Bridget Funnell

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"You've got to meet Bridget Funnell - she does absolutely CRAZY things!" You can't really ignore an introduction like that, and when we did catch up with her we weren't disappointed.

Who are you?

bridget roger.... I sometimes wonder! My name is Bridget Funnell, I live on the Devon/Cornwall border with my partner Roger.

What is your sport?

............ If I'm totally honest I have to say my sport is Playing but I suppose it could also be described as adventure running, off road over any terrain, when I compete it is usually in Ultra races,which can be any distance over a marathon.

It's all about running and looking for adventure ('Vencha'), it's such a wonderful way to explore countryside we would never normally see, often footpaths go through ancient farmsteads or tiny hamlets that would be impossible to find in a vehicle. It's a great way to see wildlife too, especially the more timid species.

How old are you?

.......I'm 63,I think! I forget sometimes just how old I really am, I have to remind myself that I'm not still in my 50's, I often feel like I'm in my 20's, until I look in the mirror!

How long have you been adventure running?

......... I'm not sure how long I've been doing this sort of running, I started running when I hit 50, initially it was all road work which quickly became incredibly monotonous and dull. I soon discovered, the coast path, moors, mountains, mud and water and have never looked back.

How did it come about?

..... I feel a need to be in open spaces.

Had you always been sporty/athletic/done any sport before?

.....I had a long spell of not really doing anything then at the age of about 40 I rediscovered hockey, and tennis, I always loved these sports and enjoyed quite a few years of competitive playing.

bridget 4What do you like/love about "Vencha" running?

.......I love the fact that I can behave like a 10 year old, climb trees, rock hop and always take the wettest route across bogs and streams.
.........I love the fact that it takes me to magical hidden places that make me feel that I am the only one who has ever been there.
.........I love the fact that it makes me feel alive without a care in the world.

We have a game we play on the moors,when we are climbing/running up a Tor, we can only reach the summit by rock hopping, no feet on grass. Then on the way down we have to jump 50 things like clumps of bracken or boulders. It feels like you can fly!

You organise a lot of runs that involve other people, do you love that others benefit from your running?

.....Yes I do but only if they appreciate and respect the places I take them, people need to have soul to understand and enjoy the places we go to.
I started a running club a few years ago, it was my life, my passion but took up all my time, as well as nuturing the club I supported and encouraged every single adult and junior member, always running with the new or slower members, the club eventually became self sustaining and I was able to move on.

bridget bikeDo you do any other sports?

....I have a serious relationship with my Mountain Bike, 'Mr Whyte', we often go out together for a few hours play in the mud, God help anyone whosteps between us. I also have a kayak.

bridget-9Do you have any ailments?

....Yes, I do but try very hard not to let them hinder me, actually things seem to hurt a lot less when I'm running.

How do you deal with them?

.... I have a fantasic sports physio, Nathan puts me back together again, half an hour every week seems to work. I also attend a weekly muscle release class and do pilates.

Do you prepare physically for the running, if so how? i.e.any other strength and stamina training, or is the running enough?

....Until recently I did a lot of gym work but I had a shoulder injury and wasn't able to attend, I haven't got fully back into the swing of it. I also do a bit of strength, stretch and roller work at home.

Diet and food?

bridget-6Ah Food! I would live on rubbish food if I could BUT I try very very hard not to and to eat healthy and clean food even if it isn't as much fun! I'm not a great foody and rather than waste hours preparing a meal I would rather be outside exploring. eg: Our Christmas day ritual is a run on the moors and maybe a mountain bike, followed by a fry-up (a real treat).

What have been the best events of your running "career"?

..... So so many, All have their own stories some are best because of the scenery, people we meet, conquering the challenge or money I've rasised for various charities.

One of the most outrageous was the Drambuie Pursuit, I entered a team of old ladies, (I was the oldest), we were the only female team ever! The event comprised 15 international teams who had to race across Scotand, Coast to Coast, running, mountain biking, white water rafting, go karting and several other disciplines. (We had to present a short video, You Tube vid called Drambluie Rinse, I'm quite proud of it.)

bridget-8What events are you planning in the near future?

....Our years just seem to get busier and busier, 2016 already pretty full with races in Nepal, the Alps amongst other overseas events. Roger and I are also planning runs around the 5 major Channel Islands, and maybe the Canaries, Mr Whyte has also stated he would like a trip around Iceland, we really enjoy researching and working out logistics too, it's all part of the whole 'Vencha'.
I would like to try SUP boarding (stand-up paddle-boarding), there are some alternative triathlons which include SUP, Mountain biking and Off road running. perfect :-).

How long do you imagine running for?

....'til I get bored with it and buy a squirrel suit and take up flying.

Anything else you'd like to say about doing this at the age you are, and why others should do it?

....For me, I can't imagine not doing the things I do, I've never even thought about my age, people should do exactly what they want and certainly not feel they have to act their age. I hate to think that there are people out there who would like to be a bit more adventurousbut are afraid to, thinking perhaps they are too old, or even just don't know how to go about it.

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