Running and Life – Stuart Austin

running and life

Age: 58

How did you first get into running?

My running ‘career’ started at Junior School. I grew up in Smethwick in Birmingham next to Warley Woods. My house was on one side of the woods and my school was on the other. I won the first XC series – but only because the first two runners both went the wrong way at the last turn!

I was part of a school group that ran The Birmingham Marathon in 1982 when I was 16. I did it in three and a half hours. It’s the only marathon I’ve ever done (and probably the only one I will ever do!). I remember getting to 18 miles and hitting the wall – then a spectator gave me a sip of their beer – it really gave me a boost – and from that point I found a new energy. I had no soreness afterwards and even cut the lawn at our house in the afternoon. And beer has been an important part of my life eversince.

Growing up my main interest was football and then rugby from 17 – but distance running was always present in order to keep fit. Since giving up rugby I did run the Welsh 3000’s (15 peaks over 3,000 metres) and some of the Lakeland Fells.

I discovered mountain biking by accident in 1990 – by getting lost on a tandem in the Brecon Beacons – I thought it was amazing and travelled everywhere to race and to find new mountainous areas in UK and Europe.

In 1995, Liza and I moved to live and work near Knighton. Liza was working for me part time, commuting back to Birmingham with her old job and then started running her business ‘Wild Wales’ which specialised in guided Horse Riding and Mountain Biking with B&B accommodation. It was a lot of fun and gave us something to do with all the time we had back then before children arrived.

In 2008 I was keeping a friend company on the bike whilst he was training for a triathlon and I thought I might as well have a go. As it happened my friend stopped and I got the bug. I started with Olympic distance and moved into Middle Distance – they were better value than the sprint triathlons – ie more miles/hours for your buck. I enjoy the variety of training triathlon offers and I found I was competitive at age group level. I was a member of Hereford Tri and it was hotbed of age group triathletes and I got caught up in this too representing GB in the Triathlon World Championships in Las Vegas in 2011, Spain 2012 and France in 2013. And to be honest it’s been downhill ever since!

What’s a typical running week for you?

There is no typical running week. I get to a decent level of fitness and then bang – I’m injured. Last summer I ran the Leinthal Starkes course with Kelly on a Saturday, then got knocked off my bike on Sunday. Seven broken ribs, broken collar bone and a punctured lung. And I had to cancel a sailing trip booked for the next day on a boat I had bought just before lock-down but had hardly had the chance to sail.

If I’m not injured I like to run about 15-20m a week. I’ll often do Parkrun and a club session. Unfortunately I’m having to focus on the bike at the moment because my Achilles injury has flared up again.

What’s in the diary?

Liza has entered us both into the Pembrokeshire Trail Half. Because of the injuries, I rarely book any events other than local series and club handicap.

My main ambition is to be competitive within my age group at the Herefordshire Winter and Summer leagues.

I cycle with Ludlow CC and have a wish list to do more adventure cycling. I have mapped a few routes for the summer. The last race I did was in April 2021 and the weather was brutal. I’m also hoping to race my boat a bit more.

What’s Your Most Memorable Run?

I’m going to choose the English Triathlon Championships, Cowman 2013. I finished 3rd in my age group (45-49). The Half Marathon at the end was off road and I did it in 1’33’’. I was buzzing and couldn’t sleep for a week.
Closer to home it would be the last race of last year’s Winter Cross Country Championships. I managed to finish 15 seconds behind Nigel Taylor which was really good for me. It was also the only CARC race series that I managed to complete without an injury. That’s definitely a win for me.

Any injuries you’ve struggled with?

Unfortunately my Achilles problem came back again at Ludlow park Run in December. I have had 5 Achilles surgeries between 2014 and 2018. I think a lot of these problems come about because, for many years, my sport was rugby. The mechanics for long distance running and rugby are very different. I didn’t transition from one to the other very well.

What do you most love about running?

I love that it’s quick and easy to do. I’m not into all the stuff about it being good for clearing your head. For me running is about getting better at running – getting fitter,

faster, stronger. But this is probably why I keep breaking down.

We joined Croft around 2008/9 – I enjoy all aspects of the club, the banter (mine of course), the welcome, how inclusive it is. I’ve always been a team player I guess. I’ve coached a bit too and seeing someone achieving something, whatever it might be, is something that I enjoy as much as running and competing myself. We’re very lucky living where we do – close to Bircher Common so we can get out and enjoy a run in the countryside really easily.

What do you do for a living?

We have a Marine Finance company, Promarine Finance – it’s grown steadily over the years by offering a personal bespoke alternative to the banks. It developed from a general finance business that I started in 1991. We started financing boats in 2010 with boat becoming our focus since 2018. We’ve got an office in Hereford which I need to sell because all the staff are working remotely now. I love it; it’s very rewarding and satisfying to see the joy and happiness we can bring to people. (Sounds cheesy but its true). I am lucky having a passion that I have been able to turn into a job.

Who do you live with?

With my lovely (and tolerant) wife Liza. Toby, our oldest is a Dr now – working in Birmingham. Oscar and Lucy are at University.

Have you any pets?

No. Liza has a cat – Murray. We don’t get on unless he wants to come in or he wants feeding.

Can you recommend a good book?

I’ve become a Kindle Reader. I’ll get obsessed with a book and not be able to put it down. Then, almost instantly, I’ve completely forgotten it. I tend to read books that are a series so I don’t have to make any decisions about what to read next. I have just finished a series of sailing books by Bernard Cornwell. Don’t ask me what it’s about; I can’t remember. I also love reading any sailing books fiction or biography and also books around the Lance Armstrong doping story.

Can you recommend a good film?

I said no initially – but then realised I cried after Bohemian Rhapsody, during Mama Mia, got emotional about Top Gun 1 and 2 and also No Time to Die – but I think this is down to me associating these films with an era of my life at University. A lifetime ago in every way.

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