I was rather intrigued last week to note that the BBC has an on-line article 100 Inspirational Women. I promise that the idea for this topic came before I read it!
Women, it might seem, are held back for various reasons – through circumstances, by gender or size, as a result of upbringing, or even by geography. But I don’t think this is always true – it might be harder for women to juggle family and work, or to break through the glass ceiling, but we only need to look around to see how many, strong, successful and inspirational women there are, women whom we encounter time and time again in our daily lives.
For most of us, women or men, the idea of getting out of bed in the morning and going for a gentle 20 minute run, is at most a well-intentioned fantasy. I know. I used to run, and was always looking for a good excuse not to go out – the rain, an injured muscle or a cold. But for those who like to run, and certainly for someone like Jayne Angilley, there are no excuses.
I first met Jayne about thirty years ago, and she is, by any standards, a very modest woman. By day she works as an Occupational Therapist, but she also is one of the UK’s elite veteran ultra-marathon runners, often coming in as first lady in some particularly gruelling races, such as the Anglo Celtic Race of 100k, and the Tralee 100k race in Ireland.
Her racing has taken her country wide and beyond – from Venice, to the Alps, where she has taken part in the Ultra Rosa training camp, to taking part in trail running teams which have led to her gaining sponsorship by At Your Pace, Buff, Saloman, Suunto, Raidlight, Torq.
In 2013, Jayne and a friend ran 300 miles around the Cornish coastal paths in 10 days – this equates to a marathon every single day. The main purpose for this event was to raise money for the Cornwall Children’s Hospice – for which they raised over £10,000. An amazing achievement.
In 2014, Jayne was first lady at the Barry 40 – a race that involved running 40 miles around a 400 metre track, which must have been rather hard work, but which ultimately resulted in being selected for the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k race. This is a great achievement, by any standards. Although the race didn’t work out as Jayne had hoped, in August, she competed in the Tralee International 100k in Ireland, and won the race.
More recently, Jayne has competed successfully in a number of races both in the UK and abroad, and performed strongly in all of these races, including the 44 mile Classic quarter in Cornwall which is a trail race on the coastal footpath between Lizard and Lands End, and The Quest 40 miles, which is again a coastal footpath race on the North Cornwall coast. Other races include the Brecon to Cardiff trail race and the Lakeland 50 miles, which is 50 off road miles in the Lake District. She has also raced in a trail marathon in Cortina in Italy, and run around the Monte Rosa haute route in Italy and Switzerland on a training camp with Lizzy Hawker.
In a word, Jayne doesn’t simply loves running, she is running – it is such an important part of her life, and being in her presence makes you want to get out your running shoes and join her, well, at least to follow her, as she swiftly disappears over the horizon.
For Jayne, running isn’t just a competition. It is about being outdoors in beautiful places, feeling strong and alive, the exhilaration, and sheer enjoyment of being able to run, and to make a journey on foot between so many amazing places.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly am in awe of her achievements, the ability to keep on running for days on end, raising money for charity, and getting to travel to beautiful and far flung places – keep on running Jayne, but before you head off on your next race, can you tell us what would you consider to be your greatest achievement?
It has to be running related, and I have competed in lots but of races, but two things stand out. One was being selected to run for Wales at the Anglo Celtic plate, and the other was winning the Tralee 100k a few years ago.
Who are your favourite writers?
Iris Murdoch, Kate Atkinson and the Ultra runner Lizzy Hawker who wrote beautifully in her book, Runner.
What is the best thing that has happened to you?
Lots of good things have happened to me, and I cannot really single one out. My most memorable moments and some of the best have been when running, as this has taken me to some really beautiful places, and in which I have met some inspirational people.
What is your greatest strength?
Not giving up when the going gets hard!
What was the best advice given to you?
To be patient. It helps in running, and in life generally.
What is the one word you’d use to define you?
I would like to think I am kind.
What is the best gift you could receive?
A camper van and time to travel around Europe in it!
What makes you laugh?
Silly things, odd moments. I always laugh at Fawlty Towers!
Which living person do you most admire?
The runner Lizzy Hawker. She is talented, kind and wise, and a lovely person.
What is your most treasured possession?
A soft toy which I have had for many years, and which is old and ragged, but goes with me everywhere.
What is your motto?
How would you like to be remembered?
As a good runner, and a kind person.