A BORN-AGAIN fitness fanatic is among thousands gearing up for tomorrow’s Edinburgh Great Winter Run.
This will be the second year that Sarah Mather, 29, has taken part in the five kilometre Bupa-sponsored event, which starts and ends in Holyrood Park, and includes one of the city’s most challenging landmarks in Arthur’s Seat.
The former data analyst is now training to become a fitness instructor after being inspired to lead a more healthy lifestyle while watching the London Olympics with partner Karine Whitton, also 29.
Ms Mather, who lives in Leith, said: “We realised we were just coming in from work and parking ourselves on the couch every night, so decided to do something about it.
“I tried cycling for a while, but running suited me better – you can pretty much switch your mind off when you go for a run, but you need to be constantly aware of your surroundings on a bike.”
However, struggles with her confidence meant it took a while before she could try out her new hobby in the cold light of day. After a friend who was supposed to be accompanying her on last year’s Winter Run dropped out, Ms Mather had no choice but to go it alone.
She said: “I would postpone my runs until it got dark, when I knew people wouldn’t see me or wouldn’t be paying attention to me.
“I hadn’t lost much weight by that point so I just thought everyone was going to think ‘What on earth is she doing here?’. But actually there was so much encouragement in the field, everyone who was going past was shouting ‘Go on, go on, you can do it’ and patting me on the back.”
Since completing the 2013 Bupa Great Winter Run, Ms Mather has taken part in 5ks, 10ks and even a triathlon, losing more than two stone in 12 months as she continues to push for her ultimate goal of becoming a size ten.
She said: “I’ve gone from 178lbs down to 144lbs. My aim is to get down to a size ten and just to feel more comfortable in my skin. I reckon that is at least another 21lbs I need to lose.”
Ms Mather will run a number of other marathons this year in aid of the MS Society after Ms Whitton was diagnosed with the condition.
“Karine was feeling unwell and having problems with her balance, and was eventually diagnosed with MS in November,” Ms Mather said.
“That hasn’t stopped her from keeping her vow to get fit, but she prefers to get on the exercise bike in the house.”
Ms Mather also decided to use her own experiences to encourage others to get active. Next month she will begin work to become a personal trainer in the hope of helping more people change their lives.
“I would never in a million years have thought I’d be doing a job like that. I was always the big girl in the group, but I want to show people that if I can do it, so can they.”