On the Spot – Sarah Atkinson

When did running begin for you?

My main sport at school was netball, but I was never ‘sporty’ per say. I had always preferred playing Goal Shooter in order to do the least amount of moving about as possible, whilst still getting the glory due to a minor height advantage.

After a very sedentary university career, and a prolonged period of too many good parties and subsequent hangovers in London, a good friend was in need of a project. She had recently had her heart broken and decided to busy herself by signing up our four friends for a women-only 5km race. The Boutique Run, which took place in Battersea Park on the hottest day in July 2010, was coined as a luxurious girls’ night out. The 5km sweat fest was followed by spa and beauty treatments, free champagne, a nail bar – the whole concept was rather baffling.

The other three stopped running almost immediately as the nail lacquer had set, but for me something went ‘click’. I loved challenging myself and experiencing the places, spaces and voids my thoughts would drift between when running.

Why do you run?

Many reasons; to be outside, to visit my favourite local trees (which one is yours? We all have them!), to order my thoughts, and to listen to a mammoth amount of podcasts and audiobooks.

I currently work in a fairly high-pressure job fundraising for an art gallery and specialist art history university (my alma mater). My specialism is managing ultra-high-net-worth individuals who can be lovely, if sometimes extremely demanding and frequently utterly ridiculous. Running is my time to review my day and process. If I’ve had a particularly thorny conversation with someone, I’ll pop on my trainers and chew it over in my head. Typically, by the end of my run I will have worked out a solution and how to move that person on to the next step.

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

Probably the Ealing Half Marathon in 2016. I was running three half marathons on back-to-back weekends, raising money for Cancer Research as my father had been diagnosed with a particularly unpleasant form of cancer that summer.  Ealing was the middle filling in the trio sandwich. I had done it a few times before so knew the course well and could switch into what I call the ‘angry determination’ headspace. I mentally kicked cancer’s butt all the way around, up and down the streets of Ealing for 13.1 miles and crossed the line with a PB, which still stands to this day.

Who is your running inspiration?

My fellow Waverley Harriers of course!  I joined during lockdown when activities in the club were somewhat restricted in terms of gatherings and what we were permitted to do. Nevertheless, I felt immediately welcomed in and was chatting away at people whilst trotting around the streets of Godalming on a weekly basis. I would like to make a special and very honourable mention for Kat Williamson (née Hobbs) for her incredible feat of JOGLE earlier this autumn.  Her determination and grit are utterly inspiring, not to mention the sheer scale of organisation and dedication involved to run from the top of Scotland to the bottom of Cornwall. I was thrilled when she let me tag along for the final morning (and sorry me and Harriet made you stop so we could get an ice cream just before the final ascent)

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

Marathon des châteaux du Médoc (see reference to spending 90% of my 20s hungover)

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

Don’t run on a stress fracture! (twice – cuboid 2014 and 5th metatarsal 2016)

What’s next?

Pencilled in the diary is the Farnborough Half in January 2023 (can I beat my ‘Ealing feeling’?). Earlier this year I was giving it the biggen that I’d enter my first ultra. Now I have written this, I suppose I have to do it now.

Who would you like to nominate?

My birthday twin, Sarah Oughton (née Morris)

Posted in Runners Blogs.