From being the next budding Kevin Dalglish, it was parkrun scout, Roy Taylor who spotted Simon Coppard’s potential as a Hedgehopper. Here Simon shares his running memories and more.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Brighton and lived near Queens Park in the days when you could quite happily play in the Street with hardly any cars parked up, if you went there now there are cars both sides of the road. Just round the corner was a green we used to go to to play football, cricket and all manner of games, when I was little the green appeared quite large, having seen it now, it’s tiny!
When did you first start running?
Like most people my running started at school and was entered into the schools cross county race at Stanmer Park by my PE teacher to my horror! I loved football, I was to be the next Jimmy Case, Teddy Maybank, Kevin Keegan or Kenny Dalglish! Although I did like the 800 and 1500 distances this was most likely from inspiration of Seb Coe and Steve Ovett.
What made you start running?
I started running after watching the first Brighton Marathon in 2010, I was amazed at how great it looked! You had the elites coming through first, followed by all kinds of abilities, it really was sensational and inspired me to start running.
Although it wasn’t until June after a friend at work called Grant mentioned how he too was inspired and was going to start parkrun at Hove Park, so armed with my barcode I went along and absolutely loved it.
How many years have you been running for?
I didn’t get into running until I was 40, so now approaching my 11th year running so bit of a late comer to it really.
When did you join the Hedgehoppers and why/what made you become a regular?
I joined the Hedgehopper in 2011 thanks to parkrun, parkrun has lovely, friendly atmosphere, everyone is always so happy, turning up when I was able, I then met several Hoppers without knowing it!
The person who was so encouraging was Roy, if he wasn’t running he would always be shouting out the time not far from the finish and certainly helped me to put more effort in for the final sprint. Roy is a great encourager regardless of ability, I always remember when I first broke the magical sub 20 he said I was a proper runner now (not that you’re not if you don’t of course, Roy knew what that meant to me at the time).
It was from parkruns that Roy invited me to come along on a Tuesday evening and the rest is history.
Best thing about being a Hopper?
The best thing about being a hopper is running with such lovely people, since moving away and shift work I don’t get to meet up on a Tuesday anymore which is a shame, and I keep saying I’ll make more of an effort to get there on occasions which hasn’t materialised, I still attend races when I can, I love the WSFRL such a great race series, despite not being able to make all the races anymore somehow I have always made the Downland Dash and once the Wivelsfield Wobble before that!
Also I’m thankful to so many Hoppers for helping me to become a runner and to help me progress, I’m so grateful your all so fantastic!
Favourite running memory i.e. that WOW moment?
I was never very good good with Marathons, always blowing up at mile 16 and leaving me with ten miles of pure hell, I finally got it right in Paris 2019. Everything went well on the day and I knew I was on for a good time and the experience was incredible, that was despite walking thousands of miles before the event doing touristy things!
I have a second and that was to finish first at Hove Prom parkrun of course all the top super fast runners were away that day!
What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run?
The marathon is my longest distance.
Favourite running event and why?
As much as I loved Paris, Beachy Head Marathon was my favourite
Do you have a nickname and how did you come by it?
At school to my friends I was known either as ‘blue’ or ‘siboy’.
Please tell us one thing about yourself that people may not know?
I used to play the trumpet or cornet, my parents were Salvationists and I used to play in the Salvation Army Band although not very good.