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Inspirational Annie to run Redbrik Chesterfield Half Marathon after mental health battle

Annie Windley, 21.
Annie Windley, 21.

A keen runner who has used exercise to help with her recovery from mental health issues will be taking on the Redbrik Chesterfield Half Marathon.

Annie Windley, 21, from Woolley Moor, was diagnosed with a severe eating disorder in 2012, but after five years of hospital admissions, professional treatment and intensive care, decided to take up running to aid her recovery to ‘overcome the demon holding her down’.

And now, six months into training for the race on October 21 – which will be Annie’s first-ever endurance event – she is looking to inspire others while also raising money for Ashgate Hospicecare, the half marathon’s main charity partner, after being told of the hospice’s work by a neighbour.

Annie said: “I’ve always had a passion for running and I like to say that my running shoes are really ‘erasers’ – every step erases some past failure. Every mile brings us closer to a new slate.

“Each foot striking the ground runs away a word, a look or even an event which led us to falsely believe that success was beyond our grasp.”

She added: "It’s important that when you feel like you cannot go another step, that’s when you give it everything you’ve got.

“I believe that everyone has the ability to turn their pain into power, and for some extra motivation to try a new challenge.

“My boyfriend Steve has been extremely supportive of me and encourages me to pursue my dreams while also motivating me, lifting my spirits and believing in my strength to reach new heights.”

Annie has dedicated up to four hours a day training for the 13.1-mile event – running up to 20km at times and regularly visiting the gym – and has also refused to let a niggling knee injury rule her out.

Beth Cole, events fundraiser at Ashgate Hospicecare, said: “What Annie is doing is simply inspirational.

“It’s well documented these days that running and exercise can have such a positive impact on a person’s mental health as well as physical fitness, and Annie’s story further underlines the important role physical activity plays on improving a person’s wellbeing.

“It’s also fantastic to hear that Annie is fundraising for Ashgate Hospicecare. We’re proud to be the main charity partner of the 2018 Redbrik Chesterfield Half Marathon, providing care to patients across North Derbyshire at our hospice and in the community."

If you would like to make a donation to Annie's fundraising, click here
More information about the half marathon can be found here