From left to right: Andy Middlebrooke (Exercise Science Consulting), Michael Farley, Joanna Coombes-Smart, Kirstie Parnell, Nic Percivall, Andrew Fry (University of Exeter Sport)

A Great West challenge for sedentary staff

Four members of staff from the University of Exeter are donning their running shoes for the first time, with a big challenge of competing a half marathon in May. 

The intrepid runners will take part in the Great West run, after training in the University sports facilities.

The University has joined up with Andy Middlebrooke of Exercise Science Consulting and the team at Ironbridge Runner Events to help train and motivate the staff members. The four volunteers are currently living a sedentary lifestyle and want to get more active in the long term.  

They are:

  • Johanna Coombes-Smart, aged 38 from Exminster, a finance assistant in the School of Biosciences and mother to a teenage girl, who will be running in aid of Help for Heroes.
  • Michael Farley, aged 28 from Exeter, an information officer in Personnel, running in aid of Shelterbox. 
  • Nic Percivall, aged 36 from Exeter, a teaching fellow in History, running for Shelter
  • Kirstie Parnell, 39 from Otterton a research technician at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry and mother of two, running for a multiple sclerosis charity.

Andrew Fry from University of Exeter Sport says: “We’re giving them a goal, a real target and the support of professionals to help them enjoy sport and activity. We’re confident that they will not only complete the half marathon, but surprise themselves with their times.”

Runner Kirstie Parnell says: “Training is going well, I’m managing to do some road running and also fitting in a couple of gym sessions in each week. I am feeling much fitter already and really looking forward to the next few months of preparation for the GWR.”

The four will be training at the gym at the University’s Sports Park as well as pounding the pavements around campus and the city as the evenings get lighter.

University of Exeter sport website will have a blog from the team and give updates on their progress, as well as a Facebook group ‘University of Exeter Great West runners’.  

The Great West Run is in Exeter on Sunday 2 May. 3,000 runners will compete in the event, now in its 26th year. 

Date: 12 February 2010