With being in a bit of a lull just now between races and winding down towards our holiday, I thought I would write about the man who inspired me to take up running, my Dad. After all, it is Fathers Day.
My dad, Harry Bonthrone, played football when he was young and after he stopped playing when he was 40, he began coaching football teams around Perth and was in high demand. He was approached by the legendary Jim McLean to take up a coaching role at Dundee United but turned him down as he wouldn’t be able to fit it in alongside his day job with Marks and Spencer. He also received a nice letter from the then England manager, Ron Greenwood, who my dad had written to asking about tactics and style of play.
My dad loved to stay active and ran to keep himself fit more than anything else and turned down an invite to run with Perth Road Runners when they started out as he wasn’t interested in taking it seriously, he just liked doing his own thing. His favourite run was to get across the fields in Gannochy and up Kinnoull Hill.
My most memorable time was when he took me along for the inaugural Fair City Fun Run in 1983, which is now the Perth 10k. This was something I enjoyed as it was doing something with my dad. We did it for a couple of years on the bounce but it would be many years later before I would develop my true passion for running.
My dad’s ethos was that running, and exercise in general, should be fun and he tried to inspire many people to do it. It was always about participation rather than trying to be the best. I’m happy that I now do that for a living and while I’ve had running groups on and off for a few years, it’s only since last summer that by setting up my Zero to 5k group that I’ve truly taken on that very same ethos and passing it on to those who’ve been part of every group.
My dad has always been very supportive of everything I’ve ever done and I know he was proud of my current role as a Personal Trainer as he told me a few times that he would’ve loved to have been one had it been an option then as it is now. He was forever handing out my business cards to everyone he spoke to, even to the staff who cared for him at Catmoor House in his last few weeks.
One of my proudest moments was to give him my medal from the Rock n Roll Half Marathon last year a few days after he was diagnosed with cancer. This was a hard time for us all but it gave me the greatest pleasure to run this race for him and to see his face when I gave him the medal. This is a moment I will cherish forever. He was always interested to hear about every race I ran and also to hear about Allison’s progress in running and to offer her the same amount of encouragement right up until the end.
It’s almost a year since he left us and I feel my running has taken on a whole new meaning to me now. I take some time out in every training run to talk to him and thank him for this amazing gift he gave me and I’ve found running a great way for me to deal with the sadness of his passing and I feel I’ve become a stronger runner as a result. I always make a point of saluting him at the end of every race and when I ran all 4 races in Edinburgh recently, not only did I speak to him and give my usual thanks, I felt his presence with me along the last mile of the marathon and I’m delighted that the photographer at the finish line caught the moment I gave dad my salute.
Dad, I thank you for introducing me to running, for teaching me to encourage others to run, to always do my best in whatever I do and generally making me the man I am today. While I miss you each and every day, I know you’re watching over me and guiding me every step of the way. Love you lots xxx
To anyone reading this, learn to love what you do, relax and enjoy every run and if you take part in a race, do the best you can and worry less about what anyone else says or does. Always be happy and smile, even when you don’t feel like it.