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iTAB Star, Aug 2022

Jackie Gilbert from Southport, Uk.

“The medals are nice, but the feeling is better.”

iTAB Star Jackie is a loud and proud Vegan Runner who loves her off road ultras and her local running club Southport Strollers. Covid may have interrupted her event running, but it gave her valuable time to improve her fitness on the roads and now she can’t wait to get back on the trail.

‘I think it’s the freedom, just because you can go anywhere and run anywhere. You just put the trainers on and go. Anywhere you are you can run, and that’s what I like about it.’

Jackie, on the best thing about running.

Hey Jackie!

Hey iTAB!

So, why do you run?

I think I’d go insane if I didn’t run. I can’t keep still unless I’m watching Netflix, that’s the only time you’ll catch me sitting still. I just love being outdoors and for mental health. I get really stressed if I’m cooped in. Lockdown was horrific, not being able to go out, I really struggled with that. Not being able to run with my friends and just go anywhere where you could so yeah, I think for me it’s more mental health.

What music do you listen to when running?

I don’t listen to music. I listen to books and podcasts. I like the women’s running one just because they talk about a load of rubbish. They hardly talk about running but they’re really funny so that keeps me laughing, so I like that one.

When do you run?

I tend to run in the evening, but I prefer mornings because I’ve run this morning for the first time in probably about six months, I got up at five and went for a run. It’s just nice gets you ready for the day.

Best run ever?

Oh, this is tricky. It’s got to be when I’m on the trails. I think Ullswater 20, it was a race I did last year with me and my friend, it was just epic, it was hard but it was really good.

How does running make you feel?

I feel good overall at the time, sometimes not very good. It’s hard when it’s hot. But I never regret a run ever. I always feel really good after.

Best thing about running?

I think it’s the freedom, just because you can go anywhere and run anywhere. You just put your trainers on and go. Anywhere you are you can run, and that’s what I like about it.

Greatest running achievement?

It’s a really tricky one, there are so many. I think it was probably my first ultra. I think it was going past that marathon point. Yeah, I think that has got to be my biggest achievement.

When you get tired what stops you from quitting?

I always just think about the next mile. So, it’d be like okay, run this next mile and just think of somebody or something for this whole mile. And I’ll just focus on that. It just keeps me going, just focusing on something specific. So, family, kids, or just a memory or anything, it sounds really silly but one mile at a time.

Why run an event?

I think it’s just the atmosphere and seeing everybody doing what you want to do. I always seem to enjoy a run more when it’s an event, I think it must be the atmosphere seeing the crowds and the finish line, that keeps you going because you know you’ve got to cross it. Yeah, events are good.


What was your London Landmarks experience like?

Oh, that was amazing. Most of the events that I do are pretty small and quiet, but London Landmarks is huge. Every inch of the course has supporters and entertainment and cheer squads. You had signs given you historical points of view to look at, and the atmosphere was just buzzing. Something else. I guess it’s kind of like London Marathon. I’ve never run London Marathon but I’m guessing the atmosphere similar. You know, I think London is just a quite good like that. They all come out no matter if you’re a runner or not they’re there, just supporting. Brilliant.


What are your future running goals?

Back to Ultras. I’ve had over two years of shorter road marathons just getting faster and getting a bit more confident, because I’m not very confident that I can always finish. So, over the last two years I’ve gained a lot of that. I know I can finish, it’s just how fast now. It’s going to be really nice at the end of this year once Chester Marathon’s over to go back to trails and Ultras and not care about time, and not have a training plan. So completely different to the last two years.


How important is your time when running an event?

To be fair, it’s not that important. And I think I think sometimes it can really ruin the time you’re having. I’ve just done the 10k on Sunday and it was red hot, and it’s my PB course that I ran in November. It would have been lovely to get a PB but it just wasn’t happening. So I just run with my mate, which I don’t normally do for the 10ks and we just we just had a laugh instead. So, it’s just about enjoying it. I think. I think you can get caught up in the PB for every race scenario.

‘If you check out my Instagram you’ll see I’ve had every hair colour you can imagine, and my friend Lindsey is the same. We stand out in a race, or even when we’re running locally, so yeah, I love crazy hair.’

Jackie, on her colourful hair.

How important is the medal?

I don’t know. I keep all my medals, I’ve got every single one and I keep all my bib numbers as well, which people think I’m a bit weird. I keep them and I write the date and my times on the, not that times are important but it’s just like a little record and I stick them in a little file. Medals are nice, but the feeling is better.

What advice would you give to first-time runners?

Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you prefer to run with someone join local running club, I think that’s a really good thing. Parkrun, that’s amazing, you’ll meet people there and then you’ll start to run with people. If you prefer to run on your own, just run somewhere that you like. If you’re in a city and it’s all busy, don’t run there, go and find a park or something. Just try and pull out all the positives before you get out the door, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Just keep going it’s gonna feel hard. I have runs now and I think oh, this is so hard and I probably run better marathons and I’ll go out and do a 5k and it’s just like, oh, this is really awful. Not every day is going to be perfect, but just keep going.

Do you have days when the body just says no?

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I take a couple of miles to warm up. So 5ks are really not very great for me because I’m just getting into it as I’m finishing. But yeah, like this morning. I’ve not gotten up at five in the morning for a long time and met friends and you know, we had bags under eyes but once we got going and finished I was home by seven, it’s amazing.

What would you say about all the amazing volunteers?

Oh, they’re amazing. Yeah. I would say to anyone who hasn’t volunteered for an event, go and volunteer because seeing the other side of it makes you really appreciate what goes on for you to do that race. I don’t volunteer for parkrun, because I don’t have Saturday’s off, but we do try and volunteer for a lot of RunThrough events. It’s just amazing being on the other side. I mean, the work that goes into it. They have a big headache, especially when things sort of go wrong, but they’re amazing, massive applause to them. Definitely.


Do you belong to a running club?

I’m actually in two running clubs. My first claim club is Vegan Runners because I’m a vegan and I’ve run with them for years now. So, every race I do well I’ll have my vegan running top, I’m quite proud. I love it when people cheer you on because you’re a vegan runner, it’s quite extra special. But I’m also part of my local club, Southport strollers, they’re amazing. I think there’s a good 150 members that are so supportive with events and training and just if you need to chat they’re brilliant, so I’m quite lucky that I’ve got to two clubs.


What are the benefits of joining a running club?

Vegan Runners are national, so we don’t really have local meetups, especially in the northwest. I know London and Manchester are really good for that, but we don’t have many where I live. So, when I go to an event there’s always a vegan runner there. You’re always gonna have a chat, and meet new people. Obviously, there’s a Facebook group as well so that’s really nice as there’s loads of support on there. But with a local running club you can just go and run, and you never have to run alone. We have a little Whatsapp group so there’s always people posting up runs, or even for support or if people are struggling they’ll put a post up, it’s just an amazing community. I think that is the key as well. I think if you’re struggling with running, find your running community, whether it’s a Facebook group or a physical group or anything because it does really, really does help. Definitely.


Have you ever made any random race friends?

It does quite a lot to be honest. I think when you running you tend to tell a stranger your life story, don’t you? I’ve had it quite a few times where I’ve just talked about anything and everything with this person that I don’t even know, and then you never see them again. It’s just a unique race thing.


We love your hair, is it permanently pink ?

If you check out my Instagram you’ll see I’ve had every hair colour you can imagine, and my friend Lindsey is the same. We’re pretty crazy, we wear a lot of bright socks and things like that. We stand out in a race or even when we’re running locally, so yeah, I love crazy hair.


Thanks Jackie, you’re a star!

Jackie runs for:

Vegan Runners

Southport Strollers


If you want to follow in Jackie’s footsteps here are some of the events she has completed:

Punk Panther

London Landmarks Half Marathon

Cybi Coastal Marathon