Three years ago, local runner Bon Collins suffered an illness so severe doctors feared she’d never walk again. With her amazing determination and a little help from her friends, Bon has managed to run herself back to health and is excited to enter her third Woodbridge 10k. Bon explains why the annual Shufflers’ race is so special to her.
Hi Bon! You’re a familiar face on the 10k circuit. How many times have you taken part?
This year will be my third time. In 2015, I’d only been walking properly for four months so to run any of it was an achievement. Last year I ran more but still struggled. This year I am excited because I know I can run it all!
How did you get into running?
I’ve been overweight my entire adult life. As I started to head towards 40, I wanted to do something about that. Over the years, I’d tried literally every diet you can imagine and at the end of it all, I was bigger than ever. I started running, but then I got sick and was unable to walk. When I beat that (and I still have to pinch myself), I knew that the one thing I wanted to do was run.
You have lost a lot of weight in the past few years. Is that down to running?
Pretty much. Since running and eating healthily I have lost weight and it stays off. No starving myself or fad diets for me. If I want to have a chocolate bar, I can, but I know what is and isn’t good for me and I understand that exercise is required to keep me getting to my goal.
It’s no longer about weight loss – I don’t even know how much I weigh any more. It’s about being fit. Focusing on that has helped no end.
What’s your training routine like?
I like to run with people. I’m not very talkative when I run, mostly because it’s hard to do both well, but I do like to run with others. I run with my team mates from Ipswich JAFFA on a Monday night on the track and with friends during the week, then at weekends I run with my trainer Luke Read from Airborne Fit. (Airborne Fit are also sponsors at this year’s 10k). Luke helps me to focus on good running and improving all the time. His encouragement has been key to the achievements over the last few months in particular.
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s race?
Firstly running in club colours! The Jaffas have been a great support to me and it will be an honour to wear my club vest.
Woodbridge 10k is a race that I want to do every year that I can. It was my first race after I learned to walk again and so it means a lot to me.
This year I have a solid year’s worth of training under my belt (I had a 5 week break for spinal surgery last summer but was soon back to it) plus good instruction, so I’m really looking forward to enjoying the race to see that hard work bear fruit!
What do you like most / least about the Woodbridge 10k?
I love the support that you get on the route. It’s amazing just how many people turn out to watch – there is music played by families, people giving you water from their houses and everyone is willing you on. I remember that in 2015 I got paranoid that everyone was saying my name, until my running partner pointed out that it was on my bib!
What do I like least? It’s hard to say – I mean every runner of course will say the hills!! But then the course has a lot of nice downhills as well! My least favourite hill is the bit that goes around from the Co-Op carpark up to the Thoroughfare (Lime Kiln Quay). It doesn’t look like much but it’s a slow climber – the heat usually gets me!!
How will you celebrate after the race?
The first year I ran, I celebrated by going home and crying my eyes out because I couldn’t believe that I actually just did it. My legs were shot to bits! This year I am looking forward to celebrating in style with my trainer Luke and my team mates from JAFFA because I hope to really show what good consistent training can do for even an amateur runner like me.
I’m usually sick on the finish line – I seem to have made a habit of that at most races, probably because I try to give it my all on the course, but I am hoping this year not to disgrace myself again!
Do you take part in other running races?
Last year (2016) was the first year that I did anything other than the Woodbridge 10k. In March 2016 I did my first cross country race (Farmhouse Five for Females) which was fun. I did a couple of fun runs with friends and my friends’ children, like the Colour Dash, Insane Terrain and Race For Life. I had hoped to do the Twilight 10k (10k is definitely my favourite distance at the moment), but unfortunately I had spinal surgery which meant I had to take some time out.
I celebrated my return by doing the Tough Mudder half in September which was so different for me! I didn’t get a place in the Adnams 10k as I wasn’t quite quick enough on the computer, but thankfully a kind person donated their place to me and so I ran that!
Woodbridge is still my favourite race. You just can’t beat it!
What inspires you to keep running?
I think when you lose the ability to do something and are lucky enough to get it back, you no longer want to waste it. I have some inspirational friends who achieve amazing things in running, but I have learned not to compare myself to them too much and to understand that the fact that I even run is an inspiration to others.
You cannot beat running in my opinion. It brings people together; it gives you a great sense of achievement; you get fit; you can shake off a really bad day. It has so many benefits.
What’s next for your running?
I want to complete a marathon. It was the one thing I wanted to do before I got sick. I’m not quite marathon ready this year and I am ok with that. I am understanding that although I can run, I have only been walking again for just over two years, so to be where I am now (my longest run has been 7 miles) is still a miracle.
I know what it’s like wanting to lose weight or run and to be scared that you’re too big or will look silly. And I hope that by continuing to do it, I will inspire others to do it too. So long as I have the gift of my legs working, I will run.
INSPIRED TO ENTER THIS YEAR’S WOODBRIDGE 10K?
Entries for this year’s race open at 8am Friday 10th March 2017. Links to the Run Britain entry system will be published to the Woodbridge Shufflers 10k race page as soon as the system goes live. Good luck!
Thanks to a love of running, Bon Collins has recovered from severe illness to lose weight and stay healthy.