17th July 2017
We love a story of transformation and it’s fair to say that Lee Kemp is a very different man to the one he was two years ago.
It was at the end of 2015 and weighing in at 17 stone that Lee’s running journey really started, spurred on by a desire to lose weight and get fit. Lee recalls entering his first 5K and thinking that he wouldn’t be able to get round – but he did, and the pride he felt at this enormous achievement sparked his love of running. 18 months later and Lee is now a marathon runner, an ultra-marathon runner, a UKRunChat ambassador and a true example of how if you believe in yourself, you can do it.
“Starting to run was a breath of fresh air,” admits Lee. “I didn’t know where it would take me, but I was inspired to carry on and I have achieved so much in a relatively short amount of time. I absolutely love running and that is key; if you enjoy something it is easier to keep going and it motivates you on to achieve more.”
So it is that Lee went from running 5K to entering 10K, half marathons and eventually marathons.
He has 57 medals to show for it and weighs 5 stone less on the scales, his greatest achievements being the 2017 OPAP Limassol Marathon GSO, the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon and the Brighton Marathon.
It is Limassol that stands out as being his favourite race of all, however. “The OPAP Limassol Marathon GSO is my number one race and I am already looking forward to going back next year with UKRunChat, who are offering a great package deal,” says Lee.
“It has so much going for it. The beautiful weather and the stunning course along Limassol’s coast are just for starters. What really struck me was the amazing community spirit among runners, with everyone coming together over the course of the weekend to celebrate running. We were really well looked after, with a pasta party put on for us the night before the marathon and plenty of opportunity to chill out with other runners at the end. I made running friends who I have stayed in touch with and I enjoyed a fabulous week’s holiday with my family. I have to admit I had withdrawal symptoms when I got home as it had been such a memorable and fantastic experience!”
Popular endurance runner Susie Chan was one of the runners that Lee met in Limassol, and they will be among the many UK runners returning in 2018 to #RunLimassol. The race has put in place a range of flexible, low-cost packages for overseas visitors and the UK presence at Cyprus’ biggest sporting event is expected to be better than ever.
It’s clear that Lee is always looking forward to the next challenge and I ask where his passion for running will take him next.
“I’d like to get my times down further,” he confirms, “and there are certain races that I would love to do, like the Virgin Money London Marathon. I’d also like to increase my distances. The furthest I have run is a 50K ultra marathon and I’d like to think I could get to 100K – Susie Chan has recommended the Centurion Running Wendover Woods 50 race in November, a 50-miler which would be a perfect stepping stone between the two.”
Yet despite wanting to get his times down, and despite his 10K PB being an impressive 41:55 and his marathon PB 3:26, Lee is quick to say that it’s not always about how fast you go – especially if you’re just starting out, as he was not so long ago.
My advice to anyone would be not to worry about your time,” he states. “It’s all about completing the distance and thinking how amazing you’ll feel at the end. What time you do it in isn’t really important. What is important is believing in yourself and believing that you can do it. Just pace yourself, stay hydrated and stick with it – even on the days it’s not going so well you’ll get the endorphins! Everyone is on their own journey and the support from the community is unbelievable…that’s what I love about running.”
Lee’s positive outlook is certainly infectious and we wish him all the best as he continues to live the dream and see where his running journey takes him.