraption.

In junior school I made the netball team and I completed all my swimming certificates, cycling training and I was on the orienteering mini league.
On to high school and the only sports that I enjoyed were netball and rounders. I was quite good at rounders, I can hit and catch but I’m rubbish at throwing. When we got told in P.E. that we were doing a time trial running around Orwell field, I would be the one moaning and rolling my eyes (I’m sure I still do that when I hear the words ‘time trial’).

Since leaving school, I’ve had a gym membership on and off but I use it more for weights and swimming. I completed the 5K Race for life 8 years in a row because cancer became a big part of my family’s lives and, sadly, we lost my uncle 4 years ago after a 10 year battle with the disease. Before 2019, this was the only attempt at running that I had ever made!
It all started with a parkrun…

I spent many Saturday mornings in the gym, watching parkrun while hill walking on the treadmill.  My boyfriend at the time was very into parkrun and every week he would suggest that I come along and try it out. My New Year’s resolution for 2019 was to try and run 5k in under 30 minutes so I thought that this might be the way to achieve that goal. However, I talked myself out of doing parkrun for months until my ex-boyfriend said that he would run with me and pace me comfortably so that I didn’t ‘DNF’ (Not that that actually happens at parkrun).

I ran my first parkrun on the 13th April 2019 and I finished in a time of 30:30. I felt like I was going to die. 3 weeks later,  I got a sub 30 minute PB; I was so happy that I had accomplished my goal! I was walking home that morning thinking, what now? I really enjoyed running, so the following week I spoke to Sarah Fitch about FRR after parkrun. She said that I should come on Tuesday for a trial session. I just felt that I needed something to stop me giving up running. So I guess you lot are stuck with me now!

Joining FRR

In May 2019, I officially joined FRR and what a great decision that was! My first session was with Ian Duggan down the dip. Just the run to location nearly killed me as I could only run about 4 miles max at this point. Sarah Fitch was tail runner so it was nice to see a friendly face.

At my second session, I met Jenny Church. We were Strava friends even though I’d never met her. Jenny introduced me to her husband Dave and since then we have become good friends. We have done lots of races together, taking turns to car share and of course… lots of selfies! Jenny and Dave have been a great support and have talked me into most of my races.

First race

My first race in red was the Kirton Friday 5 on 31st May 2019. Jenny and Dave Church had told me that if I could run 4 miles, I could easily get to 5.

My only problem was that I pulled my hamstring 2 weeks before the race. I decided to still take part and I told everyone that I’d like to complete it in under an hour but in my head I wanted under 50 minutes.

It felt really great wearing the team shirt for the first time and I met some fellow reds that I hadn’t met at training. I completed the race in 49:47 so I was really pleased and I got my first medal.

2019 races

Since April, I have completed 19 races. At times, it has been challenging; being a single parent, juggling my time and relying on help from my mum to help with childcare. The races I have completed are as follows;

  • Kirton Friday 5
  • Ipswich Summer Series 5k
  • Framlingham Friday 5
  • Sudbury Friday 5
  • Stowmarket Friday 5
  • Great Bentley Friday 5
  • Ekiden Relays 5k
  • Ipswich Twilight 10k
  • Mersea Island 10 mile
  • Framlingham 10k
  • Great East Run ½ Marathon
  • Martlesham 10k
  • Saxon 5 mile
  • Bury St Edmunds ½ Marathon
  • Framlingham Cross Country (Never again!)
  • Scenic 7 mile 
  • Winter Runderand 5k
  • Sutton & Holbrook Fun Run

My fave races

Twilight 10k was one of my highlights as I completed it in under an hour. It was such a great race, the atmosphere was amazing and the bands playing gave me such a boost. I was shocked by how many people had lined the streets to support the runners. It was fantastic to see such a strong show from the reds and to have the support of a group on the way round, especially the group near the Willis building shouting my name.

Bury Half Marathon was also a great race for me after such a disappointing Great East Run. I was so pleased that I managed to get the time I was aiming for this time around. It was only my second half so I know that there is still loads of time for improvement.

The Ekiden Relays were also great fun and I loved meeting new FRR members. I was down as a reserve but got a 5k spot. The atmosphere was incredible, with the added bonus of food. Lots of people brought different things and a definite highlight was the doughnuts!

What I really love about these races is that I always have FRR support waiting at the finish line. You guys know who you are! Thank you so much, your support means a lot to me.

Worst race

Great East… Thank you Chris Sugars, the hug and kind words helped me to the finish.


I discovered parkrun quite late on. Well, I watched it for nearly a year from the gym before taking the plunge to run. Back then, I thought parkrun would just be a boring run/walk, but it is so much more than that. It is a whole community that welcomes everyone with open arms. I have made so many new friends since starting and met some old friends too.

At the time of writing, I have just completed my 40th parkrun and gained my 24th volunteer credit since April 2019. I really enjoy volunteering, it is really great helping other people, whether I’m a pacer trying to help someone to achieve a new goal or chatting to all the newbies at the first timers briefing.

So far I have completed 7 different parkrun locations, including Thetford and Sizewell. I do these with my Ipswich parkrun group. I love parkrun with them because I know there will always be breakfast!

Sharing is caring

I wasn’t sure whether I should include this part of my life in the profile but I feel now is the right time to share a few things. In July last year, my landlord sold the house I was renting, I didn’t have a guarantor so no letting agent would rent to me. This meant that my children and I were left homeless.

On the 1st of July, my three children and I had to move into a hostel in Ipswich. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I didn’t tell many people as I felt embarrassed and that I had let my little family down. It wasn’t a very pleasant place but I was grateful that we had a roof over our heads and were not living on the streets.

It was really hard living in one small room with 3 beds, a cot, a fridge and a kettle. We had a shared kitchen but it didn’t open until 8am and we had to be on the road by 7:30am to make it to school on time. I don’t think I had a proper night’s sleep the entire time we were there.

We were living in the hostel for 7 weeks, I still came to training every Tuesday, attended parkrun and any races I had booked. I just put a smile on my face and tried to be ‘normal’ Kirsty. Training was my getaway, time to forget my situation. I didn’t want to let anyone know as I didn’t want to be treated differently. I thought, it’s my problem and I’ve got to fix it.

I would like to thank you all as you kept me going through this hard time without even knowing. Justin Ostler, you invited me to breakfast after my first Ipswich parkrun, I’m not sure that you realised how much I needed a friend. I was nearly in tears as I didn’t want to go back to the small room in the hostel.

I’m happy to say that my children and I now have a lovely house and we are all settled in. I would like to add that none of us really have any idea what others are dealing with in their personal life, so just be nice. It is that simple.

What’s next?

This year I aim to get my 50th parkrun and my 25th volunteer credit before my year anniversary on the 13th of April.

I also feel that I need to return to the Great East Run as I have unfinished business there. I was so disappointed with my time, I could just say it was because of the heat but I think that perhaps I wasn’t quite ready for it at that point.

So far I only have Great Bentley half, Bromley 10k and both Twilight races in my calendar but I am sure that will change! My plan is to stay fit, keep running and enjoy life because you never know what is going to happen. Running has taught me that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined.

Nexts month’s nominee

I would like to nominate James Ellul, I love it when he comes running past me at parkrun with a double buggy

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