- Meet Caitlin, she may just convert you into the runner you never thought you were !
- Towering over me at almost six feet, tall and lithe, with striking ginger hair – she makes quite the impression !
- I first met Caitlin via a friend at a cafe. After a few minutes of polite exchanges the conversation drifted to ‘ running’. Caitlin‘s eyes lit up with excitement and the rest of the afternoon was spent in an animated chat – her passion for running evident ! Caitlin is a heady cocktail of gentle charisma and a warm smile that instantly draws you into her world.I left feeling incredibly lucky to ‘run into’ someone so inspiring.
- Caitlin started her running journey about 12 years ago and it still continues. What first started as a personal goal, transformed into her setting up a running club , ‘The BeaRCat‘ in St Margarets.
- Sundays are for ‘lie-in’ right ?? or so I believed until I turned up bleary eyed at The BeaRCat club at 8.30am – desperate to see Caitlin in action on her turf ! I saw one enthusiastic face after another walk in, each delighted to greet their friends or running partners. Surprised by the large turn out ( I was later told that my estimation was conservative), it took me all of 10 minutes to figure out what it meant for the runners’ to be here.
- This was a friendly, social club which encourages people of all ages, abilities and disabilities both mental and physical. Its not just about running for Caitlin, but to also build a strong sense of community- bringing together a group of individuals who are worlds apart. Caitlin truly believes that running in fresh air is therapeutic. It has helped her and many others overcome issues physical or otherwise . Besides managing the running club, Caitlin has been actively involved in charities. She’s run many marathons and raised significant amount of funds for the relatively unknown MDS charity, a charity that she and her running club strongly support.
- As I watched Caitlin‘ in action’ , addressing the community of awestruck runners – I realised she had found her purpose in life.
- What do you do to relax
- I relax by going for walks with my husband along the river, running with my close friends or on my own, and pottering around with my children, I like just doing not very much with them if you know what I mean !
- Are you a morning person or a night owl
- There is only one answer to this question. I have always been a morning person 100% – I am well known for responding to emails at 4.30am. I wake very early and I use those couple of hours before everyone is up to get on top of work, do housework, do the jobs that I have been leaving for that early morning ‘clear headed’ spot ! I try and get out for a run or go to the gym before anyone is up – they tend not to know I have even been out. It means I can start the day having done a lot of “me” stuff already.
When and how was The BeaRCat Running Club founded
I founded it in 2012, but I had been working in the area as a Personal Trainer and Running coach for the past 10 years. It was a culmination of years of hard work and loyalty to my runners. The club may have only been open 4 years, but I worked solidly come rain or shine for the previous 10 years building my skills and reputation.
My passion is teaching people to believe they can run. Gradually I was teaching larger and larger groups of people. My dream was to open my own club but with a slightly different angle to other running clubs. I was terrified though as the two local clubs are fantastic and have been established for over 30 years, but I was trying to provide something very different to them, not to compete with them in anyway.
The words “running club” intimidate some people and I wanted to try and banish that fear and provide an environment where people could walk in and be greeted with open arms. I wanted to appeal to EVERYONE, not just those that could run. I wanted to appeal to those from the full cross section of society and to those with mental and physical disabilities. My running club ethos is that we are about “the people first, the running comes a very close second”. I believe we are all equal and should not be judged by race, house/car size, bank balance etc but on WHO WE ARE – and even then I very much teach “do not judge a book by its cover”. Just because someone is painfully shy/out going/or anything else it doesn’t mean that you both haven’t got something to learn from each other. I try and make people realise there are often reasons for the way people come across – and just because someone is quite loud, ginger, with a big nose – ME – doesn’t mean they haven’t got tons to give you!
It is called BeaRCat because my husband has The BeaRCat Comedy Club, also at The Turks Head and with the RC (running club) in the middle of the word, it just seemed like a sensible choice and to keep it in the family as it were.
What do you enjoy the most about running
I could write a book on this. I enjoy both the solitude and the companionship. I love that you see people at their best and their worst, there is no hiding from life when you run, you are in your truest form.Running changes people, yes it can change them physically BUT I DON’T MEAN THAT. People change when they have running in their lives. They gain confidence in themselves, they then take that confidence and apply it to the rest of their life. Running has given me the courage to do so many things I would never have done before.
I love that I can run anywhere, I love running on the roads in the early morning in the pitch black. I love running in beautiful parks, I love that I can take my shoes and run on holiday in Suffolk or Spain. I love that running is so HONEST, you cannot be anything other than you, when you run. I want to help people be proud of who they are as a runner, whether its a novice runner or elite. I always say we are about the individual, don’t worry about what those around you can do, just achieve what you can do “BE YOURSELF, EVERYONE ELSE IS TAKEN”. I don’t want people to be who they THINK they should be, I want to know the REAL PERSON. In that way I can teach them to run, if I know exactly who they are.
Some trashy novel, more for switch off/mind numbing time. I don’t read enough, it is a real luxury for me, so I tend to save books for on holiday and then read 3 in a week, however I do read the paper regularly. When I read, I love books on inspirational people, often just normal people that have done wonderful things. It fires me and I tend to finish the last page and sign up for something mad myself !
Best foods to eat before and after a run
Terribly normal food, scrambled egg, or porridge with berries and nuts before a long run, something with carbohydrate and protein. Then again after a long run I would try and put in a skimmed milk and chocolate powder and then a proper meal within a couple of hours. I love homemade soup and toast and just shoving bits and bobs in the soup, chicken, extra veg, that kind of thing.
Who or what inspires you
My runners inspire me, I love seeing each and every person’s journey with their running. We all struggle with it at times and then have great moments as well. However it is the small things that inspire me, the times when people stand outside running club and are too nervous to come in, thinking that we are all amazing athletes then one day, they make it through the door, that inspires me. It is the people who do their first parkrun or first mile that inspire me, of course my friends in the 100 marathon club inspire me and everyone in between who inspire me in different ways. Every single person has a story, every single person has struggled with something; death, illness, mental health issues, poor relationships, weight issues, addictions and each and every story lights a fire in me to push forward with my own life once more.
I am also inspired by the fact that life is short. I want to get on with it. I have had a few medical hiccups in my life, and know that I need to get on with it, I don’t want to leave this planet without having TRIED my best. Life could change at any second. I have learnt that quite early in my life, which I actually consider a blessing, it has taught me to “feel the fear and do it anyway”, be honest with who you are, and just try and work hard for what you want to achieve. I believe totally in honesty and hard work – what more can we do ?
The best advice you can give an amateur runner
- Please just DO IT, get those trainers on and get out of the door. Nobody else cares, nobody else is watching you. You body and your mind NEED RUNNING. Running will change your life in so many ways …. oh and come to the BeaRCat Running Club – that will be the best decision you make this year.
- Your favourite food or cuisine
- I am not a real foodie or a great cook. I like basic food, fresh fruit and veg. I like a Sunday roast with my family or if I am going out, I go to one of my best friends noodle bar in Isleworth, Hei Hing, the food is freshly cooked, varied and brilliant.
- Tell me about your charity work
- For years I have raised money for The Princess Alice Hospice as my father died there when I was 20. In the past 10 years I have spent a lot of time raising awareness for Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a disease I have close links with. It is a relatively new disease, where the bone marrow starts to malfunction and the quality of the blood deteriorates sometimes fast, sometimes slower, the only total cure for MDS is a bone marrow transplant. They are a small charity based at Kings Hospital who need all the support and raising awareness they can get. I ran a hilly marathon for them dressed in a 9ft beer bottle last year with stickers all over it about the charity. I think I have helped raise at least £40,000 for various charities and I shall carry on doing this.
- What are you most passionate about
- I am most passionate about PEOPLE, RUNNING and without sounding naff giving back to our community. I LOVE PEOPLE, I feel strongly that everyone has something to give someone else. I love putting two people together that might never meet in their everyday life. Seeing the relationships develop between people who just wouldn’t get the chance to meet normally or who wouldn’t necessarily give each other time before, is just amazing to see how one helps the other.
- Top 3 things on your wish list
- I wish to remain healthy in my life both physically and mentally. I wish to keep running for as many years as I can. Finally I wish that when I am gone my running club will continue with the strong ethos of people and community that it has now. This really, really matters to me and is something I think about a lot.
- Favourite holiday destination
- I go to a small white village in Spain called Mijas. It is simple, high up a mountain and I have been there every year of my life (as my grandmother lived there). It has beautiful mountains, beautiful people and I feel very safe and content there. The light is amazing there in winter or summer. It is my spiritual home.
- Biggest achievement/what are you most proud about
- I have been incredibly lucky with what I have achieved, but I believe anyone can if they find their true passion.
In 2015 I was awarded The Prime Ministers Point of Light Award and in 2014 I was awarded a Richmond Council Community award for contribution to sport. Both of these are moments in my life I shall never forget and left me sobbing. To be able to tell my mum (who had been very ill at the time), was just incredible ! Other amazing moments for me were reinstating The Turks Head 10km after 25 years and making it a real community day, which not only brings people together, but also helped getting 200 cheek swab donors for Delete Blood Cancer and collect well over 1,2000 bras for Zabra Afreebra Foundation. Raising large amounts of money for charity over the last 20 years matters to me and I shall always continue doing this. Being invited to be The Race Director of The Cabbage Patch 10 , Twickenham’s largest running event that has been going for 35 years (it was actually the first event I ever entered/ran in and now I am in charge of it). Running in a beer bottle over a very hilly marathon and raising large amounts of money and awareness for MDS Patients Support Group – oh and singing in the chorus of The Magic Flute in the Milan Festival, but that is another story …
* Photo Credits – Charlotte Krag www.charlottekrag.com