This month’s cover star is Kerry Brown; a keen runner who, like many of us, could never have predicted her love affair with running. Running has helped her to regain confidence after treatment for skin cancer and, as she approaches her forties, she’s never felt so fit – or in love with her sport. We caught up with her about where it all started – and why she loves nothing more than getting covered in mud on a weekend.
How it all started
Kerry has a colourful sporting history, having played basketball for 15 years until her knees complained too much. But her love affair with running came after she made an agreement with a friend. “I took a friend (who likes to run) surfing with me to Newquay and the agreement was that if she came surfing with me, I would take up one of her loves, running,” says Kerry. “I was also having various treatments including photodynamic therapy for skin cancer on various parts of my face and my self confidence was at a particularly low ebb.”
Like many of us, she didn’t find running easy to begin with. “I can still remember my first run round the block. I found it really difficult and had to keep stopping for a breather.”
But things quickly progressed from there and, having kept her promise to her friend to take up running, Kerry soon found she was breaking promises she’d made to herself. “When I initially took up running, I decided that although I was happy to join a club, I would NEVER sign up to any races,” she says. “Two months later, I signed up for my first race, the Brutal, which was a six-mile run through mud, up hills and over uneven terrain. Probably not the best race to sign up for your first one!”
Kerry soon moved on to her first road race, the Stubbington 10K. “I was so nervous before I left the house, to the point where I fell sick with nerves,” she says. “My team-mates at the Fareham Crusaders got me over the line. The support was absolutely incredible. Three years on, before every race, I still get really anxious – and when I start running and see all the supporters smiling, that anxiety fades away!”
It’s fair to say that Kerry’s club has been a huge support to her – she joined just one week after starting running, realising that without others to motivate her, she’d never make it out for sessions on dark, cold days. Through the club, she’s also become a Run Leader, and loves being able to help others enjoy the sport.
“I appreciate how difficult it is to take that first initial step and to join a running club,” she says. “I love encouraging others and seeing new runners progress and get the same love for running as I do. My Run Leader responsibility is a volu
nteering role – I don’t get paid but a ‘thank you’ really is a good enough reward for my time.”
She’s also thrilled to see how the sport is reaching out to women. “I am so pleased with how women in sport is being promoted in the media and the press. I am particularly impressed with the This Girl Can campaign and was fortunate enough to have my running and surf picture put up in the local shopping centre in Fareham.”
Kerry believes that finding a role model is invaluable for women taking up sport for the first time. “I look up to so many of the women in my club. I absolutely love listening to their running stories, and they keep motivated.”
Feeling fab at 40
Having come through her skin cancer experience, Kerry knows that running is a great way to look after herself, although she is extra cautious about running in the sun. “I do have to be really careful with running in the sunshine and need to use
a really high factor sunscreen which is sweat resistant to ensure I protect my skin,” she says. “There is nothing worse than getting sunblock in your eye, mid-run.”
But the benefits of running clearly go beyond the physical. “It clears my head and is a good stress reliever, and gives me some ‘me’ time,” says Kerry. “I love the social aspect of running and feel that runners really understand each other. I feel like we are all in it together!”
Kerry says she is thrilled to be chosen to be on the Women’s Running cover just before turning 40 and has no intention of using her age as an excuse to take it easy.
“My motto is ‘use iy or lose it’,” she says. “I have always been a sporty person and all the time I can, I will! I do get occasional comments from people who ask me, quite seriously, whether I have considered slowing down. Of course, I brush these comments off and continue on my own little journey!
“Age certainly won’t stop me. Age shouldn’t slow you down… ever! It’s an absolute dream come true to be on the cover of Women’s Running in my 40th year.”