Runner Profile: Luke Whitwell

Firstly many thanks to Adrian Goode for the nomination last month, having managing to dodge this for over 10 years as a Felixstowe Road Runners Member.

I was lucky enough to be born into the life of the countryside, and a hard working family that loved to be outdoors. Any excuse we would be out on our bikes, days at the beach, rowing boats at Thorpeness, or anything that involved being out of the house to be honest. I spent my whole childhood in the garden and that has moulded my life into being an adult.

I loved sport at school and remember wishing lessons away waiting for PE to start. I always wanted to try and get into the school teams and saw that as a real challenge. Running was always my thing at school – I was quite small and fast, short distance was always my speciality and Cross Country was my favourite. I always did quite well in running events but when I was 11 or 12 I developed an obsession with football and pursued a dream of playing in goal and being like Peter Schmeichel. Not too sure where that came from to be honest.

During the years of playing football running definitely was NOT on the radar, quite the opposite and it wasn’t until I finished playing for HADLEIGH UNITED that I got back into it aged 26. Family circumstances at the time meant I stopped playing football quite early, I had buried myself into work and a slippery slope of partying with mates in what little spare time I had outside of that. I remember going for a 1 mile run one day and struggling to even run. Luckily I was living with a good mate who was very motivated and had a childhood just like mine…. He bought a single speed bike one day and brought it back to the house. That was the turning point for me…. I bought one myself and we began riding most days.

Things just evolved from there and I reconnected with our good friend Daniel Gould aka Shabba. Shabba invited me out riding and on our early epic bike tours. 1000s of miles B&B hopping across the English Countryside with Dazza and Victor Brooks, it was a great outlet from work, time with good friends challenging myself in a new way, great for the body and mind.

I just threw myself into it all 100%, entered a triathlon in Braintree thanks to Shabba followed by Ironman Nice in 2013. Multiple events followed, Edinburgh Marathon, London Marathon, more Ironman events and the wonderful SVP100.

I ran the first ever SVP100 back in 2013 (despite Mark Goodwin’s constant mockery that I’ve never done it) someone sent me the link to it and I only entered as it fell on what would have been my mums birthday in September. I thought I would run it and have a day on my own to reflect and remember her. It was the hardest thing I’d done, 100km of running from Newmarket to Brantham…. I loved it but swore never again.

The following year they brought the race forward a month to improve the conditions. It weirdly fell on the anniversary of her passing away in the August. So for some reason this lured me back, and some club members started to flock to the start line with me. Another day of reflection and remembering my mum, once again one of the hardest things I’d done, I loved it but swore never again.

The following year they announce the illustrious 3 times finisher BLACK TSHIRT. So I go back once again and set a challenge to try and be the first person to get it. It was grim out there for me that day, but the thought of my mum and another great day of reflection drove me to the finish line to grab that black tshirt.

I’ve said NEVER AGAIN after all 5 finishes but still found myself there on the start line in 2022. Having not trained for the race, Matt the RD announced he was going to run for the first time in memory of his mum who he had also lost to cancer. I entered the week before as I felt I wanted to be on the start line for my own personal reasons and to be a part of the 10th anniversary. This was my first DNF. One that I’m not ashamed of as I wanted to be a part of the day.

I’m sure I’ll be back on the start line of SVP100 again in the future, maybe even next year. It can’t finish on a DNF after all can it 🙂

Since becoming a Dad things have changed a little, all for the better of course, and I’m very lucky to have a supportive wife who lets me continue to pursue my athletic amateur dreams. I have really enjoyed a year of trying to get some speed back in the legs after becoming so “fat and slow” according to Gary Taylor 🙂

Running with the buggy at Felixstowe Parkrun has been a great challenge to get my teeth into. An ever growing child and the pursuit of Sub 19 continues…. Bearing in mind when I started running with the buggy sub 20 was the goal, I just checked to see how that’s going and have realised that 18 of the 26 parkruns I’ve done at Felixstowe have been sub 20. Hopefully I’ll tick the sub 19 box soon.

Years of being grilled for being towed by Graci the dog at Ipswich Parkrun, being branded a “cheat” for the assistance the dog was giving me, always humours me…. Surely I don’t have that benefit these days pushing the buggy…. Although I was asked on Saturday if it has a battery 😂😂😂 Which it doesn’t btw.

Lastly when I mention Graci the dog, running with her and the miles we have shared has been my favourite thing about running. She turns 12 in January and last Sunday we did a 10 miler with Gripper and Sam Toy. She’s going strong still with over 12,000 miles in her legs to date. Her longest run is 36 miles and fastest 5km dragging me around is 16.11. An amazing beast she has been. She even took me round Ipswich Parkrun route blindfolded one day at the event that Jo Whelan organised. I was blindfolded…. Not her 🙂

We all have our reasons for running and keeping fit. It’s good for the body and mind. This year more than ever, running has helped me, it’s definitely my coping mechanism as I’m sure it is for many others.

Being part of Felixstowe Road Runners is very special, losing club members and seeing how the club has come together as one big family is something we should all be proud of. The generosity, support and kindness I have seen people show to one another is unbelievable.

A special club that is full of special people.

This month I’d like to nominate Daniel Gould (Shabba) for his runner profile – that he’s dodged for as long as I did!

Thanks all 🙂


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