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A very special friendship!

by Katy Whitwell & Hayley Hogg

Katy’s story:

My running journey began about 7 years ago when I went from couch to marathon in 6 months to raise money for a charity that I worked for. That marathon almost put me off running for life but I still applied for a ballot place every year with the hope that one day I would get back to that level of fitness. 

Fast forward to spring 2019 and I knew it was time to get back into running. I felt fat, unfit and my mental health was at an all time low. I was anxious about asking for help from a guide runner as I didn’t want to hold a more experienced runner back but I bit the bullet and messaged Ramsbottom Running Club and asked if it would be possible to have a guide runner. That evening, I went to my first club run and I’ve never looked back.


I met the fantastic Hayley who is genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. We hit it off instantly and we talk about everything from work to sports bras whilst tackling the Tuesday night routes.

We’ve done a couple of 10k races and have less than 6 months before we tackle the London Marathon. I can’t imagine running with another guide, it just wouldn’t feel right.

I’ve come such a long way. I’m fitter, thinner, my mental health is greatly improved but best of all, I’ve met a really good friend and even if my knees give up or my foot falls off, I know I would miss my hour with my friend equally as much as the run on a Tuesday evening.

I could use having very limited vision as an excuse to sit on the couch and eat crisps but I get so much out of being a member of the club. Everyone is so nice and they’re always willing to lend a hand and show their support. I feel like myself again and I have Ramsbottom Running Club and Hayley to thank for that.

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Hayley’s story:

My running story with the lovely Katy Whitwell began Spring time this year and I feel so privileged to have met such an inspirational, brave and beautiful lady! My history of running has been a bit on and off with just low key running for myself over the years and not further than 10K. (Anything more than 10K scared me!) However the opportunity to join Ramsbottom Running Club last year has been one of the best choices I've made! The guilt of leaving the husband to put the kids to bed on a Tuesday night soon faded as I got to have some ‘me’ time! I loved it!

Through the club I was offered the opportunity to take part in a ‘Guide Running’ Course. I jumped at the chance! I am a Special Needs teacher and had experience in teaching children with visual impairment so the course really interested me. I joined the WhatsApp guide running group and enjoyed reading the messages.

Then a message came up about a lady who would like to get back into running and required a guide runner to support this. I was so nervous and thoughts went back and forth thinking am I good enough? Can I do this? I replied ‘yes I can’. Those 3 words changed my life.

The first time we met was at the weekly club night. I’m usually super shy, always have been but we just clicked. We chatted about our jobs, husbands and hobbies. We sometimes chatted too much that I forgot what my actual role was! We have accomplished many challenges in the weekly runs - stiles, boggy fields, tree routes, parked cars and wheelie bins! Oh and kerbs- can’t believe just how many kerbs there are! Nothing fazes Katy! We run with an elastic tether but often she will hold my arm in narrow spaces. We have somehow mastered our running styles together without any trips or falls! Well, we had one just not our fault! In September we completed our first 10K event together at the Bury 10K in a time of 1 hour 5 mins. We had lots of support from the club as well as other runners who we didn’t know but shouted positive messages! We have just ran a 5K PB together in 29 minutes and 10K in 1 hr 1 minute- smashing our previous time!

Katy and I now have the London Marathon in 2020! I feel so humbled and privileged that she asked me to be her guide and run with her. I can’t wait! We are running for the ‘Look’ charity who help support families with visual impairments. This sounds like a bit of a cliche but it has changed my life! I have running goals, feel more confident to talk to others and to do something for myself after being a busy mum and wife whilst working as a full time teacher! But most of all, I have found a true friend x

Thank you for reading. It means a lot. Give us a shout out when you see us running together!