02 Nov In the Spotlight – Ian Warburton

I have been nominated by Colin as the next “In the Spotlight” candidate so for all the fact that I have been present a bit more rarely of late than has been the case of the previous years, only too happy to wade in….

When did running begin for you?

Well I’ve always considered myself a triumph of looking like I can run over actual talent, but in truth, most of my adult life I had no intention of running.

I was a late starter to running being a massively lazy individual; played a lot of racket sports in my youth and was often accused of not trying that hard. In my thirties after a few years of not participating in anything that would raise my pulse above ‘definitely living but may be hibernating’, I went along with a few of my mates who did circuit training and from there the rot set in! I started to develop that runners’ masochism of trying hard at something one would find difficult to describe as fun, or even justify. The next bad sign was using expressions like “if it was easy, I wouldn’t be doing it” and the ever-present “it’s a challenge”. Even before I had started running (other than rapidly around a hall), it was too late, the Zamo (for anyone older enough to remember Grange Hill) moment had passed and running was inevitable. I knew a few people who ran and my running journey started…

My first race encompassed quite neatly what running is about. It was a Charity 5k for Ty Hafan (so in a good cause) in Barry, a bit of an out (downhill) and back (not downhill). Went OK, ran it in 23 mins, had no idea if that was good or bad, had shampoo and conditioner in the goody bag (taking the piss!). And I had a medal, my first one ever; realising the opportunity for bling as a gangster rapper was somewhat limited, I decided to fling open the door of running bling opportunity and jog heroically through.

Why do I run?

Well, as Colin said in his story, it is good for my mental health. I (think) I am reasonably well-grounded, do not have any particular mental health issues and generally am an optimistic and positive person. I think running has brought me to this point. It has helped re-enforce that a person even as lazy as me can take up a challenge to an extent that I have finished up in medical tents and casualty (I never said I had good judgement) because I wouldn’t back down from what I wanted to achieve.

I also like the shared experience all of us runners go through, some are quicker than others, good on you and well done; some run for longer, good on you too and well done again. I have taken a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction in how well my club-mates have done and appreciate both the commonality and differences in how we all face the challenge. Just one other point here if I may, I joined the Club in a time of flux in my life, and the inclusivity and warmth of the club members was fantastic; everybody wants to beat everyone else and tries bloody hard to achieve this, but no-one begrudges the success of others as, where I have been running, in the middle of the pack, essentially one is running against oneself, preferably with Steve Goodfellow behind me mind ;-). The Club impacted me to the extent that at one point I was leading more sessions than anyone else, became a qualified coach, organised training etc. I was doing this because of what I had gained as a member of the club and as a means of giving something back. It so happens this experience has also been a huge positive; I have never wanted to be the focus of attention or lead anything, it’s just not me, but after having taking up that responsibility out of choice has again brought a level of self-knowledge to bear of which I was unaware.

The really short answer of why do I run is I think it is healthy to take things seriously but to be able to not take oneself too seriously, I think my running photos highlight this perfectly, I’m trying really hard but look like a buffoon….

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

This is really difficult so I am going to cheat and muse over a few:

Marathon du Medoc was the best running experience of my life…if one can forget about the actual running bit; the occasion, the amazing event itself and people I was with made this an unforgettable and unrepeatable experience. Thanks to all that came with me and Deb, my wife of just a few days at that point.

As a little taster we did a fancy dress parkrun with a few P&Ders as you can see…

Boston Marathon (photo above) because I never thought I would be good enough to qualify. I had known about the event since my teens and if my 20yr old lazy non-runner self could have looked into the future and seen me competing as a 50yo in this race, the bemusement would have been something to see. We ran this the year after the bombing and the atmosphere was electric. Boston just stops for the marathon, people were coming up to Deb and I all weekend to ask how I did and tell me their stories, often relatives who ran etc, it was immense. I kissed a few girls from Wellesley college as is customary although I think I was a bit enthusiast and overcome with bonhomie as I seem to remember kissing a marshal which I don’t think she was expecting. Deb and I had tee-shirts printed with our names on, mine proudly displaying Warbie and the welsh flag. This was fab for a bit (although I had to respond to what’s a Warbie a number of times) but as I had gone into the race with an injured calf, my limp became more and more pronounced as the miles rolled by. From actually looping back to high five children (and Wellesley women) it just became too painful to even respond to people shouting Warbie. I started to run in the middle of the pack so people couldn’t see my tee-shirt, was just broken by the end. First medical tent experience for me at the finish. Took me so long to finish, I had never run for 4:30 before so hadn’t trained for anything like the experience, but I will always remember the whole thing as hugely rewarding, as I was told by Andrea Hurman, ‘you’ve won just by qualifying’. I’ll take that.


First Welsh Castles Relay experience; running as a team and seeing how deep everyone was prepared to go for each other essentially, was just brilliant.

Cardiff Marathon in 2006 as it made me realise that my first marathon on not the best training (didn’t know much about running in those days), maybe I wasn’t so bad, managing to finish in just under 3:29, the photo shows me finishing on the track in the stadium, looking purposeful…

Manchester and London Marathons; managed to sneak under 3:15 for both of these although Manchester was subsequently ‘nerfed’ as had been incorrectly measured.

Man v Horse. Well it’s mad isn’t it….

Who is my running inspiration?

I never followed running when I was younger and had no intention to run anywhere if I could help it, so my running inspiration has come latterly and often from people in the Club (who I largely won’t name check as it will turn into an Oscar speech). It’s not about being quick, it’s about putting it all into a race. Malcolm for instance I gave up trying to talk to after he finished a race… because he couldn’t talk, he had run that hard; Lisa always runs really hard mind and she has never been lost for words ;-). Deb’s attitude has always been a tremendous example, she just fancies it; starts like she’s been shot out of a gun and off she goes. Me I start like I am wearing wellies, need a few miles for acceptance of my life choices to kick in and get some kind of pace going.

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

Well the original legendary marathon run by Phidippides would have been cool, and I would have been second which is the highest placed I would ever have been! I fancied running all the major city marathons and the Comrades Ultra but injury seems to be more of a problem these days but if I could be given a pick one to complete, Comrades I think, another race I’ve known about for a long time.

Golden piece of advice

Running is a privilege that we are able to do because our lives allow us that freedom. Running often doesn’t go to plan; when it does, appreciate your luck and your success, when not, appreciate the opportunity you’ve had (and complain to everyone else in the club the unfairness of it all!!!)

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