Runner Profile: James Ellul
Firstly, thanks to Kirsty for the nomination.
How did I get into running?
I was never sporty as a child or at school. My parents must have entered me in the Capel fun run when I was about 8, I can’t really remember it, I didn’t enter another race for about 25 years so it couldn’t have gone that well.
I spent most of my twenties doing zero exercise and like a lot of us getting a bit older I decided I needed to do something. I started cycling to work and quite enjoyed it, so I bought a road bike and started going out longer distances at the weekends. I got the cycling bug and joined Ipswich Bicycle Club for a while, entering a fair few sportives but I could never pluck up the courage to enter a proper race.
I can’t remember why I decided to take to the pavements one day but I think I thought if I can cycle 100 miles, how hard can running 3 be… how wrong I was. I persevered. Because going out on a bike in the dark, cold, winter nights is not fun. Once I got over the “new runner” feeling of dying after running a couple of hundred meters, I was hooked.
The first race I entered was the Ipswich half marathon back in 2013. Up and down the hills around Christchurch park. I finished in a respectable time of 1hr 53. I really enjoyed the race, the atmosphere and was happy to beat my mate I was running it with. I remember the amazing feeling of achievement completing this race and the pints down the pub after were some of the best ever tasted. So I entered it again the following year completing it in 1hr 49. And 2 more after that.
Becky and I entered the St Edmunds Pacers’ and Great Bentley Friday fives in 2014 and I can remember us feeling very out of our depth, saying to each other “most people are in club gear they must be proper runners!” We really enjoyed finishing and it didn’t take us long to realise its’ all about beating your own time not the person in front.
So just as we were getting started … cue marriage and children.
Wearing the Red Vest
Two years later…
In 2016, together with our ten-week-old baby, we moved from Ipswich to glorious Felixstowe. Having previously considered joining a running club, we decided it was a good time to join the Felixstowe Road Runners. We took it in turns to try out the Tuesday night sessions. I remember the warm welcome and inclusive feeling on that first night, turning up to a club on my own is well out of my comfort zone but that welcoming feeling at FRR made me want to come back.
I really enjoy the club sessions and within a fairly short time I could really see the benefit in my running. I enjoy hanging onto the back of the lead group and trying to keep Robin and others just in sight. You just don’t get this sort of motivation running on your own and I’m not likely to find myself running up and down Bent Hill or the steps in the seafront gardens without a reason!
Brighton marathon in 2018 was my first marathon and I loved the whole experience, even the training (nothing to do with the arrival of our second child). My sister in law was also running so we went down with all the family and made a proper weekend of it. The race went better than I could have ever hoped for with my first attempt in at 3.47.
I was lucky enough to celebrate my 40th last year with a trip to New York and the marathon thrown in. It was an amazing once in a lifetime experience, the support is like nothing I had seen before. Every part of the route is lined with enthusiastic Americans cheering you on every step, each borough wants to out-do the other with their support. The actual running bit was very tough and a lot more up and down (mostly up) than I was expecting. But the support, the route and the organisation of it was amazing. I finished in 3.39, I was hoping to sneak in just under 3.30 but the route was tough, I think I have a sub 3.30 marathon in me…one day.
My favourite local race on the circuit is the Hadleigh 10 mile. I don’t know what it is about it, I like running in the open countryside and it’s a part of the world I know well, having grown up in a similar area. Also, considering the route is so undulating it’s actually a fairly fast course and one I always feel good on. Even if on the 2018 edition when I thought I was flying at the end, Dan Clarke breezed past me with ½ a mile to go looking like he wasn’t even trying!
I love our Saturday morning routine of dragging the kids out and into the buggy to go for a “run on the beachside” as we say. I love that it’s local and Becky, I & the boys can do it together. Their in-car entertainment providing motivation for the other parkrunners. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear Jingle Bells all year round and train whistles while they run?
I am so grateful to Sarah Fitch for getting the Felixstowe run off the ground, I can remember overhearing Sarah talking to someone on a Tuesday club session and asking why Felixstowe didn’t have a parkrun? Thankfully for myself and many others, Sarah didn’t just accept that it didn’t and went ahead and started our own, so I am so thankful to everyone involved. I hope dragging the boys along every week will give them some motivation to get involved in running when they’re a bit older and can’t wait to take them to the junior run when there’s less risk of them being blown away.
When I do get down the front, without the buggy, these Saturday morning 5K’s have been a great opportunity to push myself and with the likes of Paul Osborne setting the pace it’s a great chance to do some real speed work. One of my proudest running achievements is my 19:55 parkrun dragged round by Ozzy’s pacing… sub 20 hasn’t been achieved again but I know in the right conditions I can get there…
Stowmarket Half marathon and Harwich half in the next couple of months, then hopefully some Friday fives and the summer 10K’s. I keep trying for London marathon so hopefully one day…and will keep pushing for the repeat of the parkrun sub 20 again!
Next month’s nomination
I will pass over to Paul Osborne my parkrun pacer, although he’s getting further and further into the distance these days….