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Meet the locals inspired to run the Surrey Half Marathon

PUBLISHED: 10:36 07 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:50 29 March 2017

Last year's Surrey Half Marathon

Last year's Surrey Half Marathon

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Now in its fourth year, the Surrey Half Marathon was recently hailed the UK’s Best Road Run Race. We caught up with some runners who have signed up this year to find out what inspired them to take part

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2017

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WENDY SCOTT, GUILDFORD

Wendy Scott, 49, regularly attends the Saturday morning Parkrun at Stoke Park, near her home in Guildford, and the Surrey Half will be her third half marathon. Deaf since birth, Wendy works as a hearing loss advisor and is training to become a run guide for deaf and blind runners. She is running for Chloe and Sophie Special Ears Fund, a charity that supports Deaf children in Surrey and Hampshire.

“I only started to take up running properly in August last year when the penny dropped that I needed to focus on running in order to improve my times. Since then it has been such a learning curve and I have made wonderful running friends, who have inspired and encouraged me,” she says. “I belong to a fabulous Facebook group (which I am now admin of) called Four Seasons Runners Group, which supports people whether at the start of their running journey, on the injury bench, on a runstreak, want to ask running related questions or simply want to post about a fab run they had done that day.

“I started training for the Surrey Half as part of my training for the Brighton Marathon in April and am following a 16-week plan, which gives me times and distances to aim for each week - for example 5k easy run or 8k faster pace run. My training route is mostly around nearby Stoke Park with its gentle inclines, which I still find hard! I do my hill work up and down Nightingale Road or Pewley Hill. At the weekends, when I need to do the longer runs, I adore running alongside the River Wey, which is rich in scenery and wildlife. I spotted a wild deer once on the canal path without another soul about and I had to stop and cry at the raw beauty! Reigate and Box Hill run with a friend was truly awesome with fabulous views! Another favourite route is Richmond Park, which is around 10k per lap but full of cyclists and runners achieving the same aim, we give each other the ‘nod’!”

MARK WOODWARD, WOKING

Mark Woodward, 32, is a senior associate at race sponsor, Mercer in Woking. The Surrey Half will be his first official running race over 5k and he will be running for two charities,The British Red Cross and Guildford charity, Cherry Trees, which provides respite care for children with a range of disabilities.

“My first sport is squash and I started running around a year ago to help improve my fitness for that but now really enjoy running. My company recently introduced an after-work running club and so there is now a regular group of us at work who go out running,” he says. “Our office is right next to the Basingstoke Canal so it is really nice running along the tow path without having to worry about any traffic. When it’s dry, Horsell Common is also close by and is a good 10k route that I can just about manage in a lunch break. I’ve also started running the ‘Woking 3’ at lunchtime on the first Wednesday of each month. It’s a nice three(ish)-mile race around Woking, which starts at Woking Leisure Centre and is run by a group of volunteer local runners.

“Prior to signing up for the Surrey Half, I was running once a week anyway but generally only 5k to 10k. Initially I found increasing the distance tough but I’ve got up to 10 miles now so feeling a bit more confident. I’m aiming for a time of one hour and 40 minutes, hopefully as quick as one hour and 35 minutes if I’m feeling good on the day!”

DEBBIE VUCICEVIC, GUILDFORD

Surrey Half first timer, Debbie Vucicevic, 48, from Guildford, is running for Macmillan Cancer Support. “I’ve survived ovarian cancer twice and my family and I got support from a gynae nurse during my treatment,” says Debbie, who hopes to complete the half marathon in under two hours. “I have been in remission for 20 years and want other patients to be able to get the quality of treatment that I was lucky to receive.

SUZANNE VAN EVEN, GODALMING

Suzanne van Even, from Godalming, and Steve Brown, from, Surbiton will be running the Surrey Half to raise awareness for Harrison’s Fund, a charity named after 10-year-old Surrey lad Harrison Smith, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare genetic condition which affects all the muscles in the body, causing them to waste away.

Suzanne 39, will be joined by her best friend, Boukje, who will be flying in especially for the challenge from the Netherlands and the pair hope to finish the race in under two hours.

“I chose Harrison’s Fund as I really want to help raise awareness for a local charity, rather than choosing one of the national ones that already get a lot of attention. I don’t think a lot of people know about this devastating disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, I know I didn’t before this, and they should. It is the most common fatal disease you have never heard of and I am just happy to do my bit to draw attention to the cause and hopefully encourage others to do the same, “says Suzanne, who is in her final year studying for a Psychology degree.

“I ran the race last year but I thought I’d enter again this year in a bid to beat my time and raise money for a different charity.”

STEVE BROWN, SURBITON

Steve, 43, has been good friends with the founder of Harrison’s Fund, Harrison’s father, Alex, for over a decade.

“When we first met Alex, and his then wife Donna, we had both just had our first children, Harrison and Joseph, and everything seemed so perfect. It is hard to believe in just a few short years everything changed and they were faced with this massive challenge, but if anyone is up to it, they are,” he says. “I’d been thinking about doing something for the charity for years and decided I couldn’t put it off any longer so signed myself up for the Surrey Half. I am looking forward to running with all the rest of the Harrison’s Fund team and raising lots of money.”

JANET CUMMINGS, REIGATE

Janet Cummings, 48, is a PA at TWM Solicitors in Reigate and has run the Surrey Half twice already. This time however, she is running as part of her training for next month’s London Marathon.

“As a half marathon the Surrey Half is my favourite. The area and the route it takes is lovely, hence returning for a third time,” she says. “I am a regular runner and member of Horley Harriers but my training for this particular event and the London Marathon really started in January. The training so far is going well - I prefer running in the winter months as I don’t like running in hot weather! My best time for a half marathon is two hours and five minutes but I would love to complete the Surrey Half in under two hours.”

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Need to Know

The Mercer Surrey Half Marathon takes place on Sunday, March 12, starting from Woking Leisure centre at 9am. There is also a 5k run, which starts at 8am, and a kids’ run for children aged six to 16 at 9.20am. Visit surreyhalfmarathon.co.uk for route details and road closures

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