On the Spot – Alexandra Oliver

When did running begin for you?

In 2016.  I was living in Spain, had piled weight on and was not in a particularly happy place. A good friend of mine at the time was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and suggested my life wasn’t all that bad considering!  Helen asked if I’d run a Race for Life in her memory, and accept the challenge to run 5 x 5km, 10 x 10km, a half and marathon in 2017 for charities that she nominated, which I did. Almost £32,000 spread over 17 charities….it was a tough year, I hated every run, but I was losing weight and alive…..Sadly she never saw me complete the last run, the marathon, which I didn’t actually manage to do until 2020. I couldn’t face trying and when the pandemic meant the London Marathon went virtual, I, alongside my friend Abi, got charity places to raise money for MacMillan, so, although time had ticked on, I didn’t let Helen down in the end.

Why do you run?

Nowadays, 25kg lighter, I run for pure joy!  I just love the feeling of lacing up the trainers and putting one foot in front of the other.  I love that it’s a thing one can do that can lead to anywhere you please, take you in a choice of directions, your run, your way, your adventure. This pastime is a gift and I respect this now.


What race or moment in your running career holds the most significance and why?

To date it’s a toss up between the Ultra Trail Snowdonia and the Wendover Woods Overnight Run, both 51km, both, to say the least, challenging! UTS was mostly scrambling around the mountains in Wales, scaling up vertical crags, descending very wet muddy cliff faces mostly on my bottom, wading through bogs and a tiny bit of running – I LOVED IT, and the WW50 was just brutal, hilly, dark and lonely – I LOVED IT…..I find I use these times to put my life in perspective, to be grateful for every moment.

Who is your running inspiration?

It’s Waverley Harriers. When I joined at the end of 2019, I had no idea, no one had an idea that we would all spiral into a new and different way of life.  I was living in Spain at the time with no real way to return when the pandemic hit. The lockdown was total and unlike the UK, we were not allowed out of our homes unless it was for medical supplies or essential food. I saw advertised that on Saturday mornings there was a group called Mentally Healthy Harriers getting together to chat.  I didn’t think I needed it at the time, but I took the plunge, signed onto the zoom and quickly realised that they were the inspiration I needed, the share I needed to be positive. I got out there and ran on my roof and in the basement level underneath the block of apartments. I joined in all the Harrier challenges from a distance. It ended with Harriers Run To Spain and a rooftop zoom party. This is how most of you met me!

What event, past or present, would you like to take part in and why?

Marathon des Sables! I am clearly a nut job! That said, I adore a challenge.

What golden piece of advice would you give to other runners?

Smile! Focus on the journey, the adventure, not the destination!


What’s next

The next big thing for me is Race to The King in June 2023, 100km in one go…I am terrified but I won’t be alone, I’m never alone. Closer in time though is my 3rd Virtual London marathon! I like this event, I can go anywhere I please at any speed I choose!

Who would you like to nominate?

Abi Truelove

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