Well travelled Gemma Gilroy found her home in more ways than one, after swapping pounding the streets of London for the beauties of running on the South Downs. Gemma has kindly shared her running memories with us.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
My full name is Gemma Rita Gilroy, middle name is my mum’s. I was born in Bangor, Northern Ireland, not Wales, and I have one older brother who is a chef in Edinburgh. I have lived in Belfast, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Madrid and London before meeting Fergus and moving to Brighton 3 years ago. I teach Geography in a secondary school in Uckfield.
When did first start running?
I started running in 2004 but it was pretty sporadic given that a lot of the time was taken up drinking vodka and red bull. It wasn’t until I moved to London in 2009 and joined a running club there that I started doing it more regularly.
How many years have you been running for?
Properly for 10 years
When did you join the Hedgehoppers and why/what made you become a regular?
I joined in April 2018. I had been in Brighton for about 7 months and decided to take the plunge to join the club after watching the Brighton Marathon. After pounding the pavements in London one of the first runs was at Stanmer Park to see the bluebells and I just remember thinking this is amazing. That was the time I got asked for my first £3 for a league race. I had no idea what I was signing up for but I was up for it.
Best thing about being a Hopper?
Wow it’s hard to pin down. Moving to a new place is always hard even though I did it for all the right reasons but I honestly didn’t feel like I belonged until I joined the Hoppers. So its the sense of belonging, friendship and camaraderie and knowing that I am always going to see someone I know at parkrun.
Favourite running memory i.e. that WOW moment?
Running past Griz at the Littlehampton Beach Run last year (I almost didn’t get a lift home after that) 😊
What made you start running?
I wanted to start to take my fitness a bit more seriously and it’s a really great way to meet people. I met a really great bunch of people through the club in London as well (not as cool as the Hedgehoppers obviously).
What’s the longest distance you’ve every run?
A marathon – Paris in 2015 and Brighton in 2019.
Favourite running event and why?
Paris Marathon. I got injured leading up to it so it was touch and go whether I would do it but my parents and friends had already booked to support me so I was determined. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to finish in a particular time so I just enjoyed the atmosphere. I was great to have my parents there and I even made my dad cry as he was so proud of me. It was a tough choice between that and Tough Mudder but being dunked in water with ice in it and then getting electrocuted at the end was not that much fun.
Do you have a nickname and how did you come by it?
Gem, Gems, Gem Gem, Mad G oh and Tesco, just because I worked there as a student.
Please tell us one thing about yourself that people may not know?
I have broken 4 bones in my body. One of which in my elbow caused me to have metal put in my arm, this happened while I was on a skiing holiday in 2001. However it didn’t happen on the slopes but while I was in the pub! Of course I am more sensible now!