The girl from the midlands shares her story of how the number crunching world of accountancy led to her joining the mighty Hedgehoppers. Here Sonia Edwards tells 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 the Midlands. My Mum and two sisters and their families still live there/ Staffordshire. I left in 1985 to go to Lancaster University and as part of my course spent a year living in France, teaching English in a Lycee in Amiens (between Calais and Paris) and spending the summer before and after working for Canvas Holidays on campsites in the Vendee on the west coast and Loire Valley.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a job but had ruled out teaching after narrowly escaping being punched by one of my students for telling him he had to speak English. I decided on accountancy which I thought would get me a useful qualification and I could then go back and live in France.
Having come from the Midlands and experienced the North, I thought I would see what the South had to offer so decided to apply for jobs there. Being busy with my finals, I accepted the first job offered at a medium sized accountancy firm in Haywards Heath and a really grotty but cheap bedsit in Hova Villas, Hove (in case you didn’t know!), the first I viewed as I was starting my job a couple of days later. That was 1989 and I have been here ever since, never did make it back to France!
When did you first start running?
At school and university, I was a swimmer. I could swim for miles (well 2 miles was the farthest I ever swam but I could have carried on!) however I could never understand how to breath when running, not sure I do now! I used to do a bit of jogging as a teenager and when I first came to Brighton but was more of a walker. Jogging was popular last century! I did a Race For Life 5k, packed in the expensive and noisy health club devoid of fresh air and re-started jogging solo on a regular basis in about 2011. In 2014 I discovered parkrun and suppose, mixing with other runners, I then probably considered myself to be a runner rather than a jogger.
What made you start running?
It is easier to put on some trainers and go for a run from home rather than driving to a gym or swimming pool. I much prefer exercising outdoors and feel it’s better for mental health. You always feel better after a run, unless you fall over and hurt yourself, of course. Also, because I can run, I believe I should; use it or lose it!
How many years have you been running for?
Off and on since my teens but more regularly about 10 years.
When did you join the Hedgehoppers and why/what made you become a regular?
After doing parkrun most weeks for a while, I worked out that running clubs existed which catered for people who weren’t bordering on being elite athletes. I was telling a friend who worked with Peter Hedgehopper that I was investigating joining a running club and she suggested contacting him to ask about the one he went to. I already knew who Peter was through the accountancy world so emailed him to ask if I would be able to keep up and went along to my first Tuesday session on 6 January 2015. Everyone was really friendly and I liked that there was an array of abilities.
Best thing about being a Hopper?
The camaraderie, particularly at the Fun Runs and knowing that even us slower ones can make a contribution to the position of our team. Also, running together on the Downs in the nice weather is great.
Favourite running memory i.e. that WOW moment?
My favourite non running, running related memory is the day I came home from work to see the London Marathon magazine “You are In” on the doormat. It was so exciting! I couldn’t believe it after only two prior ballot rejections; lots don’t get a place after far more applications. It was a bit of a joke keeping applying; I never thought I would get a place and feel fortunate that I did. It then dawned on me that I had already entered Brighton marathon which was to take place two weeks before. I did them both.
My favourite actual running memory was probably finishing the Eastbourne Half Marathon and feeling like my legs were going to collapse beneath me. It was the first proper “race” I did and it felt like a big achievement. Val and Stewart were there too. Val wasn’t running, Stewart finished 3rd, I think, about 50 minutes ahead of me (which sounds quite good!)
What’s the longest distance you’ve every run?
Beachy Head Marathon twice, which is slightly longer than a marathon, in very slow times as a fair amount of walking and picnicking at the well stocked aid stations took place. That probably doesn’t count then, I’ll go for the other marathons – Brighton three times and London.
Favourite running event and why?
Perhaps Brighton Marathon as there is such a great atmosphere amongst the participants and the supporters. As a runner, it’s quite emotional seeing people you know and people you don’t all rooting for you, many thinking you are quite athletic and as a spectator, it is fun tracking people you know and giving them a cheer and emotional watching people pushing themselves to achieve their goals although I’m not so keen on the sound of the ambulance sirens! One year I volunteered and was given the job of dishing out the foil blankets. I was very close to the area where the TV cameras were. Seeing the Kenyan athletes coming in and immediately having a microphone shoved into their faces was special to watch.
Do you have a nickname and how did you come by it?
Not really but I sometimes think of myself as Sonic (The Hedgehog). I think a client misspelled my name once and I like hedgehogs!
Please tell us one thing about yourself that people may not know?
I am a member of the Long Distance Walking Association. The toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken is the 72 odd mile Isle of Wight Coastal Path in less than 24 hours which somehow I have managed to complete on two occasions. I suspect the main reasons were that I was determined to do it and there was fantastic support from some volunteers/ friends.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Apparently Eddie Izzard said “Do I like running? No. But the stopping is amazing!” That strikes a chord with me!
I am grateful to everyone who makes the Hoppers such a lovely Club and particularly to the committee members who do so much to make it all happen.