About Hugh Lovett

Founder of the Starting Line

Hugh - Starting Line Founder

Hugh – Starting Line Founder

Back sometime in late 2012 I took a look in the mirror when I was getting changed one night after an evening out with Mrs L a 4 Course meal with wine, probably with a few beers, desert and cheese and crackers I was at that point in my life where I was fast becoming a middle-aged 24 hour party person, my lifestyle was somewhat that of a failed rock star.

I climbed to the top of the stairs, out of breath and probably sweating. The stairs, not very steep ones at that. I didn’t mean to look in the mirror, not like now! (for those of you who know me, you know I’m just kidding right?).

What I saw that evening wasn’t the 21-year-old that was fit and played football in the winter and cricket in the summer. Yet for some reason all the other times I would look in the mirror I didn’t seem to see what I saw this time, (I’m guessing that I had got so familiar with myself that all I saw was my glorious past), this time I saw an overweight, unfit, fat, bloated male who had let himself go so much that surely it was only a matter of time before this lifestyle caught up with me. The buck had to stop somewhere and it was this night that it did.

I also asked myself: Was I having a good time? Well the truth is I haven’t been able to answer that question until now.

So, like many times prior,in my youth when I tried to run, I didn’t make the same mistake by just setting off, getting to the top of the road and thinking “Bloody hell, I’m knackered”. I had heard of a plan called couch to 5k, and God knows I had spent a lot of time on my couch, generally eating and drinking!

This was February 22nd 2013 which is now my official running birthday(much like the queen I like to have two birthdays!).

I started to run, this would be the first of eight, sixty-second running intervals that I would have to complete with 90 seconds,  walking recovery in between. Finally the session finished off with a five-minute walk, which I hasten to add was most welcome at that time.

Give up? Give in? Nah, not me, see yes, I was and still am to some degree that person that everyone has seen along the seafront, overweight, sweating and starting to walk after not running very far.

Back to couch to 5k. It’s basically a 9 week plan, 3 times per week for around half an hour so I could easily find the time to do this (who wants to watch soap operas anyway?).

Not 8 1/2 weeks later, I had signed up for Southends parkrun and off I toddled at still 15st and a few pounds I must add. I didn’t have a clue where I was going and the first people I bumped into whilst I was looking like a lost fat kid were Dean Reeve and Lloyd Richardson. Both of whom asked if it was my first time, made me feel very welcome and told me where to go (no not in that way)!

I finished in 100th place out of 107 runners. My wife, who most if you now know was there with my daughter ‘Evie’ couldn’t contain my joy on the walk home. I had done it! Didn’t matter where I came, I set out to do 5k and I completed it. What now? I asked myself.

I carried on with doing little 5ks and park running when my son Ben’s football didn’t get in the way. Then one day I posted on Facebook ‘does anyone know of a local running group who meet up, nothing to serious?’

Alex replied ‘Try the Flyers’ Request sent and Paul Gribbon, whom I already knew added me. I was off! Cliff hills was my first flyers session, but I’m getting away from things here.

Before I know it, I’m running and 55 minutes later I’m finished, my first running medal! Another reason to be beaming, I fact I wore it on the car ride home and when I got home a neighbour asked me if I had run a marathon, to which I replied very bullishly no 5 miles!

So the running bug took over marathons, some 10k races, half marathons, signing up for more stuff as I write this yadda yadda.

The thing is you can see how this running bug, as it’s sometimes referred to, caught me.

So couch to 5k really does work.

That’s when I got the idea for The Starting Line.

The amazing thing is that they have not only become ‘runners’ but have also created new and hopefully lasting friendships, as they arrange their own runs, they run with The Flyers,  there are more talking about joining in on Wednesdays and taking part in parkrun.

So to close, without the amazing Flyers family, not only would I not be where I am now with my running career and fitness (65lbs lighter) but The Starting Line would not have even been born, and other people for all sorts of different reasons may not have started running or trying to get fitter, for whatever reason it may be.

Am I having a better time now? You bet, I can remember every race and give you a complete run down on it (I won’t but you get my point).

So not only have the Flyers been a benefit to me by making me a fitter and much more mentally strong person but to my whole family now Gill is a Flyer and Ben a Mini Flyer who knows even little Evie may complete a whole parkrun one day.

But the truth be known they might have even saved my life and I’m not exaggerating when I say that.