Member Profile

Stephen Brown

June 2019's member of the month is our Stephen. Please enjoy getting to know him a little better.

Who are you?

Well where do I begin? I’m Stephen Brown, 56 years old next birthday and now semi-retired from having worked in education in various guises. I’ve been with my partner Mike for 34 years and can honestly say that I have loved sharing every moment of my life spent with him.

I have various interests outside of work, these include enjoying the outdoors; travelling; reading; music; languages; learning in general; good food; wine; cava; prosecco and gin as well as socialising with friends.

We have had our house in Faversham for 30 years however, we’re both Londoners and work took us back to London after having spent only 18 months here in Faversham back in the late 80’s, early 90’s.

We came back to Faversham to enjoy our lives here on a semi-retired and semi-permanent basis in 2012 after having lived in South Africa and Spain. Those of you who know us well, will know that we share our time between here in Faversham and Catalunya in Spain.

Whilst living in South Africa, and approaching 50 years old, I focused on my health and well-being and therefore started to run; cycle and swim. I had only run on a treadmill in the past and to be honest I became bored with attending the gym and like most individuals, I had neglected my exercise regime for a very busy work and social life. Since having hit 40 years old, my weight has fluctuated and the kilos that I lost in the past, quickly made an ugly appearance again.

Running on various terrains in South Africa was extremely difficult for me at first, breathing, aches and pains and having to keep stopping after short distances out of breath and walking made me realise just how unfit I had become.

The day started very early in South Africa for all and I used to get up around 5am and run a particular circuit close to where we lived, taking in the ocean views. The circuit/lap of the coastal path soon became two circuits and eventually after time and perseverance I was able to complete up to ten circuits and the running/ walking soon became running, only, on this circuit.

The cycling and swimming which I was doing along with the running helped me with my breathing and ability to run distances. I soon became accustomed to exercise and through mind and body soon reaped the benefits. When I returned back to the UK, friends and family commented on the results of my exercising regimes from their observations.

2012, now back in Faversham, the exercise continued, and I ran whenever possible. On returning from one of my runs, I met Graham Bedford who is the duty postman for where I live. He commented on running, marathons and exercise in general. As time progressed, Graham, mentioned that there would be a running club in Faversham and kept me informed of the developments.

In May 2015, I attended the very first Faversham Running Club Meeting and met up with people who had running abilities of all levels and from this first club meeting, this is where my hobby for running changed and my love for living in Faversham changed.

What's in your kit bag?

On a personal note, I don’t run with a watch timing myself, and respect those that do, my reason for running is for personal achievement, only. I run with my iphone and headphones listening to music. occasional jelly babies, although I have tried energy supplements plain water works for me.

I don’t like the cold temperatures here, and therefore, I’m often seen running wearing layers of clothing as my legs rarely get a showing outdoors in the UK before the end of May.

What's been your greatest achievement?

Acronyms such as “PB” were alien to me, I had never run in an “official race” in any capacity before, however, I met members in the club who had completed 5k, 10k. Marathons and Ultras. I soon became more educated to the running lifestyle and attended the club meetings as often as possible together with the additional Sunday runs.

My ability to complete distances became evident through attending club meetings however, this was only through the information; advice and guidance, together with the encouragement from other runners in the club who had far more experience in running that I ever had.

The talk turned to local 10k races and marathons, and the Herne Bay 10k in July 2015 was my first official race which gained me my first medal.

Marathons were being run by members of the Club and training was underway for those runners who had a pending marathon. I had started to become more interested in marathon running and sought as much information as possible from more experienced members of the club run who had completed marathons. This is when I decided to register for my very first marathon, Brighton 2016 at the age of 52. I had been inspired by the members of the club who had run marathons previously and this motivated me to believe that I too, could run a marathon, with the right training and support from other members of club.

I soon became interested in running accessories that would assist me in training and completing my first marathon at Brighton.

Brighton, April, 2016, was my first marathon event, the best running achievement ever!

Nerves were there for sure and the unusual necessities to “wee” both before and during the event were very evident that day. The encouragement from the crowds and general public who attended the event together with the surprise attendance of other members of the Faversham Running Club who had made the journey down to Brighton to support the event certainly made the difference in being able to complete my first marathon.

Supporters play such a big part in my running and I would like to thank Mike and friends who are not runners for attending events. The camaraderie in running is so prevalent and this is not only locally and nationally, this is internationally, too. Words cannot describe the overwhelming feeling experienced from seeing people that you recognise and know, however, the seeing that “finish line” for the first time when running a marathon is something that will live with me for ever. 4:47:50 was my finish time at my first the Marathon 2016.

I had no intentions of running any other marathons, as this was something, that I thought that I could tick off of my “bucket list”. I remember vividly, after having collected my first marathon medal and having photos taken, Rod Bryant telling me that in spite of my only wanting to complete one marathon, that the experience of having achieved a marathon would be so overwhelming that I would probably sign up for one again. Little did I know that 24 hours later, he was right. I had registered for Brighton Marathon 2017.

Marathon Running for me didn’t stop here and certainly didn’t stop in the UK. I have participated in marathons in Barcelona; Cologne; Venice and Seville.I will be taking part in the Valencia marathon this coming December, and I enjoyed Seville so much, that I have registered for Seville February 2020. Gaining a place in the London Marathon will remain a dream until I have been successful in a ballot

Give us your top tip

A top tip I’d like to share is to “run your race”, whatever that maybe. We all have different aspirations, abilities and reasons for running. The fact that any one of us is out and running in some capacity is an achievement to be celebrated. I’ve discovered whilst being a member of the Faversham Running Club that I adapt better to the longer distances when running rather than the 5k and 10k, I run more at a pace that suits me compared with focussing on a “PB” when running shorter distances. However, having said this, I would encourage anyone to register for a 5k; 10k; Park Run or a Couch to 5k when and wherever possible as they are fabulous events.

I still like to participate in the shorter distances as I welcome a medal or a t-shirt that accompany these events.

What would you say now to the pre-Faversham Running Club you?

Reflecting back on pre Faversham Running Club, I am quite certain that I would not have settled back to life here in Faversham without there being a Faversham Running Club being in there. The Club has given me a network of friends; acquaintances and likeminded runners. People who I would have walked by in the street are now a part of the network of people that I now know and share time with in both running and social environments.

Through club meetings; running events; social events; and social media; I know that my life in Faversham would have been somewhat different and for this, I have to thank everybody who contribute their time and effort in providing a great club for all, regardless of their abilities and reasons for running. I also would like to take this opportunity to congratulate those who have achieved great things and I love celebrating your successes with you.