On Sunday 2 October, Bolton Harrier Heather Tomlinson, finished a stunning 69th out of 16,860 female runners at the TCS London Marathon. Her 2 hour 55 minute finishing time was more than enough to qualify her for the 2023 Berlin Marathon too – one of the world’s most prestigious Marathons and indeed where Eliud Kipchoge ran his world record just days before.
Whilst Heather is soaking up (and recovering from) the result of last weekend’s performance, she understands this is still early days in her Marathon running journey. She only began running with Bolton Harriers 15 months ago and, under the watchful eye of Coach Dave Shaw the unassuming Solicitor is blossoming into a fierce competitor – there is no telling where her upward trajectory could take her.
Heather never competed in sport at school but since completing Manchester Marathon 12 months ago, has never looked back. Her training plan for London was a gruelling 19 week process, running up to 60 miles per week and never missing a session – Heather had special thanks for her Coach commenting, “Dave has continued to support and believe in me”. Even the trip down to London was meticulously planned as she headed down on the Friday to avoid train strikes. Supported by her Husband Will, parents Jane and Tony and Coach Dave – Heather had the perfect support crew. They ensured Heather was relaxed, hydrated and ready to go by the time she toed the line come Sunday morning. Heather commented “Big love to my support team who made sure I didn’t have to worry about a thing and I could focus solely on the race. Seeing their faces on the side-lines of the course was a massive boost!”.
The race itself was electric, with Heather coming through the first 5k only a few seconds over 20 minutes! That did have Coach Dave Shaw a little worried at the time, but Heather’s reputation for pacing proved to be well founded as she came through the halfway point in 1 hour 27 minutes 29 seconds. Her support crew had seen her come through mile 18 looking tired, but by the time they saw her again at mile 25, Heather was in the zone and was not slowing down – it was almost time to celebrate! The crew excitedly made their way to the finish line knowing that Heather had cracked the renowned ‘sub 3’ barrier that she was so determined to break. As she emerged with her medal and a huge grin, the whole crew swamped her with hugs and kisses, and in true Heather style – a full photoshoot complete with an outfit change and lipstick was to follow.
Heather will now spend a week resting, recovering and basking in her glory! During that time you will find her in the pool doing some swimming but it won’t be long until you see her pounding the pavements of Bolton again or down at Leverhulme Sports Centre tearing up the track! Heather says “I am really hopeful that my running story will inspire some girls to join the club. I love Bolton Harriers like a family but we really need some more girls!”
For now, Heather will be dreaming about Berlin Marathon and beyond. She is even planning on a high-altitude running camp next year as she looks to take it up to the next level. In the meantime, and on behalf of all her supporters who sent her ‘good luck’ messages and videos – well done Heather, we are so proud of you and can’t wait to see what the future holds and where your running journey may take you next!!
By Will Tomlinson