OSB Events have been in touch with Claire, who is just one of a number of disabled athletes taking part in the Lincoln Half Marathon 2016. Read our inspirational conversation below...
Hi Claire! We hope you’re well and the training for the Lincoln Half Marathon 2016 is going well. Your story is such an inspiration, and with the paralympics lighting up our screens and inspiring the nation recently, we’d love to hear more about your story.
OSB: We’re so happy that you chose to run the Lincoln Half Marathon, are you local to Lincoln?
CLAIRE: I live in Doncaster so I’m just up the road, i'm excited to run the Lincoln half.
OSB: Please could you tell us a little about your past and your disability?
CLAIRE: In my early 20’s I was diagnosed with Pernicious anaemia, which meant I suffered greatly with fatigue, I still managed trips to the gym and to keep generally fit. My eyes then began to suffer and my vision deteriorated which was an awful feeling. Tests revealed shadows on my brain which was eventually diagnosed as MS. Whilst it was a scary time I felt positive that I could continue to lead as normal a life as possible, although this would prove extremely challenging, as normal tasks and activities suddenly became more difficult.
I have always maintained a positive outlook and would like to think I have shown others you can overcome obstacles to achieve your goals, in some ways it makes it an even better achievement.
I have MS, Pernicious Anaemia, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Hay Fever, Vertigo, Depression and am Visually Impaired.
Running isn’t just about not being able to see exactly where I am, it’s around having no peripheral vision and blind spots, so, for example, I may not see a kerb or raised surface that’s right under my feet but can make out the road ahead. Likewise other runners and changes in surface can pose a problem as I do often feel unsteady on my feet, especially when changing from hard surface to grass.
OSB: When did you discover a love for running?
CLAIRE: I developed a love of running at an early age and have memories of watching Squaddies doing assault courses where I grew up in Colchester. Me and my twin brother Paul entered a 3mile race and came 1st and 2nd. I came back to running over the last 12 months. I completed my first 10km earlier in the year and have gone from there.
OSB: Is this your first half marathon?
CLAIRE: I completed the Great North Run on 11th September in 3hr01, it was a great event and wonderful experience. I want to do Lincoln and go under 3hrs.
OSB: How does your disability effect your training schedule? What challenges do you face and how do you overcome these challenges?
CLAIRE: I rely on other people (guides) for training runs so it can sometimes be difficult arranging convenient times, but, where there’s a will there’s a way and I generally manage to get out when needed. I generally need to make sure I have everything I need for every run so go through set plan before every run to make sure I have medication, nutrition and access to water.
OSB: What’s your race day routine and what’s your aim for the Lincoln Half Marathon?
CLAIRE: As mentioned above , I have to make sure I have everything with me, nutrition, medication and access to water. Get there nice an early, get warmed up, make sure I am in the start zone in plenty of time and comfortable, with my guide on my right.........soak up the atmosphere and take on the challenge.
OSB: What advice would you have for someone with a disability who is interested in taking up a new activity be that running or something else?
CLAIRE: Don’t give up on your dreams, illness and disability can make life more challenging but they don’t mean things have to stop. Find a local club, they will generally be able to support you or point you in the right direction (no pun intended). There are greater opportunities these days with greater awareness. You have one life, live it.