It certainly won’t be a walk in the park but considering the gruelling life challenges Stephen Kirk has overcome in recent years, he’ll definitely be putting everything into his Tour of Tameside performance.
As one of our Tour of Tameside competition winners 40-year-old dad-of-two Stephen will take part in all four races starting on 15th June.
But it’s been a long road to get to where he is today.
Stephen is a recovering alcoholic and cocaine addict and running has been a huge part of his recovery journey.
He’s been clean and sober for almost three-and-a-half years but says at one point he couldn’t even run a bath let alone a 10k.
He’s certainly come on leaps and bounds in a very short space of time.
Now a member of Hyde Village Striders Stephen’s first venture into running came in April last year when he took part in a charity run for Charlesworth Cricket Club.
“At that point I realised I was severely unfit,” he said.
“I joined the striders that summer and joined the gym in January this year.
“The running helped to aid my mental health and recovery. I’ve found running and general exercise really helps clear my mind.
“I started by doing the park runs and gradually built up from there.
“We have a recovery running group where we meet up on Saturdays and do the park runs then go for breakfast afterwards. It’s a social thing as well as a fitness thing.
“It aids my recovery and keeps me to keep fit. I can now keep up with my four-year-old!”
Stephen has never taken part in the Tour of Tameside before but has done the Alderley Edge 10k and has signed up to the Warrington, Manchester and Heaton Park half marathon’s later this year.
In preparation for the Tour he’s being checking out three of the routes and upped his running to three to four times a week alongside yoga, circuit and spin classes as well as cycling to work.
“I wanted to challenge myself as it’s something I haven’t done before,” he said.
“There’s lots of noise and buzz around it through the club.
“I’m looking forward to doing it but my head and body both say different things!
“As this is my first Tour, it’s more about finish lines than finish times.”
Stephen, a team leader, says his participation in the Tour isn’t just a huge personal milestone, he also wants it to be an inspiration to others who are facing or have faced similar situations around addiction and depression.
“If I can help just one person overcome addiction by example that would be awesome,” said Stephen.
“In the last 15 months running has been a massive help and has taken my mental health to another level.”
He does admit to still having one weakness though.
“It’s not really relevant, more factual,” he added.
“I also run to eat more cake!”
Everyone at Active Tameside is rooting for you Stephen! All the best on your first Tour of Tameside!
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