18 May In the Spotlight – Emma Shumack Healy

When did running begin for you?

Like all great ideas it began in the pub! Sometime in 2015, on a Saturday night out with friends, two of us decided it would be a good idea to try and get fit. I’ve always enjoyed being active having horses growing up, swimming and doing circuit training etc., but running is something I’ve always found so difficult. Like thousands of other people, for years I’ve watched the London Marathon and spectated at the Cardiff Half in awe of all those being able to run, each year saying I’m going to do that next year.

Sian and I met up Monday evening to commence our Couch-to-10k in torrential rain and hailstones lol. Not a great start but we we survived and more importantly had a great laugh. When we started, our main intention was to simply run for fun and we would absolutely NOT enter any races.  Each run we went out on always seemed to be eventful, we rescued animals, got lost, pushed broken down cars in the middle of Cardiff and laughed until we cried.  As we started to run a bit further I spotted an advert for the Cardiff 10k and in my usual encouraging manner managed to talk Sian into it, after all it would be as shame to put our training to waste.  We completed the 10k with photo stops, chats and everything in between and it’s safe to say that on a very hot day it wasn’t my best performance….but we did it.

Why do you run?

Because I can! I love being out in the fresh air and the weather doesn’t bother me, I’d much prefer running in the cold than the hot sun; that Lanzarote trip is a killer! The social side of it, I enjoy all the company of a running club, have made lovely friends and lots of memories in the short time (3 years) I’ve been with P&D. Without a doubt my favourite night has to be the ‘Nellins run‘ on a Wednesday, missing that so much right now. Although I never thought I’d say it, I also enjoy going out on my own or with my four-legged running buddy, my dog Bella.

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

I don’t have a huge running portfolio like lots in the club as I’ve not been running for that long in comparison, but I do have a few experiences that do mean a lot to me personally.

Cardiff Half Marathon 2015 

The Cardiff 1/2 Marathon released an additional 500 places a few weeks before the event, great!!  All we had to do was double our distance in 3 weeks to complete our first ever half, so enter we did.

Rewind to a few months earlier to March 2015.  A friend’s son was murdered in the most horrific and unprovoked attack, he was just 18 years old.   Her family received a tremendous amount of support from the charity ‘2 wish upon a star‘.

There is nothing to make you even more determined to do something than doing it to help others and raise much-needed funds for a small local charity, who are there in the most difficult time. We decided to raise money in memory of Conner.

What a day!  The build up, nerves and pressure to get donations, it was fantastic.  The crowds, high-fiving children, photos, it was all just an incredible experience.  My husband Gerald and our children Christian and Erin and other family and friends at various points around the course, never a worry about times, just get over that line. The feeling crossing that line was like nothing else, Conner’s parents were there, we were all in floods of tears, we’d done it and raised over £900…..so proud.

The next year we took part in the World Championship Half Marathon, awful weather, bitterly cold and sadly this proved to be the last race and run Sian would be with me for a while, as she developed a back problem, which ended in surgery.  The ‘dynamic duo’ were on stop for a while.

Vale Coastal 18 mile April 2017 & 2018

Another race that I thought be amazing to do, before I was a ‘runner’.  No way I was up to the whole 32 miles so signed up for the 18.  Accompanied by two friends, a fabulous day in beautiful weather, what’s not to like? A massive sense of achievement, although a slight planning mistake on my part saw me having to get up the following day to run the Cardiff Bay 10k, how i did that i don’t know! The following year was a different story weather-wise, we were soaked before we even got out of Porthkerry Park, awful conditions all the way around, but not finishing was never an option though.  After Cardiff Half this was the longest distance I’d run.  I used this as my long training run for my next race. I absolutely loved every minute of it, even wading through calf deep water….you had to see the funny side!

Inaugural Newport Marathon 2018

Yep, Newport! What can I say, my first ever Marathon and the furthest I’d ever run in my life.  If anyone had told me a few years ago, me of all people would run a marathon, I would have laughed in their face. I ran with Nigel Adams who helped me with training runs and scared the living daylights out of me on the day at the 13-mile mark with his louder than loud rendition of Bon Jovi’s “woah, we’re half way there”. Fabulous to see some friends at Magor and Trish & Peter Cottnam at about mile 21.  I was over the moon to finish and even happier that I’d managed to complete in one piece and actually felt fine…..bonus!

Vale coastal ultra Marathon (32miles) 2019.

Since I’d surprised myself in completing a Marathon, I knew this was achievable. Running with my mate Adams again and Steve New. A brilliant experience, super scenery, perfect weather and easier for me than slogging it out on miles of concrete. My super family support at the end and taxi driver. When you are being driven home you realise how far you’ve actually run.

My favourite:  New York Marathon 2019

Did I tell you about it? Lol Ten years ago my brother who lives in New York got married. It was my first visit to the city and it was at the time of getting ready for the Marathon, flags and posters adorned lamp posts and buildings, there was that thought again ‘Imagine running that Marathon?” I didn’t even run at that time! I entered the 2018 ballot, no surprise got rejected. Tried 2019 and only by chance checked my junk mail, I was only IN. First feelings excitement, disbelief and shock, then panic ha ha was I actually going to do this? Too late, paid.
1st November, my birthday. A ballot entry with my race entry got me in the ‘Parade of Nations” Marching with all the other countries at the opening ceremony. Me and my inflatable daffodil proud as punch on live T.V. Huge thanks goes to Lisa Cleary for the daffodil tip, bloody awesome.

Race day

Barely any sleep from nerves and the excitement, it was an early wake up to catch the bus to the start.  I boarded the bus leaving my family and all of a sudden felt very small, very alone and it was all so daunting. An hour later get to race village, have a word with myself, shake off those nerves, set up ‘camp’ and chat to anyone. Into the corrals and a few minute walk to the start, it was all so busy and big compared to other races I’d done. National anthem was sung, along came the tears, I was only running the New York Marathon!! Start cannon fires, I’m off.

Another bonus I’m on the top level of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, great views. Photo opportunities galore, I’m having the best time. Dancing with all the bands in the streets, the crowds then my family and that huge daffodil are at mile 15, tears again.

Thousands are all along the route, it’s a must to have your name on your shirt and the shout outs are the best.  My Welsh flag t shirt got loads of attention and I met a few Welsh people along the way and some who actually went on tour with the Old Penarthians Rugby Club, it’s a small world. Approaching Central Park and there’s that daffodil again, amazing. Through Central Park towards the finish line, absolutely best feeling in the whole world, I’d done it, more tears!

After receiving my appropriately, apple-shaped medal a long walk to exit the park in my poncho.  Such a funny sight seeing everyone walking in their ponchos. I don’t think I will be running Newport again after this one.

Who is your running inspiration?

I guess my only answer to this one is all you lovely lot. When I hear of all the races you have done, the speed and times you are able to run in really is inspiring. I suppose I also take inspiration from some of the things I’ve managed to accomplish which I never believed I could do.

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

Enjoy it, have fun and try to join a club, it’s the best decision I made.  Getting the miles in is better than trying to run fast. If you are running a Marathon when you get to 1/2 way start to count the miles down, it really helps.

What’s next?

When things settle down, whenever that may be, I will be running the London Marathon as I was fortunate to get a charity place.  My luck with ballot places continued with places for Snowdon and the Great North Run so they are on my to do list whenever we are able to participate in large events again. I’d love to do another ultra marathon. I am also hoping to be able to return to Lanzarote, our annual club weekend or indeed anywhere that’ll have us!!

Special thanks.

Without the patience of Christopher Nellins and Yvonne Williams I don’t think I would have persevered with my running. Their encouragement, help and ‘looping’ (sorry everyone) has been greatly appreciated. Last year I managed to get PBs in my 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon and whilst I’m never going to win awards and races, my reward is being able to get over a finish line and be part of a fantastic club.  I must also mention my family who have been amazing, they have given up holidays and spent many days ‘hanging about’ amongst runners.


Who would you like to nominate?

Since she persuaded me to come along to club and it’s because of her I joined, although she’s not going to like me for it, it’s only fair that I nominate my roomie, Kath Petersen.

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