Runner Profile: Claire Butcher

Early years

Well I’m sorry, but unlike others, I do not have an interesting life, so I will try not to bore you. If I do send you to sleep then you can Blame Nic for nominating me 😂 I’ve lived in Felixstowe all my life. I have never been one for sport, way too energetic for me.

At school, I did as little sport as I could, only what I was made to. My mother made me do swimming lessons, still blame that for my fat legs. In PE I was good for the 100m sprint, any more than that and I was done for, no change there then 🤣🤣

Where it all began

I used to work at the Half Moon and one night I was “working”, said very loosely as I had one customer, so I was sat on my bum scrolling through Facebook and my friend T had posted how she’d signed up to run the Shoreditch 10k at the start of October 2017 and asked if anyone wanted to do it with her. Joking I said yeah why not, after a bit of chatting to her I messaged my Partner who was like 🤷‍♀️ I went home and after a half hour chat we had signed up, little did we know how much this free sport was going to cost us or where it would lead to!

Having not run since school I didn’t even really know where to start, to me 10k was nothing – I could do this surely! My god I never knew I could be so wrong. I bought the same trainers T had and off I went, I couldn’t even do a mile. I had 6 weeks to learn to run and make it 10k, the truth of what I had just signed up for hit me hard, it was only then that I changed 10k to miles and learnt the truth.

Struggling with it T recommended we go to parkrun, I had never heard of this so followed her lead and we met her in Kesgrave. I made it round with a lot of walking and died at the end. I remember my dad calling me and listening to me trying to breathe and coughing my guts up, he told me I shouldn’t do it again 😆

Ever the stubborn one I didn’t listen and continued to try. We started the couch to 5k, but I didn’t get on with it as found it was making me walk when I felt I could still run so I stopped that and used markers like the Leisure centre and the Spa instead. Andy is quicker than me and struggled to keep my pace so was always ahead of me and I soon learnt that this actually helped. When I had to walk I found that I was walking faster and less as I could see him getting further and further away and I needed to keep up, well shorten the distance!

October soon came about, we boarded the train to London, checked in to the hotel and made our way over to the start line so we knew where to go and see it all being set up. I was so excited, my first ever race and there was so much going on and to see already, let alone the following morning when we had Tom Daley setting us all off.

I slept OK considering, but by the time we were dressed and down for breakfast the nerves had hit me big time. I couldn’t manage the food, I kept looking at the other runners in the hotel thinking how much faster they looked and I was going to be the last one.

We set off and the support was amazing, I still had to walk through it in places, but I finished and I wasn’t last. Timed in at 1:11:39.

I was so happy that we signed up to the winter run at the start of Feb 2018. A little more training and the day soon came around. We had already decided to just enjoy the day, there were 22,000 runners and it was freezing cold, so not the day for a PB. I started with Andy and T, but being faster they soon left me for dust, so I took in the sights and took selfies with the people dressed up as penguins and yetis and crossed the finish line happy, even more so when I saw my time was 1:08:52, I had managed a PB while stopping for pictures and not dying at the end. 

Joining FFR

I’m not really sure how we found out about the club, my memory is awful.

I do remember that our first ever session we had come along for a tester and it was Peter taking that session, he took us off to Old Felixstowe to run loops, which we later learnt spelt out PW.

The guys and girls were amazing, chatting away to us and making sure we knew what we were doing and were OK.

We had no doubt and joined as soon as we got home.

We did a few races through 2018 and training nights pushed us well.

Sarah Fitch asked us to join her and a few others to run the new parkrun route and give feedback, which was good fun and a great memory. An honour to be a part of.

Unfortunately for us, we decided to not renew our membership with the club for a few reasons, but in 2021 after talking to Daniela, Jackie and Kirsty I decided to give it another go and I am glad I did.

Once again the welcome and support was amazing.

Carrie full of smiles as always just like in 2018 made sure I was ok and felt welcome and one that has always stood out I have to say is Ozzy, a man I didn’t know but introduced himself to me and cheers me at every step, even picking on me (sorry encouraging me) on one of the training sessions and pushing me until I wanted to be sick.

Being a part of the FRR family has changed races for me, when it is just you randoms saying well done as you’re going it is not the same as seeing the smiling, encouraging faces of your club and the start and the end, even if at the end there are only a handful. 

The longer runs

My first half marathon was the Norwich half. Again Andy and T ran this with me, well ahead of me, you get used to this being a slow runner.

We did it to raise money for McMillian Cancer and as glad as I am that I did it this was the worst run of my life and one never to be repeated.

The hill at mile 11 was just ridiculous, bent hill on steroids, you end at the showground where you then have to run around the ground with all the finished runners and their families walking across the track in front of you and I crossed the line with no breath left, I was left on the floor head in legs with nothing in me panting for breath, leaving my friend and partner worried, but it was done and the money raised and well I’m still here so I guess not all bad. 

The marathons

Well I’m not totally sure how this all started but in 2018 T (this is not a code name by the way, I’m just lazy and she has been reduced to one letter) signed up to run her first marathon in Hungary.

We went over to surprise her and support her journey (signing up for the 10k while we were there) and it was all just amazing. I loved the idea of it, but thought no way I could do that.

In 2019, after much thought we decided we would do it. We got a no from London so looked what was about and decided on Barcelona.

Working with Jackie at the time, we spoke loads about it and I was so excited when she told me that she and Richard had also signed up.

Andy got injured and had to back out, but that was OK, I still had Jackie.

In 2020 I had the best long run of my life, 17 miles, 13 of it without stopping for the first time since I started running, I was over the moon. An hour later for that to become one of the most heart-breaking days of my life, when I found out that my friend was terminal with days to live. We lost him two days later.

Barcelona became more important to me than ever. I decided to raise money in his honour for St Elizabeth’s hospice so when it all got cancelled due to covid I was gutted.

On the 15th March 2020 when I should have been running in Barcelona I put on my trainers, filled my vest and decided I would do it anyway, just me in Costa del Felixstowe, regardless of no support or water stations I went it alone. I never told anyone other than Andy as I was terrified that I wouldn’t make it, but I did and I have never felt so proud, but strangely disappointed that I had not done what I promised for the people who donated.

Come 2021 and I signed up for Manchester Marathon as travelling abroad was still a little uncertain so this seemed like the one to choose.

T signed up as well so I knew I had someone there I would know and do a couple of training runs with, but my main support for training came from Doranne and Kirsty who joined me on most of my runs and for that I am so grateful.

I completed Manchester on the 03.04.22 in 05:22:28 giving me a 14 minute PB on running it alone. 

In Feb, still feeling like I had not completed what I had been sponsored for, even with Manchester on the cards, I signed up for Barcelona Marathon.

This was exciting and terrifying all at once. I wanted to get out there and complete my challenge, but I also knew it was only a month after Manchester and being in May I knew it would be hot and I’m not great in the heat.

The pre-event was amazing, so much going on with the Elite runners there for pictures as well and the build-up in the morning got everyone ready.

Once we were off it was great, but about a mile in I needed a wee, never in my time of running has this happened, but I put it down to only going once beforehand rather than my normal 20 as there were 10 loos for 22,000 people, so as soon as I got to 10k I queued up and off I went again.

Time wise I felt the first half went well as if I was on track even though in my head it felt like I had been running forever and like I should have been further in. After that it went downhill fast.

The heat was so much, the bottom of my left foot was in pain meaning that I changed my running style causing pain in the top of my left foot. By 28k I had to go to the pharmacy for painkillers and at €6 a pack I’m framing them.

The last 10k was hell, no shade, just full on 29 degrees heat and I couldn’t even run a mile without stopping, the pain was real. I finished in 05:38:06. Not the best time but I was just happy to finish, complete what I had promised and get in the pool. 

What’s next

I have Twilight 10k in a couple of weeks, but the next big one is back to Manchester to see if I can do better.

I would not normally repeat a big one (said like I’ve done so many 😜) but due to a few of the road runners doing it next year I thought why not. I will regret this in December when training starts I’m sure, but maybe not as much as Doranne and Kirsty 🤣🤣

Next month’s nominee

Over to you, Amanda Kemp

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