Runner Profile: Ali Ostler

Runner profile Ali Ostler

Happy June everybody, except Matt who stitched me up nominated me last month ;)

How I got into running

I started running, sort of, in about 2011. I can’t actually remember why; growing up my entire family were runners (Dad was FRR chairman, Mum was and still is a member) but I was crap at it and apart from the odd fun run attached to a race, Felixstowe Rotary fun run (and a particularly horrible memory of the 1500m at school) I never did any. And even those were probably under duress. I was rubbish at all sports and only really enjoyed gymnastics and ballet.

All of a sudden, having done almost nothing that could count as exercise for my entire adult life, I decided it was a good idea and began doing a 2.5 mile route from home, getting a little further each time before walking. There was a 4k fun run attached to the old old Ipswich half marathon which I entered, and struggled with (I had to walk) but I felt *so* silly doing the fun run at my age and wanted to be like all the Proper Runners doing the half. I also seriously doubted I’d ever be able to run *that* far. So I entered a Southwold 10k in November 2011, went up with Mum and both sisters (all Proper Runners) and ran almost all of it very slowly, and liked it.

Then I barely ran for weeks, can’t remember why. An old school friend training for London invited me up for the East Retford Rugby Club Half Marathon and pointed out I’d run 10k so I just needed to add a mile a week. Sounded reasonable. OMG we had no idea what we’d entered – a proper club race! Everyone in singlets and shorts and headbands and keen as mustard and nobody but us finding Penistone A.C. funny (probably because, being local, they saw the whole word and not the sum of its, er, parts). I wanted under 2-and-a-half hours, got 2:29.30 and said to myself that I had done a half, and I would never, ever, ever have to do one ever again. As for those nutters doing A Whole Marathon… hahahaha!

5k seemed a sensible distance. I read about parkrun on the Runner’s World forums and thought “ooo, I’ll go and do that on Saturday!” only to find that the nearest ones were Bedford and Norwich. There was a little link on the webpage that said “start your own parkrun”. I clicked on it. The rest is known!

Donning the iconic Red Vest

Robin will be aghast, but I can’t actually remember when I joined. I looked around for a club, Jaffa was closest but FRR was my family’s club and sounded nice. Turns out everyone was nice but also barking so I felt right at home. I went to watch the London marathon on the coach with everybody in 2013 and it actually looked awesome. I wondered if I could ever run one myself and so pretended to train for one to see if it was possible. I loved the long runs this time and when I got to 20 miles it was a pity to waste the training and so I looked for a marathon to enter. Christina posted the Stort 30 ultra on Facebook and it lit a small but smouldering fire. I entered and loved every second. This would never have happened without FRR.

Favourite races

Endure 24 in Reading is a wonderful race, although I haven’t done it for a couple of years. That’s the site of my longest ever run, 70 miles. The day after, trying to come home on the train, I could barely move but I was so happy. STF24 2018 out at Bury in was awesome too, partly because I won the female 24hr race which is something that I never thought would happen, and won’t again.

The 36th Gatliff Marathon was absolutely brilliant and I loved it. A self-navigated 50k race (which is never actually 50k – I clocked about 35 miles) through the muddiest mud I have ever encountered, mostly on my own, requiring a 4am start from home for a 7am race start. One checkpoint is just called “lunch”. My socks fell apart and I borrowed some off a stranger. My shoes have never recovered. I have never taken so long to run a distance race that I actually finished (11.5 hours!). I am eternally grateful to Peter for telling me about it, driving us there and back, waiting for hours and meeting me at the end with a cup of tea.

Rotary Heritage Coast marathon is my absolute favourite race. It has so much variety in the course, it’s proper low-key and the marshals are all over eighty and ply you with orange squash and biscuits at multiple checkpoints. And there are pubs en route. I first ran it with Keith Borrett, Peter Woods, Jen Devaney and Liz Beighton and I have literally never laughed so hard during a race as we did then.

Worst race

Hands down, London Marathon 2014. It was my first marathon but as I’d done Stort 30 the previous October I ought to have been fine. Instead I set off well, had visions of sub-5 and up until about 15 miles I was on for it. Then I felt tired, then exhausted, my ITB at my knee started to hurt and by 19 miles I was walking. I walked the rest, tried to leave the course with 400m to go because I didn’t think I deserved to finish (it’s not possible to leave the course there!) and just hated it. Then I was very late for the coach and search parties had gone out!

King’s Forest Trail 50k 2019 has got to be a close second. I was shaping up for a 50k PB but hit the wall at 22miles. It had been raining the whole day, I was then cold and wet and could barely walk. I made it to the end of the second lap for marathon distance by the skin of my teeth and staggered into the café for Angela and co to mop up .

What next?

I want to finish a 100k. Just once.

This year was shaping up to be a good one; I got a PB at the Benfleet 15 despite the mud and losing a shoe. I got my second-fastest ever half marathon time at Gt. Bentley despite the wind, squeaked a 20 mile PB at Tarpley despite the wind (remember the wind early this year? Seems a lifetime ago) and was pulled out of the hat for a London Marathon club place so was looking forward to aiming for sub-5. I am, as I type, supposed to be running the Myvatn Marathon in north Iceland which would have been my 37th marathon or ultra (not counting 24 hour races). Instead, it’s been five months since I ran a marathon, the world has gone mad and I’m getting fed up of running from my front door.

Next month’s nominee

Oooo, so many people have said “don’t you dare!” Which one of them should I pick? Problem is, I know most of their running stories, so I’m going to nominate Joanne Harper 😊

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