Me!Me!Me! Footprint of a Runner

Kate Ruffell

Retired and married to Mike (a keen walker)
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Tell us a bit about your childhood

A 70’s childhood in a practical, do-it-yourself, make do and mend, grow your own food family in Coventry. Dad converted an old Morris J4 van into a camper van which took us on holidays to mid Wales at 40mph with frequent stops to let the engine cool down. Weekends spent touring jumble sales in village halls, pick your own fruit farms or local walks, wild berry picking in the Autumn, shovelling horse manure into the back of the van for his vegetable plots. Once old enough to read a map I would drag anyone who would join me to go exploring in the countryside around Coventry; friend, brother, uncle or mum.

What were you like as a teenager?

For my 16th birthday my parents bought me a Black and Decker workmate, which I still have and use to this day for woodworking projects. I had also started work so had money and my grandads 3 gear bike to go exploring further afield. With one pannier full of 1:50,000 maps and one with sheet sleeping bag, bike repair kit and waterproof jacket, (known as a crisp packet in those days), I would cycle to the Peak District or Wales or Cotswolds staying in Youth Hostels. It was all new ground to explore.

Did your career work out as planned?

It would have been nice to work for the Ordnance Survey or something Geology related because they were my interests after I had started work. I ended up doing a Drawing Office Technician apprenticeship with GEC Telecommunications Ltd, when it was still a good company with a future, so lots of experience and opportunities, before its decline in the late 80’s. Then a spell as student Nurse. Finally from the 90’s onwards computer analyst/programmer computerising administration systems at a University and compiling statistical government returns. In the end it was just a job, that gave me the money to do what I was really interested in outside working hours, and allowed me to retire early.

What is your favourite meal?

Chicken casserole with Mike’s special dumplings, it is the only meal he has a hand in.

Stiff drink or herbal tea?

Definitely cup of normal tea, milk no sugar.

Some stats – Pbs

Coventry parkrun 5K – 19:54, Lincoln 10K – 41:35, Dumfries Half marathon 91:46 all in 2012. Off road marathon Beachy Head – 4hr 23, goes along the South Downs Way then heads to the coast back over the Seven Sisters cliffs back to Eastbourne, great views. Toughest Ultra; Manx Mountain marathon in snow at Easter in 8hrs 21, just glad to have completed the course.

What does the perfect weekend look like to you?

That has changed over the years, but now it would be a National Trust parkrun followed by a day walk and a rummage through a decent second hand bookshop.

Other interests?

Since Covid Cryptanalysis and Cryptic crosswords; something to stretch the mind. I replicated an enigma machine on an Excel spreadsheet to solve Simon Singh’s Cipher challenge. Always loved to lose myself in a book at the end of the day either popular science, history, travel or fiction.

What has been your most rewarding running challenge?

Difficult question. Probably the LAMMs as they got me to remote places in Scotland within an organised event, usually with someone who could not map read. That then gave me the confidence to go to similar places with Mike on our own and subsequently climb all the Corbetts in Scotland.

Forget the Bucket List; name one thing you never want to do before you die

Climb the Eiger; I hate heights. Walking on An Teallach ridge gave me a fright.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Still waiting.

Best advice

Retiring early, best thing I ever did career wise, although I do think I am wasted in retirement.

Who/what has been your biggest influence/inspiration?

Joss Naylor with his simple lifestyle and all achieved with his back problems too, puts my own running problems into perspective.

Name 3 songs on your music playlist?

I don’t tend to listen to music nowadays, but one song that has remained a favourite over the years is Telegraph Road by Dire Straits nice and loud. Possibly Pink Floyd and Simon and Garfunkel.

Any changes you have made in your life since the Coronovirus Lockdown?

It didn’t really affect us. Less said about that fiasco the better.

Tell us something about you that may surprise us

Living in Leicestershire in my 40’s I frequently came up to the Peak District to Totley AC running events and joined them on their Sunday morning club runs around the Peak District on a regular basis, so I thought I had better join the club. The ladies club captain asked me if I wanted to do cross country; I didn’t realise that anyone could do cross country I thought it was for elite runners and kids. I thought it was great, and became South Yorkshire 0/35 champion. I remember about that time commentators complaining that more people should do cross country as part of their training but I just thought, well if you have to join a club to do it and only then know about it what do they expect.

Favourite film? TV?Book?Podcast?

Film: Local hero (1983), TV: Shetland, Podcast: World Book club, Book: Too many to choose from. I remember listening to Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy when it was first on the radio in 1978 and being enthralled by it.

What is your worst habit?

My mind drifting off during a conversation, triggered by what has been said, then either repeating what someone else has just said because I wasn’t listening or going off on a tangent.

Is there a race you really want to do but have not got round to yet?

I stopped thinking about races once we moved to the Peak District, because I can just run from where we live. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to give myself challenges and always looking for new routes to go and explore.

Do you have any ideas which Matlock AC could incorporate to improve the club?

Maybe promote the cross country events on the MAC website more to the outside world as part of your membership fee. Since the multi-terrain events available nowadays seem incredibly expensive and often on tracks and pretty boring routes. I can’t really fault the club on anything.