Sometimes the smallest decision to get fit can turn into one of the best things a person can do. This is certainly the case with Ealing-based Christine Hartigan, whose decision to pull on her running shoes when she moved to the area ten years ago has been life-changing.
What started out as a drive to get fit after a few years of inactivity has seen Christine discover the streets and parks of Ealing whilst developing a huge passion for running.
Christine’s inspiring journey began by simply running around Lammas Park in the early days to covering all the parks in the West London borough as she got fitter, and eventually to running the 10 miles to work and entering races. She finally entered the much-loved Ealing Half Marathon in her hometown and finished as 12th placed female in the 2016 race.
“I didn’t have much confidence when I started,” admits Christine, “but the parks in Ealing are really accessible and make a great place to start, so I began to run around Lammas Park, where the Ealing Half Marathon is based. Soon enough I ventured a little further to Walpole Park, then Ealing Common, then Gunnersbury Park, and before I knew it I was covering all the parks in the area.”
With the Tube strikes starting in London around the same time, Christine then swapped heels for trainers and commuted to work on foot – at first half running, half by overground train, until eventually she could run the full 10 miles and was clocking up some 70 miles per week.
“I just love what fitness and training can do for the confidence,” confirms Christine. “I had never felt better and it made me realise how much there is to achieve with the body. I felt so inspired and it made me want to do more. I decided to qualify as a personal trainer to add to my health and wellness knowledge, in order to train other people and help them achieve their fitness goals, too”.
Christine has herself run the Ealing Half Marathon for the last two years, achieving 12th placed female with a time of 1 hour 33 minutes at the 2016 race. Having seen so many fantastic runners at the 2015 race, she never dreamed that she would be one day herself be at the front of the field – but her determination, her love for running and her dedicated training plan had prepared her well for crossing the finish line with the top athletes.
Christine’s journey to fitness has included a focus on eating well, as she realises how eating the right food and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also make a big difference to performance. “I enjoy eating good, healthy food that’s also local,” explains Christine. “In Ealing we are lucky to have a proper grocer’s and a fantastic butcher’s, which makes it easy to eat well, plus I like to shop locally to give back to the community.”
As for the Ealing Half, it is clear that Christine loves her local race, and it is easy to see why that the event has been voted the UK’s favourite half marathon for the last three years at The Running Awards.
“The support at the Ealing Half is unbelievable,” enthuses Christine. “I have done many other runs but this one was just amazing. I literally smiled from start to finish, waving at all the supporters and marshals, and felt so energised throughout. Having our names on our bibs really made a difference and people were shouting my name in encouragement. It’s also a really nice touch that they’re giving out water at the churches in Ealing. I remember being at the peak of tiredness, just before Hanwell Hill at Greenford, when a spectator gave me half an orange – it was just perfect timing and it tasted amazing, and it gave me the energy I needed to go over the last hill. Thank you to whoever that guy was!”.
The Ealing Half Marathon is a huge community event and Christine is one of many who really want to get involved, whether it’s to run the race or help as a volunteer on race day.
As Christine rightly says, “You don’t have to be great to start with, but you do have to start to feel great!”. It is certainly great inspiration for anyone thinking of taking their first tentative steps into running, and proof that a healthy lifestyle can have many wonderful and often unexpected effects.
The Ealing Half Marathon starts and finishes in Lammas Park on Sunday 24th September and features a 13.1-mile route on closed roads around the leafy streets and parks of the West London Borough. It is well known for its huge support and lively atmosphere.
The Ealing Half Marathon is organised by Ealing Half Marathon CIC, a Community Interest Company that invests all money raised at the races into sporting and health-promoting activities within the local community.
Until 30th April, the entry fee for the Ealing Half Marathon is £38 for affiliated athletes and £40 for unaffiliated runners. The fee rises to £40-42 between 1st May – 31st July, and the race is expected to sell out by the end of July.
Go to www.ealinghalfmarathon.com for further details and to sign up to experience the #EalingFeeling this autumn. You can also like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/ealinghalf and follow @EalingHalf #EalingFeeling on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news about the Ealing Half Marathon.