Janice Clement is a femme extraordinaire (gwraig ryfeddol ) on the one hand but on the other just a dedicated runner who has plugged away over the years and accumulated a loads of miles, and in running her favourite distance, a lot of half marathons to the point that on 19th March she will run her 100th.
Back in 1992 when the ‘collection’ began it did not look like there was going to be second, in fact it was only sheer guts and determination that got her around the first one at Bath where she finished in agony with a very severe case of shin splints which had been threatening to break out in the weeks leading into the event.
But Janice, being the character that she is, was determined to get back into her running shoes and prove that she could do this, do it comfortably and even . . . . enjoy them!
So off to a podiatrist who, when he stopped laughing at how bad her feet were, said he could create a pair of orthosese that would put her right. Just over a year later a painful half had been transformed into a successful London Marathon finish, but along the way Janice had learnt that it was not the marathon distance she loved but she was getting to like 13.1miles very much.
50 halves were notched up at the Forest of Dean half in 2008 just weeks ahead of her 50th birthday and a passing comment was made about what was next? To which the flippant response was ‘100 before I’m 60’ and the seed was planted and calculations made as to what that meant per annum.
There was always the thought of getting there sooner rather than later, but in 2011 Janice was struck a massive blow with a terrible case of Labyrinthitis and months were wiped off her running and racing calendar, but she was inspired by the Cardiff Half that year to get her shoes on again and get out there.
Janice’s halves have been run all over the country and some abroad; combining her pleasure of travel and discovery with a run here and there. In the UK, they have been run over the length and breadth of the country, from Portsmouth Coastal Half to Loch Leven near Kinross, Plymouth in the west to Kent in the east.
There have been some great runs, including a PB in 2003 at her favourite half marathon event, the Cheddar Half. Janice, and some other club colleagues of hers from Penarth and Dinas Runners loved that race. It was slightly unusual on a Saturday afternoon but the atmosphere was great and the course out onto the Somerset Levels so enjoyable, and it was followed by coffee and cake and later on in the evening a curry and a few glasses of something!
There have been some flat ones; Cardiff must be amongst those as the organisers have sought the flattest routes around the city over the years, and Paddock Wood going around the level Kent countryside.
There have been some hilly ones; the self-proclaimed Humph’s Hilly Half from the Cotswold village of Bourton on the Water proved a challenge but attracted Janice back on 4 separate occasions and then there was Conwy with its climb up, over and around the Great Orme, making a good fit for being the most scenic.
The strangest? Perhaps that was the recent 99th which turned into a self-timed event as it was run within a multiple of other events / distances, though there were official results and prizes. It was also perhaps the most repetitive with 3½ laps of a Scottish loch in Strathclyde Park.
A fantastical one at Disneyworld Florida which took in a visit to Cinderella Palace, as the course runs right through the middle of it. The medal of Donald Duck has to be one of the best medals given for any of them. Disneyworld is not Janice’s only fairy tale run though, as the Hans Christian Anderson half in Odense, Denmark is also amongst the collection.
What should be added to Janice’s achievements is the fact that not only has she enjoyed these runs herself but she has encouraged and helped so many others. As a Level 3 qualified coach Janice has trained a number of runners to cope and survive the distance and others to achieve personal bests. She has always being willing to provide advice and words of wisdom that she has learnt over the years. She is also not slow to help strangers that she comes across on the course during the races cajoling many fellow competitors with advice on hydration or style along the way. A good example of this one of her new Scottish club colleagues who is also making the trip south to celebrate Janice’s milestone with her, so that as Janice runs her 100th, Geraldine will notch up her first.
So all the very best to Janice on 19th March in the Forest of Dean. Congratulations on 100 halves and here’s to the next target.