We catch up with our fantastic supporter Alan Whitby who is running the Great Welsh Marathon for Cobalt on Sunday 15 April. The race is the oldest running marathon In Wales. Alan’s race will take him along the picturesque coast of Llanelli. Alan will get to run along the Millennium Coastal Path which overlooks Llanelli Beach taking in a mix of coastline and woodland, the Loughlan Estuary and Gower Peninsula, North Dock and Machynys. Upon finishing he’ll be looking forward to receiving his bespoke t-shirt and medal and a well-earned rest we imagine!
Here Alan tells us a little more about himself, how he heard about Cobalt and why he decided to support us.
Living locally, I have known about Cobalt for some years and have supported you previously. For my marathon, I wanted to support a relatively local charity and whilst I have never been a patient, various family members and friends have been treated in Cheltenham.
I’m 62 years old, will have been married for 40 years in April and have three grown up children. I worked for the Engineering office of Allen Gears, a manufacturer of gearboxes in Pershore for 23 years, until I retired in August 2017. As well as keeping myself fit, my wife and I keep an allotment where we grow much of our own food. I also have classic cars, a classic motorbike and a number of old stationary engines, regularly taken to classic shows.
What inspired you to run the marathon and why Wales?
Firstly, I should start by saying that I am, by all means no athlete but I’ve always enjoyed running and have kept a good level of fitness over the years. I ran my first half marathon in Tewkesbury back in 2004 and have since entered numerous events from 5K up to half marathon. Highlight half marathons include the Great North Run, the Severn Bridge HM and Worcester City HM, where I won my age category in 2017.
I had always said that I wouldn’t run a full marathon because of the time commitment and level of training required. However, having retired in August 2017, I have been able to spend more time on my fitness, which I really enjoy, and realized that this was an ideal opportunity to run a marathon for the first time.
As for the Wales connection; I am Welsh by birth, coming from Rhayader, in mid-Wales. I just happened to see a picture of the finisher’s medal for the Great Welsh Marathon on Instagram and decided that I would like to have one of those to add to my ‘bling’ collection!
What time you are aiming for or if you just plan on getting round the course?
It may sound ambitious to some but, based on my half marathon times, I am aiming to complete my first full marathon in four hours. First priority is obviously to finish but if my time is 3 hours 59 minutes, I shall be very pleased. Anything better would be a bonus.
Do you run to music at all and if so, what’s your favourite playlist?
I never listen to music when running. I find running for me is a ‘quiet time’ when I can settle into a rhythm and get lost in my own thought. It’s quite therapeutic.
What’s in your kit bag? Any ‘old faithfuls’ or pieces of equipment or kit you swear by?
I would have to say, my foam roller and my prickle balls. I joined a class, a couple of years ago, to learn how to use these items properly and I now regularly self-massage my legs following exercise.
Your favourite post run snack
Post-run I can eat almost anything! What I usually have first is a banana or some of my wife, Sally’s, home made flap-jack.
How the training has changed your routine or lifestyle or have you always been into fitness?
I have always had a regular fitness routine but since retirement I have been able to devote the additional time required to train for a marathon. I still go to my weekly Pilates and trigger point Pilates classes, as well as attending regular gym sessions. The main change is the increasing time necessary for the longer training runs. This week, for example, I ran 20 miles in just under three hours.
As well as the training, I believe it is equally important to build rest days into my routine. A long run is always followed by a rest day, to allow the body to recover and to reduce the risk of injury.
My lifestyle is generally pretty healthy but I am conscious that I need to eat enough ‘fuel’ to power me through my marathon training.
Do you attend any local park runs?
I joined my local Tewkesbury Parkrun in the summer of 2017. They are such a friendly, welcoming group that I wish I had done so earlier. As well as running, I also volunteer on occasions, which I really enjoy.
When travelling in different parts of the country, I also like to do a bit of Parkrun tourism, if possible.
To support Alan, please visit his Just Giving Page and give what you can. Thank you.