Claire Bunting

This is my running story.  When I was 8 years old I lived in Colchester in Essex, I used to watch the squaddies doing assault courses etc and they inspired me.  I knew I was quite fast, well me 12821541_10156622612440092_8069897164093907751_nand my twin brother Paul were, so we entered Colchester fun run.  It was a 3 mile run and I came in 2nd place, my brother came first.  It remember watching the Olympics,  watching Steve Cram, Steve Ovette and Daley Thompson that did it for me I never forgot them.

Once my Dad left the forces we came to live in sunny Doncaster , I was still running and entered a running event in Cleckheaton that was a hilly run, but I loved it.  At this point I was a pupil at Wheatley Hills Middle School.  Whilst there I won Sports Girl award and my name was placed on a memorial board,  I felt so honoured.   I was captain  for St Davids (Yellow House at the school) which was awesome and a highlight was having Mr Knott and Mrs Wildey as our PE teacher.  Then off I went up to big school!  Still into sports and Mr Mason was a great PE teacher. I was also going to the youth club where I discovered that I excelled at Cross Country, Athletics, Basketball, Net Ball and playing pool. So you could say I was definitely not a girlie girl!

Once I left school  I gave up sports and got my first job at Goldsmiths, I had a boyfriend, moved in together and became pregnant.  Unfortunately there was no happy ending, I became a victim of domestic violence, it took courage but I managed to get myself and my baby out of this terrible situation.  I lived back with my parents until I got a home and fought to conquer PTSD with the help of my family and friends.  This is where sport came back into my life, I was too scared to leave the house for many years but with support I started a Body Blitz class at our local sports centre and loved it! I was hooked, gaining confidence and getting stronger (although I was size 4, I’ve still got the bright green Nike shorts as proof!)

During my early 20’s I was a single mum who loved her son more than anything, but then I became ill and suffered from pernicious anaemia. This caused me to have a lot of fatigue but things looked up when I then found myself a home,  a safe one.  At this point I was still going to the Gym, but then my eyes stopped working. I was panicked to say the least, hospital visit here I come.  I was then told I had shadows all over my brain,  I cried and cried.   My family started to plan who would be my sons new parents, funeral arrangements, even as far as picking songs.  Later, when I was finally diagnosed with MS I actually shook the consultants hand and thanked him!  Mainly because I knew I would see my son grow up, I knew I could fight what ever was thrown at me.  The diagnosis of MS was a battle,  I lost a lot of friends and basically I came to realize they weren’t  friends after all.

Reality settled in and it was OK, I thought to myself “What can I do? I can live, I can set myself dreams!”.  I started hiking, walking 3 times a week each time 10 miles, even though I was in pain I was determined to succeed.  I learned to read maps etc. and I climbed Scarfell Pike,  which was so hard but I did it!  I still want to climb Ben Nevis and that will happen one day 🙂   During this time I was still going to the gym.  My right shoulder was really painful after numerous steroid jabs and I decided to have corrective surgery this 2 years ago, during the Six Nations Rugby.

In my head  I still feel 21 but I have a  wrecked body, I’m always on meds and to be truly honest I don’t remember what it’s  like to be healthy.  After the surgery my eyes failed on me, I had 3 relapses, I was banging into things, burning myself, I was even seeing things.  One day I even asked “Why is that plane being towed?!”  really why did I say that??  well I find I say funny things a lot.

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Gemma guiding me at the Doncaster Parkrun

This is where my journey at Doncaster Pacers began.   Last year I was watching The Great North Run on TV,  saying to myself “I’m doing that next year so how do I start?” I have some lovely friends Ann and her husband Phil and their daughter Nichola, they were involved in the club.  I asked questions and they put me in touch with Martin, who I went to school with (small world!).  I was invited to run with Martin, I explained about my issues so we ran with a sock, Martin as my guide,  holding one end and me the other.  By now I wanted to run more,  but it’s so hard when you’re partially sighted and still coming to terms with it.   I did run though, I have r10254990_10156622614245092_1115341182287983877_nan with many of terrific Guides at Doncaster AC and I graduated from their beginners running course in 2015. I was so pleased I could run 30 minutes without stopping, so this was it was hooked!  My son is a student at University in Manchester,  I told him that if there was a run there I would do it.   On Feb 28 2016 and did my first official 10k, as promised it was in Manchester,  with my old best friend from school Anne, we ran for Cancer research and I raised over £300. I have more 10k’s lined up (my next one is the Gainsborough 10k with guide runner Susan Beeby) and because I promised myself after watching it on TV, I am running GNR with Sally Wheelhouse as my guide, I am nervous, excited, you name it!

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I fight my illness everyday and it makes me so strong , I wanna live, embrace everything, hear the crowds. I would never have thought I would ever have ran again,  but I think losing something precious changes you and this has changed me for the better.  I love to run no matter how hard it is, from sofa to where I am now is all down to the awesome Doncaster Pacers for helping me, I’ve met some lovely ladies who I now call my extra family.

So this is my story,  training for a half marathon am I mad /crazy? No I’m enjoying the ride I am on!

Finally, thank you Everybody who has picked me up to take me running you’re all stars in every way.