Runner Profile – Fran Jeffery

Fran Jeffery was never into sport at school – and even now, she doesn’t like team games!  As  youngster, she got her exercise through horse riding and hiking with her father, and she worked on Duke of Edinburgh Awards.  Later, she did an occasional 5k Race for Life, which is where so many people start, and she was also into long distance walking.  Fran had read an article about a man who completed the Cleveland Way in under 24 hour – it had taken her a week – and this really piqued her interest!  It was at work that she met former club members Peter Wragg and Catriona Gaudie, who told her that as she was “tall and skinny”, she would make a runner.  They suggested she get in touch with Rob Burn, who is Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers through and through!  This she duly did, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Her first session was one of the twice weekly meetings at Thirsk School, and the warm welcome she received had her hooked.  Coming 2nd in her first Christmas Handicap gave her even more of a spur, and she soon found herself doing cross country races.  She preferred muddy fields to tarmac, and was finding out about trail and fell running, though was yet to try it.  It took a long time to improve, and to learn to love running, which is hard and never seems to get any easier, but the benefits were immeasureable, and the social contact was very important.  In 2012 she became club secretary, a post she held for 7 years.  She must have done a good job, as it has taken 2 people to replace her and fill the roles she was doing!  She was on the organising committee of Thirsk 10 for a few years, and is always available if help is needed with any aspect of club life. 

Her first fell race was the Gribdale Gallop in 2011, and she stood on the start line with some trepidation, shaking like a leaf, as she says.  She got round in one piece, and from there, she never looked back.  The more hills, mud, distance, the better, and a year later, she completed her first marathon, the tough off road Osmotherly Pheonix – what a toughie to start with!  Since then, she has done many fell races, marathons, and some ultra running, the furthest being 55 miles, all off road.  Her attempt at 100 miles ended in failure, and the training involved for such a distance is gruelling and takes over your life. 

Fran’s latest venture is “streaking” – running every day for a year, a minimum of a mile in not more than 15 minutes.  So far this year, she has completed 1300 miles and is still going strong.  She maybe won’t quite reach Ron Hill’s achievement – he has been doing it for 50 years, but she will continue as long as injury and life don’t intervene.  She says the running community has introduced her to things she didn’t know existed, she’s been to places not seen by many, and experienced such highs you’d think she was on drugs!  The friendships that evolve from running with someone for hours on end, night and day, and seeing them when they were at their most vulnerable are without comparison.

“And all because I made that phone call to Rob!”

Fran Jeffery at a Gribdale Gallop Fell Race.

Leave a Reply

Error thrown

Call to undefined function split()