Nice Work Runner Story- Gareth Jones

When race director, Mark Brocklehurst, spotted a runner wearing a pink tutu at a Nice Work event, he was compelled to enquire about the tale behind the tutu.  We were so impressed by Gareths' story, we just had to share it with you!

Here's what Gareth told us:

How did you first get into running?

My first real experience of running came after my transplant. It all began when I set my sights on participating in the British Transplant Games and completing their 5k run. I started the Couch to 5k program on my own, thinking I could skip ahead, but my first 5k race taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of proper training. Convinced that I could improve, I joined the Heathfield Road Runners' C25K group and committed to attending every session. From there, I became a member of the club and embraced the challenge of various races, starting with the Hastings 5 mile and then the Sussex Grand Prix series.

Although I never considered myself a fast runner, I shifted my focus towards endurance, conquering half marathons, marathons, and even a 50k race. Mentally, the 50k was particularly draining, prompting me to rethink my approach. This year, I decided to give back to the running community by becoming a Run Leader for my local club. The experience has been incredibly rewarding.

 How do you stay motivated?

What I have been through motivates me. Reflecting on my journey, I can't help but think of the obstacles I overcame and the motivations that drive me. In 2015, I received a diagnosis of liver growths, which led to the realisation that a transplant was necessary to save my life. After fifteen months of tests, being monitored and waiting anxiously, I finally received the life-changing call and underwent the transplant surgery at King's Hospital. The recovery process was arduous, but I was determined to walk out of the hospital on my own two feet. I vividly remember a moment during my hospital stay when I couldn't walk as far as the previous day and my wife was helping me to walk. However, instead of giving up, I pushed myself to go further the next day. This determination to come back stronger resonates deeply with my running journey. Not every run is great, but you can always come back stronger next time.

What are your key moments?

Without a doubt walking out of the hospital after my transplant was amazing, the pride of completing a 20-minute straight run during the C25K program, the joy of hanging up my first running medal at home after wearing it all day at work and crossing the finish line of a 50k to see a pizza van standing by are all incredible memoments in my running journey.

The time I went from DNF to medal also springs to mind! I was eleven miles into the Rye Ancient Trails and for the first time I found myself muttering those words, "I think I am done". The hot weather had taken its toll.  Cramp was setting in and I found myself laying at the side of the road feeling faint.

I got myself settled and managed, with some help, to get back up and head to the next aid station which was just a little further down the road, I was met by the medics who did a great job of checking me over, I took my time and refuelled; I wanted the get across that finish line so any thoughts of discomfort were put to one side.  I was in this moment because of one person’s wishes to be a donor. I felt good in myself and so, with a head full of determination, we got it done. A ended up with a medal around my neck and a great feeling of success.

 Do you run for Charity?

I run races wearing a pink tutu and at one race, I encountered the Nice Work team, who were curious about the tutu. Their interest led to a pleasant surprise – a chance to win £100. Rather than keeping the prize for myself, I pledged to donate it to the Kent, Sussex, and Surrey Air Ambulance. Although I've never needed their services, they play a crucial role in providing access to remote running locations and offer services like no other.

 What is your favourite piece of running equipment?

 My Salomon pack, everything seems to be in the right place, and it is super comfortable.

 Do you prefer Road or Trail?

I absolutely love the trails, especially those winding through the woods.

 Would you rather hilly or flat runs?

 I prefer the challenge and pace of hills.

 What is your favourite running distance?

 Half marathons are my preference, recovery isn't too much of an issue and fuelling is simpler than anything longer.

 What running food do you like?

 I always carry a couple of fig rolls, my go-to biscuit during runs.

 Which is the best, morning, or evening run?

 I am quite grumpy in the morning and never want to go out too early, so it’s got to be evening runs for me.

 What is the impact of your transplant on running?

Thankfully, my transplant doesn't hinder my running. I must take pills at certain times, apart from that staying fit is best for my body.

 Do you have any post-transplant restrictions?

I'm not allowed to engage in contact sports, and grapefruit is off-limits due to its interaction with my medication.  I take four pills a day, two of which are to prevent rejection of my body rejecting the transplant.

So, what is next?

 Looking ahead, I have several goals in mind. One race that has eluded me is the Bewl 15, and I've already marked it on my calendar for 2024. Of course, as always, the pink tutu will be a part of my race attire. Besides specific races, I also plan to explore more of the UK countryside through running. There's so much beauty to discover beyond my local Sussex routes.

The Nice Work team will keep watching out for the pink tutu and look forward to seeing Gareth at one of our events again soon!