Jan Morgan

A late starter in a family of runners. One mention that she had started running and her dad whisked her off to Hove Park for a run before she could change her mind. Here Jan Morgan shares her running memories and more.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself? i.e. where you grew up, family etc.

I was born in Mile Oak and went to the local primary school and then to Portslade Community College, so I had my PE lessons at Portslade Sports Centre (home of the Hoppers). I generally hated PE lessons but enjoyed a Saturday morning trampolining club at the sports centre. I am married with a 25 year old son, Dan and an 18 year old daughter, Lucy and we now live in Southwick. I have worked in printing and publishing for 36 years, starting with a 3 year apprenticeship in pre-press production at the Brighton Evening Argus where I worked for 16 years until I was made redundant as a result of rapidly changing technology in the printing industry. I then worked for 19 years in magazine page design and layout for GMC Publications in Lewes, working on craft and hobby magazines until I was made redundant for the second time. I have now returned to pre-press production with Alexir Packaging in Edenbridge, Kent where my job mostly involves assessing customers’ artwork for print, making sure it meets technical specifications and offering advice on necessary adjustments, proof checking and preparing job specifications for press operators.

When did you first start running?

I didn’t start running until 2012 so I suppose the question here should be how did I avoid it until I was 46 considering I have some very keen runners in my family, particularly my Dad! Running featured fairly prominently in my childhood with many Sundays spent going to support Dad running in cross-country events, maybe going for walks in the woods, making sure we were back in time to see him finish! We also got taken to track events at Withdean Stadium regularly and I remember being taken to an event at Crystal Palace where a young Steve Ovett was competing, and as a teenager going with my Dad to watch one of the early London Marathons in the 80s. The parking restrictions must have been much more lenient then as I remember him parking at a number of different points close to the course so we could watch the leaders go past and then jump back in the car to see them further on! So despite my upbringing, I was a bit of a late starter.

What made you start running?

Well my first taste of competitive running was when my Dad entered me for a kids road race at Lancing when I was about 10. I came last, sulked all the way home and vowed never EVER to do that again! Fast forward more than 30 years and two friends and I decided to join a Zumba class to get fit as a New Year’s resolution. The class was close to home so I started running home from the class and then decided I wanted to do a bit more. I mentioned this to my Dad and he wasted no time in getting me out at Hove Park the same weekend, trying out the parkrun course before I could change my mind! I eventually decided I enjoyed the running more than the Zumba class and gave that up and started running a bit more often.

How many years have you been running for?

Eight if you don’t count the unfortunate event at Lancing!

When did you join the Hedgehoppers and why/what made you become a regular?

I joined the Hedgehoppers soon after I started running as at that time there was a beginner’s/slower group led by Dad, Paul Stratton and Pete Weston. Usually my sister Jenny was there as well and Neal was already running with the main group then, so joining was made easy really by having half my family as members! My first run with the main group was led by Colin Hannant and was a typical ‘Colin’s boot camp’ run. It must have been ok as I came back for more the next week, which was just as well because I think it was around this time that Dad, Paul and Pete started their ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ style Tuesday morning runs and the ‘slow’ group was no more.

Best thing about being a Hopper?

Not having to be a fast runner to feel you belong, and running on the beautiful South Downs in the Summer months.

Favourite running memory i.e. that WOW moment?

This has to be my first half marathon at Worthing in 2017. I put off doing a half marathon for quite a while as I didn’t believe I was capable of running that far, so the sense of achievement was great. Also some of my family came to support me and as the first half of the course zigzags through the town centre, they were able to cut through the side streets to several points on the course and I would spot them in the crowd cheering every couple of miles and round every turn a bit like a ‘Where’s Wally’ book. It was making me laugh whilst trying to scoff jelly babies and run at the same time!

What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run?

Half marathon.

Favourite running event and why?

Littlehampton Beach Run. I just love being by the sea, and if we’re lucky with the weather, watching the sun go down as we run westwards in the second half.

Please tell us one thing about yourself that people may not know?

In 1987 I became the last person to complete a traditional apprenticeship at the Argus and consequently the last person to endure the time honoured ‘Banging Out ceremony’ which marked the end of an apprenticeship. This involved being covered in buckets of brightly coloured gunge made of flour, eggs and water and then being wheeled on a trolley round the outside of the Argus building in North Street and then inside as well while everyone made as much noise as possible by banging together any objects they could lay their hands on! It was the end of an era in Argus history.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Here’s a tip from my non-running husband, Wayne. He always says “Don’t leave your muddy running shoes outside the back door and forget they’re there because the foxes will carry them off”. Last weekend he left his old gardening trainers outside the back door overnight. When he got up in the morning there was only one…