Annabel Matthews-Smith shares her Run Happy story as the latest winner in our Brooks competition series

Nationals at Parliament Hill. The most gruelling, competitive, fun and exciting cross-country race that I could have possibly endured.

Angled Polaroid AnnabelA rapid 5km was about to begin. Starting in pens at the bottom of Hampstead Heath, I felt like a horse being restrained from starting.

The claxon goes and a stampede of club runners from all over the country shoots off. Top of the hill, I think “we’re only just at the top, how can I be out of breath?!”

The course continues, some runners drop out, some overtake me, I overtake others. Mud squelches everywhere you tread, filling your shoes, making you carry that extra weight. You can never avoid that.

People cheer you on from every part of the course. The support drives me to push on through the pain. My legs beg for me to retire but I think to myself, “I made it to this race, I’m not last, I can’t give up now”. I would regret it. Determination pushes me through the discomfort.

Angled Polaroid 2 AnnabelWe start a descent and the skyline of London can be seen. Relentlessly I progress to the finish. Call it what you want: stubbornness, endurance, determination, guts. But deep down, I don’t know how to give up (and it’s always worth it in the end). My happiest running moment yet.


Brooks believes in the transformative power of the run. The run can turn a day – or a life – completely around and can flat-out change the world.

That’s why each month they’re rewarding one AW reader for sharing what makes them Run Happy. We want to hear all about your Run Happy experience, whether it’s a first race, a new PB or a moment that changed your race around. It can be anything.

Each month we will pick our favourite story. Not only will it appear in Athletics Weekly, but the owner of that story will receive Brooks kit including footwear, a jacket and a tee.

Click here for further details and to submit your story.

On Twitter? Why not get social?! We’d love for you to share your stories and pictures on Twitter too – just tweet @AthleticsWeekly and @Brooksrunninguk using the hashtag #RUNHAPPYRACES.