APTLY-NAMED local runner Hannah Taunton will compete as an elite female runner in the Great North Run on Sunday (September 10).

Taunton, 26, is a member of both Taunton Athletics Club and Running Forever Running Club, and this weekend she will take on the biggest half marathon event in the world.

To enter as an elite runner, Taunton had to achieve a time of under 38 minutes in a 10k, which she managed twice this year – at the Stoke Stampede in January (first lady, 36:36), and at the Easter Bunny 10k in Yeovilton (first lady, 36:28).

She also ran two half marathons in under 83 minutes in 2017 – the Bath Half (81:29) and Taunton Half (81:47).

She has run the Taunton Half since the age of 18, raising money for Escape, a charity which supports families of children with special needs.
Taunton took up running at the age of 12, and the sport has boosted her self-esteem, as she has a speech disorder.

She has had the support of Castle School, her TAC coaches – Charlotte Fisher, Keith Paul and Sharron Kington – and also her fellow Parkrunners at Longrun Meadow.

She said: “My coaches do so much and really work me hard, and the speed sessions really help improve my running.”

With the mantra of ‘run your own race’, Taunton trains on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, plus Parkrun on Saturday and a longer Sunday morning run.

With the Great North Run’s elite ladies race starting at 10.15am, the elite men’s at 10.40am, Taunton aiming for 80 minutes and Mo Farah expected to do the course in around an hour, there’s a chance she could finish close to the British Olympic legend.

Taunton said: “I’m very, very, very excited, and I’m looking forward to a crowd of thousands cheering me on.”

Her mum, Gill, added: “I’m exceptionally proud. She shows so much dedication to her sport. She’s overcome a lot of things, but it’s given her a lot of confidence, and she’s always smiling.”