Why do you run, Ian McCullough?

About Ian

Welcome to a blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

I’m so excited to introduce you to Ian. This guy is one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to running. I’ve known Ian for many years, and we even ran together in Ireland for a time. Those were some of my first experiences running. However, back then I would never have considered myself a runner.

Since moving to the US, I don’t see Ian much in person, but I follow him on Strava and the man never stops moving. He’s either running, hill walking, skiing or cycling somewhere across Ireland and central Europe.

As I often say to Liz, “I want to be like Ian when I grow up…”. I hope to be still running and enjoying the outdoors as long as him. Thanks for your story, Ian!

Why did you start running?

I stopped playing rugby in my mid-thirties when the pain/enjoyment balance started tilting in the wrong direction. A couple of years later I realised I would soon be 40 (horrors!) and the mirror told me I had not only a receding hairline but also an increasing girth. I could do nothing about my age (or hairline!) but maybe I could do something about my lack of fitness.

So I started running. It was sometimes painful, but I also found it rewarding and at times exhilarating. From early days mainly on tarmac to more recently competing in long-distance mountain running events it’s been an adventure, meeting new challenges and making new friends all along the way.

What keeps you motivated?

Motivation has rarely been a problem. I’m naturally competitive with a fairly stubborn streak. Giving up is usually not an option. And I think this is particularly important with running. From experience I’ve also learnt that the rewards far exceed the effort. I sleep better and generally enjoy life more, and my wife tells me I’m less grumpy after running! And probably most of all I just love the feel-good effect when running and the post-run endorphin release. Maybe I’m an addict!

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

One of the things I’ve learnt from running is the importance of setting and achieving targets. Set them too low and you won’t reach your potential. Set them too high and you’ll either suffer running-related injuries or get into the bad habit of giving up too easily. I’ve certainly had to take breaks from running due to sickness or injury but I can remember very few training runs that I didn’t complete, and so far I’ve avoided a DNF in competitive events (though I have come close!).

Beneficial longer term targets have included a training programme to complete a first marathon or marathon. Last year my target was to complete the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association Championship races, which I did while winning my age category. A few years ago I ran a minimum of 5 km every day for the 31 days of December. For each of the past two years I achieved a target of 1000 running miles.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Fitness from running has allowed me to enjoy other outdoor sports including rock climbing, mountain biking and skiing. If I couldn’t run I’d probably do more cycling. Or gardening. Or learning Spanish.

What’s your biggest running goal?

Some 37 years after I started, I’m still running. And my biggest running goal? Just to keep running for as long as I can. And maybe to win the Vet 75 Northern Ireland Mountain Running Championship next year!


Follow Ian on Instagram.

Why I’m Missing Out On The 2019 Tar Heel 10 Miler

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Tar Heel 10 Miler & Fleet Feet Sports 4 Miler as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

I was really looking forward to this race.

I don’t care that rain and thunderstorms are forecast. I’ve never had to bow out of a race before. It sucks to be sitting here writing this blog post in my AirCast boot.

In 2018 I volunteered to help at one of the aid stations. It was a great experience, watching all the runners going past. Seeing the spread of runners was amazing to me — from the leaders of the pack to those running very happily along at the back. The atmosphere was so good and I was so excited when the opportunity came along to run it for BibRave in 2019.

But I’m injured.

I had to go and get injured about 7 weeks before my marathon in March, and then continue to train and run the marathon with the injury. I’d put quite a bit of effort in to that point and didn’t want to quit.

I’m not sure I recommend this approach. When I did eventually visit the doctor, about a week after the marathon, I was diagnosed with Peroneal Tendonitis in my right foot. Fortunately it was not a fracture, or something like the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis. My peroneal tendon should recover 100%, as long as I can wear the boot for 30 days.

Back To The Race.

I have friends running it, and other friends that are volunteering, and post-injury I had planned to be there as well, just to take photos and provide support, but I can’t get my boot wet. 😦

So I will be at home, wishing I were caught up in the buzz, running 10 miles through the streets of Chapel Hill, conquering Laurel Hill at mile 8, and rolling into the finish with a smile on my face.

Next year. I will be there, next year.

Let’s hear from You.

If you ran the race this year, do let us know your thoughts by writing a review on bibrave.com. Did you run the 4 miler, the 10 miler, or the DOUBLE?!

Why do you run, Jeremy Copeland?

About Jeremy

Welcome to a blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

Jeremy is the lead pastor of STORYCHURCH, an awesome church community in Durham, NC. I had the privilege of being part of the launch team and having a little input into how it’s grown today.

What isn’t particularly obvious when you first meet Jeremy is his insanely competitive side. I can’t tell you how many times I went out to run only because he might pass me on the Nike leader board. Wait… who’s competitive?

Why did you start running?

For health reasons.

What keeps you motivated?

The competitive part of Nike Run!

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

It’s worth it, even when I don’t feel like it. I’ve never regretted a run.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Fly. I’d want to have wings.

What’s your biggest running goal?

Healthy heart, healthy weight.


Follow Jeremy on Twitter and/or Instagram.

Why do you run, Nilesh Tharval?

About Nilesh

Welcome to a blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

I know Nilesh through MRC, and we’ve ran together for quite a while now. I also know he is a big Orange Theory guy, so he takes his fitness seriously — all while juggling family and work commitments!

Why did you start running?

I am an Indian, and in India physical activities are 6% compared to 21% for westerners. There is one important risk factor which I could not control: my South Asian ancestry.

Heart disease is the leading killer of adults nationwide, our bodies develop the disease up to a decade earlier. Indians tend to develop high blood pressure, high triglycerides, abnormal cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes at lower body weights than other groups. Indian men are also prone to high levels of coronary artery calcium, a marker of atherosclerosis that can be an early harbinger of future heart attacks and stroke.

My first circle of family have already gone through all these diseases, so that is one of the motivational factors for me, I don’t want to pass on all this to my next generation.

I realized this very late, started running in mid 2012.

What keeps you motivated?

Yes definitely the above mentioned reason is one prime motivation. Being healthy, physically and mentally.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

Running gave me a big mantra of life The Four D’s of Success- Desire, Dedication, Determination, and Discipline.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Definitely spending time with my young kids, walk or spending time in indoor gym (there also I prefer treadmill run — no weights).

What’s your biggest running goal?

Crossing finish line of a marathon is dream for any long distance runner — yes I also have the same dream before I turn 42.


Follow Nilesh on Twitter and/or Instagram.

Race Recap: 2018 Race Across Durham 10 Miler

I ran this race way back in December last year and just noticed I had’t posted a review on it. Well, better late than never, right? This was the 2nd year I’d ran Race Across Durham. The first year, I signed up and ran it on my own, this year I brought a few pals along.

The trail conditions this time were really wet. They had to change the full marathon course drastically because of flooding. It looked like the 10 mile course would stay as planned, but on race day it was shortened to around 8.5-9 miles.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t mind that at all. My race pretty much sucked that day and I was glad to be done. I had really low energy and was not competing at the same level as the previous year. I found out later when I got home that I was running a fever which helped explain things. 🤢

I love racing (and training) along the Eno. The course had a few surprises this year too. There were a few bridges that had washed away in recent storms, so a couple of extra creek crossings were required!

In preparation for this race, I didn’t train quite as much in the Eno River State Park as last year, opting instead for the closer Umstead Park. The latter was a better option for the group, but I’m not sure provided the same level of training we needed.

The medals were hand-made again this year, using a slightly different design. I love these unique race medals. Check out last years review to see the medal from 2017.

As per last year, the food and drink afterward was great! We grabbed a table, and ate and drank as the band played. I have some video of Niles dancing, but she might kill me if I post it.

Friends and family can easily join for the post-race party if desired.

Race Across Durham is a race I look forward to every year now, and I’ll be signing up to run it this year again, no doubt about it. Registration usually opens at the start of July.

The 10 mile course is point-to-point. At the end you need to wait for a bus to transfer you out of the park and back to the start line where the post-race party takes place. This year the transport seemed to take longer — maybe I just got lucky the year before? We were waiting in line for what seemed like an hour to get on a bus. But. we made the most of it….

Race Recap: 2019 Allscripts Tobacco Road Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Allscripts Tobacco Road Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

It’s kind of like a midlife crisis kind of thing. When you turn 40, you have to run the marathon, while all the parts still work properly.

Joe Bastianich

Oh MRC! We trained together, and we raced together. Even though we knew we’d trained for this, and were familiar with the course, there was still a collective nervousness. We all knew that anything could happen on race day, anything.

But just look at those smiles from everyone at mile 25! We knew we had it in the bag! We were going to finish and we were going to be marathoners!

It was such an amazing experience! I’ve shared before that Tobacco Road was my first ever half marathon, and now it’s my first ever full marathon! This race will always have a special place in my heart.

The Early Start

There were a few grumbles about aiming to arrive in the parking lot by 5:15am. We had a parking pass, but it was still recommended that you arrived by 5:30am (for a 7am race start). It’s nice to get parked so close and convenient to the start/finish line, so I personally did not mind the early start.

We sat in the car for a while before venturing out to use porta-potties and take a few photos. I took the opportunity to meet up with my fellow BibRave Pros for a pre-race catch-up and obligatory photo!

BibRave Pros (left to right): Stacia, Kim, Lissa, TK, Ben, Alastair

The Starting Line

We found our space in the starting line around 6:45am. The half marathon and full marathon start at the same time and share the same route for the first 2.5 miles. So we squeezed into a crowd of 3,060 runners, 818 of those were running the full marathon.

There were ample pacers interspersed from the front to the back. They were all wearing bright yellow shirts for easy visibility. They carried signs which indicated the planned pace they would be running.

The morning started off a little chilly, but I knew it wouldn’t take long to warm up, so I only wore t-shirt and shorts, hat and gloves. This worked out perfect as after 20-30 minutes I was just right. It was totally worth the time standing around freezing before we started running.

With Zach and Jen at the starting line.

The Course

The course started in Thomas E Brooks park in Cary. From there it run along on the road for 2.5 miles until it hit the trail. At that point the half marathon runners turned left, and the full marathon runners turned right.

We ran for around 6 miles down the American Tobacco Trail, an old railway line that has been converted to a trail. At around mile 8 we turned and came back. At mile 14 we crossed back over and ran the half marathon section of the trail. At mile 19 we turned and ran back again to the road which led back again to Thomas E Brooks park.

The entire American Tobacco Trail is tree-lined, and the trail itself is not wide. With runners coming both ways, you probably have room only for 2-3 abreast in each direction.

Most of the race was on hard-packed gravel (pictured above), but some of the trail (maybe 3-4 miles) was paved.

Since there is not a lot of access for spectators, I quite like passing the other runners and encouraging each other. Most of my group were ahead so I had a couple of sections on the course where I got to high-five everyone on their way past.

The Race

The race started off well. With my foot/ankle injury a few weeks back, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the rest of the team. So I just relaxed and enjoyed the run. My ankle started to give the first signs of trouble around mile 6.

I was able to ignore it until around mile 14-15 when it became a little harder to keep going at the pace I was running at. I slowed down and took a few walk breaks to give my foot some rest. By this stage I was getting a sharp pain every so often when my foot struck the ground.

Marathon running, for me, was the most controlled test of mettle that I could ever think of. It’s you against Darwin.

Ryan Reynolds

Mile 20 felt just like it did in Ireland. It was exhausting. At mile 23 I started to get some calf cramps, but nothing too major and they didn’t stay too long.

At this stage of the race, the field had thinned out and you were running with people now around the same level. We’d take turns passing each other.

At one time I realized that I was going to complete this thing. It nearly brought me to tears — it wouldn’t be the only time.

Around mile 24 I was back on the road back to the park — to the finish line. This helped me pick up the pace a little, knowing I was definitely going to make it.

When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time.

Haile Gebrselassie

At mile 25, my friends Purvi and Thelma (who had ran and completed the half already that morning) where on the last hill on the way back cheering our team. Purvi’s husband took the photos at the top of this post. I love all the expressions of joy in the midst of pain. 😉

The Fuel Plan

The plan was to alternate between Water and Gatorade at each aid station. The Tobacco Road Marathon had plenty of aid stations – every 2-3 miles. The volunteers were super helpful and encouraging.

Quite a few stations had GU gels, but I was carrying my own gels since I hadn’t trained with GU. There was also various snacks on offer, as well as pickle juice, and even Mimosas and bacon.

So, going into the race my fuel plan was:

  • Water/Gatorade every 2-3 miles
  • Salt Tablet every 3 miles
  • Gatorade Endurance Gel every 5 miles

I stuck to the plan as best I could. At times my stomach felt really sick and I was close to throwing up (too much gel?). After mile 20 I started to drink more at the aid stations, as before I was taking only a sip or two.

The Finish Line

I had a look at my race photos today, and I don’t think I’ve ever looked as happy to have finished a race before. The feeling was amazing. Then when I saw my wife and little boy come running up to me at the end I nearly started balling again.

I had pre-booked a massage at the expo, so after I had a couple of slices of pizza and a chocolate milk, I got myself over to the massage tent. It was $20 for 20 minutes and worth every penny (cent).

The Support Crew

These are the people who supported us through this. I’m really thankful to my wife and family for allowing me to chase this crazy goal, and half expects me to try it again some time. 🤣🤣🤣

But seriously, a marathon is something I’d never seen myself doing. Even when I signed up, it still scared me. We’ve come a long way. We trained together, we raced together and now we are marathoners.

Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.

C.S. Lewis

Pre-Race Thoughts: 2019 Tobacco Road Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Allscripts Tobacco Road Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I still can’t believe this is happening tomorrow. And it scares me that I don’t even know what 26.2 miles actually feels like. My longest run ever is 20 miles, and I struggle to think what an additional hour on my feet will feel like. Guess I’m going to find out soon enough. 😊

Tobacco Road was my first ever half marathon last year, and I can still remember it well. Running on the trail through the trees. Greeting other runners on their return legs. Struggling at the 9th mile. The down-hill finish. The post-race beer.

So, I’m pretty excited that I get to run the race again, one year later, except this time it’s my first full marathon!

I visited the Expo yesterday and picked up my bib. For a local race, it’s one of the largest race Expos in the area. It was well laid out with plenty of vendors, and Jeff Galloway was in attendance (he is running the race on Sunday as well).

For the first time ever I booked myself a post-race massage. I was able to pre-pay which allows me to jump the line. I figured it would increase my chances of waking the next day. 🤣

Thelma, one of our running crew, was at Thomas E Brooks park today and set-up is well underway — the picture at top is the start/finish line, and all important porta-john row is pictured below.

The weather forecast tomorrow is great marathon weather. It’s around 40F when the race starts at 7am. I’m planning to wear shorts and short sleeves, so I’m expecting to be a little cold before it starts. I’ll be the one in an orange shirt, Irish dancing to keep warm.

All my stuff is ready to go for tomorrow. For the first time I have created a music playlist as well. It has a mixture of old favorites and some newer songs to keep me going for 6 hours — hopefully I’ll not need that long though! If you have Apple Music and want to check it out, click here.

Right, it’s about time I started making my way to bed to get plenty of rest. I’m looking forward to meeting some of my fellow BibRave Pros tomorrow!