Meet Mark…

This is a guest blog from Mark. He attends the DSActive athletics session with Exeter Harries as a volunteer coach and has just achieved his Level 1 coaching qualification in athletics! We caught up with Mark to find out how he got on with the course… 

Mark, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I live with my Mum and Dad, Harry our dog and 2 guinea pigs.  My brother, sister-in-law, nephew and 2 nieces live near us.  I am a Christian.  I’m 31 and I’ve had 3 paid jobs.  At present I’m doing voluntary work.  I voted remain in the referendum and am unhappy about Brexit.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Athletics are a big thing in my life.  I also like dog walking, listening to music, watching EastEnders, and catching up with friends.  I am involved in my church and belong to a home group.  I’m an active member of the Labour Party – helping with canvassing and having my own delivery round.  I enjoy playing the guitar and have lessons each week.

What are your ambitions?

  • To have a Labour government in power
  • To get a bigger GB team for International Athletics for Athletes with Down’s Syndrome (IAADS)
  • To have a flat

Can you tell us about how you got started in athletics? What’s your favourite event? Where do you train and how often?

When I was 21 I decided I wanted to run, so I started training with Exeter Harriers.  I do 2 evenings a week at the track with my great coaches Brian and Kevin.  At the gym I do a session with my brilliant personal trainer, Jack, and a circuits class.  I swim once a week.  I also leap on the exercise bike at home and use the cross trainer in the local park.

Through Janet at Harriers I heard about IAADS and have now competed in the Azores, Portugal, South Africa, Italy and Madeira.  My favourite events are 400m and 800m.  In 2017 European Championships I won silver in 400m and gold in 800m.  I also race in local open, mainstream events.

You’ve recently completed your Level 1 Assistant Coach qualification from England Athletics, which is a fantastic achievement! Can you tell us more about the course and what you enjoyed about it?

I enjoyed the course a lot.  I had the course book and the power point slides before the course to give me time to read through.  We worked in a classroom and practically in small groups, changing roles.  It was helpful and fun.  It was also a very hot weekend.

On a Thursday I help coach the DSActive / Exeter Harriers group which started last June.

Do you like playing any other sports?

I like table tennis and used to play football.  I enjoy cycling on our tandem with my Dad.

Do you have any advice for anyone else who wants to get into athletics or earn a coaching qualification?

Go for it and be positive.  Joining a local club or Special Olympics group is a good way into athletics.  Try running, jumping and throwing to find what you enjoy. When you have experience you may be encouraged to do a coaching course.

In October 2018 I received England Athletics Volunteer of the Year Award for the South West region.  It was presented by Jo Pavey, Olympic athlete and an Exeter Harrier too.  She is an inspiration and role model to others.

Thanks Mark, some great advice for other aspiring athletes and well done on your achievements! Have you got a story to tell? Email and you could be featured on our website.