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26 September 2017

When Port Glasgow resident Jennifer McKechnie decided to challenge herself with her first 5km, she never thought she’d catch the running bug and end up training to do double that distance through the Scottish capital.

The 38-year-old from Duntocher will take part in the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run Community Challenge on Sunday 1 October, after wanting to try out new limits.

Bank of Scotland, sponsors of the Great Scottish Run, launched the Community Challenge to help get Scotland active, with the aim of recruiting one runner from each of the Scottish local authorities to take on a ’10 week to 10k’ running challenge by following a personalised training plan, created by a Great Run expert coach.

Having completed the Inverclyde Couch to 5k, Jennifer was eager to push herself even further and help encourage others to get active.

“When me and another man from the area, Stephen Jenkins, started the Couch to 5km, we completed it and then there was nothing else to do and we wanted to move forward,” said the housing officer for West Dunbartonshire Council.

“So, we started thinking about a 10km and so I got involved with the Community Challenge to inspire other people to do the distance.”

After moving to Port Glasgow from Clyde Bank, Jennifer started a running group with Stephen, who had previously tried to start one in the area.

“At the end of April, we started our first nine-week Couch to 5k programme. Stephen and I are not trainers in any way but we understand that people do exercise better in a community,” she said.

“We tried to encourage friendships and encourage people to get involved in the social side as well and it’s really working.

“People still have friendships from the first nine-week programme, we’ve given a community feel to exercise and our motto is ‘start together, finish together.’

“We do two runs with the group a week, then encourage everyone else to hook up through Facebook and arrange a third run themselves.

“We encourage people to buddy up with each other and the focus is for people to forge good friendships through exercise – there’s nothing better than that.”

Starting at George Square in the heart of Glasgow, the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run will see runners follow the iconic route through the city before they reach the tree-lined finish in the shadow of Nelson’s Monument.

And rather than being daunted by her biggest challenge yet, Jennifer says she cannot stress enough how much the sport has changed her life for the better.

“The Great Scottish run will be my first competitive 10km, I’d like to do it under the hour, but that might be a bit optimistic.
“The fact that I’ve gone from not running, to being the organiser of a running group, then running a 10k – that makes me overjoyed.

“I’m using the training plan, it’s given me structure and keeps me disciplined because I’m not a trainer.

“I arrived in Port Glasgow four years ago and this has been really good for me to build up a life in this community.”

Bank of Scotland is supporting runners from communities across Scotland on their 10 weeks to a 10k challenge for the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run Community Challenge. For more information, click here

To enter the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run 10k click here

Watch the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run live on BBC Two from 11.00 to 13.45 on Sunday 1 October.

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