Runner Profile:  Gemma Turley

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Our new ‘Runner Profile’ is a lady who I have spent a large part of the last twelve months writing about, Gemma Turley. Since returning to running after having her son, Gemma has been a consistent prize-winner, finding herself on the podium at least seventeen times throughout 2013, winning ten races.  She (Gemma) also collected a silver medal at the Athletics NI 5k (Road) Championships.

Over and above these achievements, the Springwell Running Club athlete has impressed throughout the early part of the Athletics NI Cross Country League, which has given her a new enthusiasm for Cross Country running.  You can find out why by reading on…. Enjoy!

Full Name:  Gemma Turley

Current Category:  Female Open

Associated Club:  Springwell Running Club

Personal Bests:  5k – 18:06, 5 miles – 30:42, 10k – 38:32

What is your favourite Northern Ireland (running) event?  I enjoy the Furey 5k Series and love the 26extreme Causeway Coast 10k; you can’t beat its location!

When did you start running?  I took up athletics at the age of 11 – I enjoyed competing at school and then joined the local athletics club (Ballymena & Antrim AC).  I competed in the high jump and the sprint hurdles, then moved up to the 400m hurdles.  I went to Loughborough University in 2001 to further pursue my running but ironically gave running up for about 6 years due to a mix of injuries and enjoying university life too much!

Why do you run?  I run to keep fit and healthy, to be able to eat and drink what I like; I get a real buzz from competing and always feel so much better after a good training session.

In 2013, you won no less than 10 races, how does that make you feel?  Are there any that you took particular pride from winning?  I was really happy winning the Decathlon 10k in April 2013 as it was my first 10k after having my baby and I managed to take a good chunk off my personal best (I had been trying to break my pb of 40:01 which I got in 2008/09), running 38.36.  I was also pleased with winning the overall Furey 5k Series.

What is your next race and what do you want from it?  I would like to try the NiRunning 5 mile trail race in Ballyboley Forest in February 2014.  The only trail race I have done is Roe Valley trail race and enjoyed this, so would like to take part in more trail races.  I’m also looking forward to running for Springwell RC in the final part of the Athletics NI XC league at Stormont Estate.

We have spoken about you’re next race, but going into the New Year, do you have any particular target races/events?  I don’t have any specific races that I am targeting; my main aim is to get personal best’s for 5k, 5miles and 10k.

You have been performing well in recent Cross Country races, adding to the brilliant road and trail performances throughout 2013; you have also raced on the track (including Steeplechase) in the past.  Do you have a preference over which terrain you compete on?  My preference, without a doubt is road racing.  I used to dislike XC and only did it for training purposes but I’ve really enjoyed this XC season, mainly as Springwell RC has put together a good women’s team, with great team spirit.

What is your favourite training ‘session’?  I usually do interval training on a Monday night with the club and a track session with the club on a Thursday.  My favourite specific session is 10x400m.  I enjoy these sessions as I’m not running on my own and have other people around to push me.

What are your favourite pre-race and post-race meals?  I tend to stick to the same pre-race meal (normally porridge or muesli and toast with peanut butter or banana) and drink lots of coffee so I’m buzzing at the start line!  Post race I normally have a banana and milkshake and occasionally sandwiches and buns, brought to the race by our team captain, Karen McLaughlin.  I usually enjoy heading out after a race for a meal and drinks with my partner as a wee treat.  I have a good appetite!!

What would you consider to be your greatest achievement in running?  Coming back after having my son Odhran, who is now 18 months old.  I had my best season post-pregnancy, getting Pb’s at each of my racing distances.

What is your running ambition?  I hope I can stay injury free as I would hate not to be able to run or compete.  My main ambition is to get my personal times down and of course it would be a bonus to one day run in a Northern Ireland vest for XC.

Outside running are there any other sports do you like?  I used to enjoy playing badminton but since having my son I’m lucky if I get my run fitted into the day!  I also enjoy playing golf on the wii, if that’s counted as a sport!