- Tell us a bit about yourself, how long have you been in Brighton and what do you like about living here?
I’m Darren, I grew up in the sort of East Lancashire town where if you could read and write you were called a puff. I did the whole Smalltown Boy nonsense and ran away to London, then ran away to the States, then returned to London older but not wiser. Then I met a nice Turkish man and settled down.
We were house hunting in London and most places in our price range were either Zone 18 or next door to crack dens. The husband took a day trip to Brighton and put an offer on a place. I went ballistic as I’d vetoed the town originally but when I travelled down to view the place a double rainbow appeared over the Pier. I took that as a Sign from God and changed my mind. I love it here. Mind you, half of London moved down the same time we did so I’m terribly sorry, native Brightonians. I guess I’m partly responsible for the property market going haywire.
I’ve adapted easily. I’ve even got the pierced nose and those terrible cheap tattoos that most people in this town have as well.
- How long have you been running, and what is it about running that you enjoy?
I ran at school and was quite good at it. Then I discovered Regal King Size and it pretty much kiboshed any future sporting glory. It was only in my early 40s when I decided to get healthy that I started again. Forget hearing about how Parkruns are gateway drugs, I went all out and decided to do the London Marathon. Everyone thought I was crazy (most still do) but I did it, loved it and kept going back for more.
I badly injured myself on my last marathon, leading to five months off. I was diagnosed with facet arthropathy which is essentially just arthritis in my spine. It came as a relief to hear this as I was worried about how badly I was injured and if I’d ever be able to run again. I adapted to my new condition really well, bought myself some Hokas and started pounding the pavements again. I love my Baby Spice pumps. Sure, they’re the sporty 21st Century version of Dr Scholl sandals but give me comfort over aesthetics every time.
Then I got plantar fasciitis which was another three months off. Looking back I can say 2022 was not my finest year!
- What made you decide to join Frontrunners and how did you hear about the club?
Late-night Googling is always recommended for finding out new things. I didn’t know anyone in Brighton so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to keep fit and make new friends at the same time.
- Have you run any races before? Have you signed up for any upcoming events and what are your goals?
I’m currently unsure about going back to marathons but never say never. I managed to shave twenty minutes off my half-marathon time with info and support from other FrontRunners, so let’s see if I can continue to improve on that.
- How did the COVID-19 lockdowns affect you and your motivation to run?
I became incredibly Zen during the first lockdown. I can be a bit of a control freak, wanting immediate results from immediate actions. I was faced with the unavoidable realisation that there was nothing I could do about the situation and adapted surprisingly well.
There wasn’t much to do apart from jog through Central London which at the time looked like 28 Days Later.
I was living in Brighton when Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo was announced. I jumped on the train to London to grab some necessities I’d left there (ok, it was my Xbox) and headed back to the Coast, not unlike getting the last helicopter out of Saigon. Luckily they’d just released Assassins Creed Valhalla so I had something to occupy my time.
- Why do you enjoy being a Frontrunner?
I’m the youngest of three boys so grew up in an incredibly competitive household. Luckily I’m now old and wise enough to respect my limitations. I’m not a gazelle, I’m a plodder, and that’s fine. Mixed-ability runners are welcomed without being patronised which is really important to me and many others. This is probably why I’ve now become a Leader in Running Fitness, to ensure everyone is supported and encouraged during the runs.