JANUARY 2022: Dani Battersby first joined RunBrighton for our winter 2018/19 training. She was relatively new to running back then, and has since gone on to complete ultra-distance events and triathlons too.
She has also recently begun helping out as an ambassador on our Sunday training runs.
Have you always been quite active, Dani?
Having spent my childhood in the Austrian alps, I have always enjoyed an outdoorsy life. It is part of the culture to spend the weekends hiking in the mountains, to go foraging in the woods, skiing in the winter, tobogganing with school, ice skating on the lakes, and suchlike. Regretfully, though, I never had a sport as such, as a child, and was never part of a club.
How did you first get into running and what prompted you to join RunBrighton?
In hindsight, it was far too late. I didn’t start until I had children. I struggled with the relentlessness of being a new mum and I felt that I didn’t have a lot of support and down time. I found that going for a jog whilst the babies were asleep in the buggy was a great way of doing something for myself and forget about the baby stuff for a little while. The distances started to increase, I downloaded an app to track my progress and I found I was getting better and faster. And it gave me the energy I desperately needed as a sleep-deprived, new mum.
I actually signed up for the 2019 Brighton Marathon, when I was drunk. At that time, I had only run 10km, and didn’t really know what I was doing. I went up and down the seafront, looking at what other runners were doing and copying them. I came across the RunBrighton website, and that’s when I wrote to you for help, resulting in me signing up for the 2018/19 season.
I remember being very nervous about my first session; I initially felt intimidated and out of place. However, running with a group for the first time, being able to keep up with people, and getting introduced to new routes around Brighton was a complete game changer. I love the community feel of RunBrighton; it’s not just about the running. Everyone has a story to tell and it’s extremely inspiring to listen to so many on our Sunday morning runs with the groups.
And what made you take up triathlons?
During my first maternity leave I taught myself how to front crawl, by watching YouTube videos. Swimming became a regular thing, uncoached and with bad technique, but with a lot of enjoyment and it’s a great way to get time out from mum duties. I went into the sea more and more and really loved it. I started looking at that next thing after my first marathon (Brighton, of course) and found a triathlon I was really interested in. I signed up for Windsor to Brighton, triathlon style. That meant upgrading from my ramshackle ‘mum’ bike to something better, and a fellow RunBrighton runner kindly loaned me a bike. That was it; I was hooked.
How would you summarise what it is that motivates you?
I love the friendships. I love the sense of achievement. I love being able to drink and eat whatever I want – it’s a great perk. I would like to think my children are influenced by having an active mum and they love playing with the medals I bring home. Also, I am fascinated by what our bodies can do when given the opportunity.
Tell us about the ultra events you’ve done and what it is that appeals to you about the longer distances?
I’ve made some great friendships through running, and many of us share the love for trails and the desire for adventure. Every trail run is different, and there is something quite rewarding about allowing your body to show what it can achieve, without the mind interrupting it. For me, a lot of endurance running is about the ability to only listen to your optimism and not allow the demons to creep in.
I love race days and I particularly enjoy them at smaller, more personal events. Long distance trail runs have a different atmosphere to a large, road race, but they’re equally as exciting.
What would you say has been your best running experience, so far?
I already have many wonderful memories, but I hope the best ones are yet to come.
I signed up for an ultra in the Austrian Alps during lockdown and at the height of feeling hopelessly homesick. I hadn’t seen my family and I missed the mountains terribly. It was going to be 91km in 5000m elevation across one of my favourite mountain ranges. I made it to the start – against all odds, as travelling was unpredictable. I flew out the day before the race, with no time to recce the course, and it was a self-navigated, night run, with an improvised detour due to a landslide. I took an accidental shortcut, got utterly lost in the mountains and disqualified myself. I finished the run at 64km with 3500 elevation, in a little village, drinking beer at 6am, and I could not have been happier. This run was never about a medal or the finish. I had the best coming-home experience. I then spent two weeks with my family, just being grateful to be with them again. And I am still proud to have run a really good run – just with an improvised finish line!
What’s next on your event calendar, Dani?
I have a busy few months ahead – Brighton Half, Steyning Stinger marathon, South Downs Way 50 and South Downs Way 100 (with a lot of fingers and toes crossed), and then in October, my favourite… Beachy Head marathon.
And how do you spend your time when not training and racing?
The girls – Matilda (six) and Mariette (four) – keep me busy. I love spending time with them. We go to the beach a lot. In fact, we have a beach hut near hove lagoon. I take them to Austria whenever I can, and they love it over there. I swim in the sea all year round, I cycle a fair bit, I work full time and I don’t mind a drink or two.
Dani, it’s been great to chat. Congratulations on all you’ve achieved in such a short space of time, thanks for your help with RunBrighton, and good luck with all your forthcoming events.
By Mike Bannister