Runner Profile: Justin Ostler

Thanks, Gary, for the nomination.

Early Years and Football, Flipping Football!

I grew up in a sporting family, Mum loved tennis and my stepfather was an ex-county and Town reserves footballer, my stepfather’s family including my stepbrother were obsessed with football, I grew up in the era of Ipswich Town under Sir Bobby so witnessed the FA and UEFA cup triumphs.

I was immersed in it all the time, my dad managed Claydon F.C. and me and friends use to sneak into Portman Road and watch the matches, I was brought up around the docks in Ipswich so on match day it wasn’t far to go to the football. I should have been a good player; I was not! I had two left feet as my dad used to say, so despite my family and friends’ best efforts in trying to get me interested in playing football they failed.

One thing I was good at though was sprinting; I was fast and used to regularly win the 75 and 100 metre races at sports day, this carried on until high school when my interest in all things sporty ended for a while.

I was tall even back then, which is great for a sprint but not so great when you are a target for bullies, the problem was always the flipping football, if you didn’t play there was something wrong with you which meant you became a target. I still got picked for the 100 and 200 metre races, but I did not have the drive to take running any further than sports day.

I did however discover God’s own sport – Rugby! Now this was something I could get into, I had the speed and carried a bit of weight in my giraffe-like frame, so found myself in the second row and occasionally on the wing. Funnily enough, when I started to sprint, the opposition bounced off quite satisfactorily.

This love of the game has stayed with me for life.

Fast forward to my mid-teens and we started to be tortured at school with this thing called cross-country. I will admit, I had a pop at it a couple of times, the best I could say about it was this, if you were fast enough, you could make it to the shops near the park before the teachers caught up, buy 10 B&H, sneak back to the start in time for setting off, then disappear into Bourne park to do your best Fag Ash Lil impression and be back for showers before you got caught.

I left school and trained as a butcher which was ok, but I wanted to get out into the world. At 17 I joined the RAF as a Gunner. Training was hard but I found that this running business was ok, it was all good until I damaged my right knee on exercise quite badly. I spent time in rehab and unfortunately was back-flighted a few times – any of you who have been in the forces know that those mates you make in training are important, losing them and recurring injury meant I gave up and left thoroughly depressed. I later went back joined the reserves and spent some time in the reserves.

My mid to late twenties were spent partying and generally being as unhealthy as possible. I spent a couple of summers working in Seville and Valencia, I remember watching the marathons and races with scorn and thinking sod that.

This Running business rears its head again

I met my wife Ali in my late twenties, her family are avid runners and around 2010 Ali started to pick up the mantle, once again cue scorn from me every time my proposed involvement was mentioned.

In 2012 Ali and a few others set-up Ipswich parkrun, it still took me until May 2013 to turn up and have a look. The first time I turned up I saw Peter Woods dressed as Princess Leia! (editor’s note – I’ve saved you from that picture!) Unbelievably with this image seared into my brain I still decided to return……two years later.

In 2015 I thought I would have another go; I had been told off by my doctors for drinking too much and needed to get fitter, hence a triumphant return to parkrun. 40 odd minutes of swearing and sweating later it was done and nobody had laughed at me, at least not that I noticed, Peter was dressed much more modestly, and I hadn’t ended up on a stretcher. So I carried on coming back, got quicker, joined FRR and made some of the best friends I have ever had.

4/6/16 (a date that will live in infamy)

This was the date that is burned into my brain, I decided to have a crack at the fabled sub-30 at Chantry, for this grand adventure I had recruited Dave Solomon, JJ and Woodsy……. I threw up on the course, and proceeded to pass out twice after the finish, I did it though, all three got me round in 29.58!!!

The vision of me arms draped over JJ and Woodsy with Solly checking his watch with a mischievous grin on his face, probably wasn’t the best advertisement for running.

I had finally arrived in the sub-30 club; I reckon I might be a runner now?

Favourite Races in Red


This was a tremendous achievement for me, FRR and fellow runners gave me terrific support, my friends followed me to the checkpoints and cheered me on, all was going great until I rolled my knee, yes that knee, in a field after the Nayland checkpoint. Now this is the thing; you can give up or dig in. I dug in, that mentality that is instilled in you in the armed forces sticks, just keep moving and think of the brew at the end.

Oh yeah, I beat Ali’s time from the preceding year as well so that was good, and the brew turned out to be a bottle of Broadside.

Twilight 10k 2019

This must be my favourite race wearing red so far, I achieved a PB and loved every minute of it, support is fantastic.

Martlesham 10k 2019

Torturing a very hungover Matt Makin round the course was fun, and flipping heck if he didn’t finish as well. See; there is strength in a pre-race Greggs sausage bap!

Cross Country

Despite the lack of irate teachers and no B&H in sight I do enjoy cross country this time around.


Brilliant event, just brilliant.


The pandemic has been a dark time for everyone, my cousin died from Motor Neurone Disease shortly after the pandemic hit, this took me to some dark places, but at the same time it showed me that life is there to be grabbed. I decided to start up Whitton not-parkrun with a few friends as a way of dealing with the stress of being restricted and to keep the social side of things alive.

It went ballistic, and I am proud of everyone who got involved and what they all achieved in keeping that social element going. To be honest I miss the Saturday morning meets and the banter over bacon and sausages at mine afterwards, but love the fact that parkrun is back.

The future

Let’s be honest about this, unless FRR starts competing in athletics or professional arm wrestling (I am quite good at that), I am not going to stand a chance of bringing any glory home for the club, I don’t think that matters though, FRR is and always has been in my mind about the love of running and the comradeship that brings, so thank you Reds.

I would like to have a crack at the London Marathon, I have been knocked back about 5 times now so chances in the hat-draw are increasing, besides if a bloke with a fridge on his back can do it, I might stand a chance of finishing as well.

In the first lockdown I managed to get my 5k time down to sub-26 mins, I would love to be able to get back to that level again.

My running is an integral part of my life now and so are the friendships that have been made.

So, if you see a stumbling, sweary long-legged idiot in a red top, chances are that is me, so give me a clap and I will meet you for a beer after the race, and I bet I will be complaining about that knee as well.

Next month’s nominee

My nomination for next month is the one, the only, the bearded one known as The Coalman…. Robert Kemp.

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