10 Aug In the Spotlight – Debbie Warburton

When did running begin for you?

I’m a ‘lifer’ as far as running is concerned! Started in 1979..(…eek) in School Athletics team, but I was gutted to come 3rd in my first XC race for the school, having won all the shorter track stuff. I decided to join a club after that but the closest was Abertillery AC, which was a 2 mile walk and 20 min bus ride away and it was up to me to get there after school (parents working and 2 younger brothers to look after). Being a completely different era, whenever I missed the bus (quite frequently) I would hitchhike up to Abertillery- aged 13!!

I went on to compete in many inter-club meets, mainly at Cwmbran Stadium in sprints and relay. I did also get my one and only Welsh vest as a Junior in XC, but had an awful race – running about half of it with one shoe (the other got stuck in the mud and I went home without it, only to get it posted to me about 2 weeks later by the organisers!)

Whilst I am a running lifer, I am by no means a racing lifer and have a bit of a love / hate relationship with racing.

I went on to play county netball at college and ran for fitness for that. When I started working in Newport, I met the lovely Julia and Chris Davies of Lliswerry Runners (..and now parkrun) and they encouraged me to join- there were only half a dozen women members at the time! I ran in their XC team but didn’t enter many other races.

It was only when I moved jobs and home to Chepstow in 1994 and started training longer distances with Chepstow Harriers did I think about entering races again. My first half was the Great North Run, which I did in 1:43 and first Marathon (London) in 3.32, which got me GFA. I found I enjoyed the process of training for a longer race.

I moved to Penarth in 2002 and joined P&D (my 4th club!) and it’s been a great place to meet friends (and one in particular 🤣🤣🤣) I was also to dust off my marathon shoes  in 2014 after a gap of 12 years to run with that particular friend (yep, you guessed it – Warby) and we have each run 10 since, attempting to complete the Six Marathon Majors (inspired by Lisa Cleary no less!) but so far only managing 4 so far (London, Berlin, Boston and Chicago).

Why do you run?

To keep fit primarily, and I am quite competitive when I am in race mode, so that drives me to be the best I can be against the goals I have set myself.

What race or moment in your running career holds the most significance and why?

So many, but have limited to FOUR (sorry), two for sentimental reasons, two for achievement:

  • London Marathon 2002 – my Marathon PB (3:20)- everything just went right!
  • Newport Half 2014 – I ran with Andrew Frayling for the first few miles and managed to hang on to finish 4th lady overall in 1:33. (Not a PB but a more difficult course than Cardiff Half where I did PB)
  • Forest of Dean Half 2013, because of two things 1) I was on the comeback trail following my first foot operation and 2) it was lurve! That’s where it all started for me and Warby!
  • Marathon du Medoc 2018 – yes, you were right Simon! Our wedding celebration run with hubby and friends. This was just one big party , food, wine, sun and great company. I particularly enjoyed the oysters and head banging with the live band at around mile 20!!

Who is your running inspiration?

Paula Radcliffe. I went to watch the Athens Olympics in 2004 (my daughter Jazz was 3 months old and needed a ticket to get into the stadium!!!) and was devastated watching her pull out of the track events and marathon.

Malcolm, Chris Nellins and Warby inspire me closer to home- I have seen these three literally on their knees after putting in a monumental effort in a race 👏👏👏

What event, past or present, would you like to take part in and why?

Finishing the 6 Major Marathons (New York and Tokyo left) but tearing my plantar plate last March whilst training for the London Marathon was a major setback and since having the operation to sew it all back together and correct my gait in October, it’s taken longer to recover from than anticipated. So I’m not sure Marathon running will be on the cards anytime soon because of this (let alone Covid) Warby is injured a lot too and I wouldn’t do them without him ❤️

What golden piece of advice would you give to other runners?

Consistency is key. Set a goal and put in the work. It usually pays off.

What’s next?

I’m not an avid racer like some, but I have promised to revisit XC (and use my brand new spikes that Ian bought for my birthday about 4 years ago!!) following the very off putting #Brecongate XC several years ago….

Who would you like to nominate?

My lovely mate Cath Tailby!

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