HEALTHY LIVING: Join run to shake post-Olympic blues

Michelle Waring-Smith with daughter Heidi
Michelle Waring-Smith with daughter Heidi
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WE are bereft.

Across Britain people are waking up from an Olympics hangover, wondering what to do with the rest of the summer, how to fill that gaping sports hole in our lives.

For those 16 glorious golden days we cheered on our athletes, caught up in their battles, engrossed in their stories.

We became experts in the intricacies of handball, the rules of judo, and the complexities of rhythmic gymnastics.

But now it is over.

Rather than wondering why there seems to be so little on the television without all those dedicated Olympics channels, thousands of people in Sheffield are filling the gap by emulating the great athletes we fell in love with.

The elite runners get under way

The elite runners get under way

On Sunday, September 2 up to 8,000 runners will take to the streets of Sheffield for the city’s sixth Great Yorkshire Run.

Already 4,000 people have signed up to the 10km race - and they are busy in training.

Sports-mad mum Michelle Waring-Smith will be completing a unique challenge on the day.

The 32-year-old will be running her tenth 10km in a year, a challenge she dreamed up to raise money for Sheffield Children’s Hospital to thank them for saving her daughter’s life.

She has taken part in races in Dronfield, the Rother Valley, the Sheffield Lord Mayor’s 10km, Holymoorside, and Graves Park, among others.

But September 2 will be full circle for Michelle, a sports lecturer at Chesterfield College, who started the challenge by running the Great Yorkshire Run last year.

She decided to raise money for the hospital after her daughter Heidi was born eight weeks prematurely with a twisted bowel.

Michelle said: “For her to be born so prematurely was a big enough shock but then we were also told there was a chance she might not make it.”

Heidi, now aged two, needed an operation when she was only a few days old where her bowel was temporarily replaced with a small colostomy bag, an operation which was reversed by surgeons two months later.

The little tot spent 14 weeks in hospital - three at the Jessop Wing and a further 11 weeks at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, including four weeks on the intensive care unit.

Nearly 100 people have signed up to run for the hospital, which fundraisers think is largely down to the backing of their patron, the city’s own golden girl Jessica Ennis.

Tonya Kennedy, fundraiser at the Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’re very lucky to have someone as inspirational as our Jess Ennis fronting our Run with Us campaign.

“People have all kinds of reasons for supporting us and they’re all helping us to make our amazing hospital even better.”

Also lining up on Arundel Gate on September 2 will be Joy Speed.

The 22-year-old is running for Weston Park cancer hospital in memory of her mum Gillian.

Joy was aged just four when her mum was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994.

She underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Weston Park was given the all clear in 1998, but the cancer returned three years later.

Gillian had further treatment but sadly died in 2005, aged 55, when Joy was 15 years old.

Joy, who has just finished a teaching degree at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “The level of care that my mum and our whole family received at Weston Park was always really good and the staff were fantastic.

“My mum and I used to do the Race for Life every year and I think she’d be really proud that I’m doing the Bupa Great Yorkshire Run this year and carrying on fundraising in her memory.”

Joy, who has three brothers and whose dad, Brian, lives down the road from her in Millhouses, said: “It was really hard when my mum passed away but having family round really helped us all.

“Weston Park does such great work for people living with cancer and their families so I just want to give them something back.”

Helen Gentle, fundraiser at Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, said: “We are so grateful to Joy for choosing to support the cancer charity in memory of her mum.

“The Bupa Great Yorkshire Run is always a fantastic race with a great atmosphere and we’re delighted to once again be the official regional charity for this exciting event.

“The funds raised by runners like Joy really will make a big difference to the lives of cancer patients in this region.”

Two and half years ago there’s no way Steven Bond could have run 10km.

Weighing a massive 31.5 stone, Steven was told he could face surgery if he didn’t start to change his lifestyle.

“It was a bit of a scare,” said Steven, aged 38, of Renishaw.

“I decided things had to change and I started to alter my diet and to start exercising.”

Now, having lost more than a third of a body weight, he is a slimline 18.5 stone.

And on September 2 he will be lining up on Arundel Gate with his girlfriend Karen.

“When you’re losing weight you’ve got to set yourselves goals, and this was a big one for me,” he said.

“Training is going well - I’ve run 10km in the gym so I know I can do it.

“But I’m still a big guy, so this is a real challenge for me.”