SEPTEMBER 2019: Well known to many on the Brighton & Hove running scene, Georgia Carrick is usually to be found on Hove Prom on a Saturday morning, where she is a member of the parkrun core team.
With numerous races up to marathon distance in the bag, Georgia has not allowed serious illness to hold her back from running. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in August last year, undergoing chemotherapy and then major surgery in January 2019, and has continued to train, take part in races and support others.
Having completed several seasons with RunBrighton, I’m delighted that she has agreed to be an ambassador for us this winter. I know Georgia will be a great asset to the team, encouraging and motivating our runners.
How are you now, Georgia?
I’m feeling pretty well now, thanks Mike. However, I’m still undergoing active treatment for breast cancer. This involves me having Herceptin and Perjeta injections into my thigh, every three weeks. There’s light at the end of the tunnel though, as I only have three more to go and they should hopefully all be finished on 27 November 2019.
It must be great to know the treatment is almost at an end.
Perhaps you could tell us a bit about yourself / your family / what you do for a living?
Having lived in Brighton for approximately 17 years, I moved back to Burgess Hill last year and am currently living there, just me and my cat! I grew up in Burgess Hill and my family are still here also, which is why I came back.
I currently work for Brighton & Hove City Council and my job is mainly office based, but my main love is for all things active and outdoors. So, you’ll normally find me out running or volunteering at various different events across the city.
How did you first get into running? Has sport and exercise always played an important part in your life?
I’ve always been really active and was a keen netball player and 1500m runner back in my younger years. I held the school record for 1500m when I was 11 years old! I carried on playing netball through college and uni, but stopped running and had a few rather sedentary years just after uni.
A friend of mine then decided she wanted to join the army and needed to get fit. So, I decided I would get fit with her and we started running together. We were starting completely from scratch, so we would pick a landmark to run to and then get there and walk a bit, then repeat it, gradually increasing the amount of time we were running.
My friend then decided she wasn’t going to join the army and ditched the running, but of course by then I’d caught the bug and carried it on.
It must have been devastating to have been hit with health issues. What do you recall of how you initially coped with the news, and what were you able to do to try and maintain some fitness?
I remember the day well. It was August 2nd at 3.30pm. I was completely devastated and for the first few weeks, when I was undergoing every test and scan possible, I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with what lay ahead.
I was extremely lucky, however, as my first oncologist was a marathon runner and triathlete, and she was very keen for me to stay active. I remember one of the very first appointments with her, she said to me “You’re going to lose your hair” and I said “right, but will I be able to keep running?”
Then on the very first day of chemo, I went into see her before we started and she said to me “You might fancy a run tonight”. I couldn’t believe it. I nearly fell off my chair. So that evening, I stuck on my trainers and we went for a run!
It was good to be outside and doing something normal after a whole day in the hospital.
I also decided that day that I would run after every single round of chemo. I had 16 rounds in total and managed to run after every one. Someone said to me at the start that I wouldn’t be able to run all the way through chemo, but that was like a red rag to a bull and just made me more determined.
I became quite anaemic towards the end of chemo, so I did have to be careful about not pushing too hard. I became much slower and had to walk bits, but I was determined to keep going as it made me feel ‘normal’.
I get the impression you’ve had a great support network around you. How would you summarise the support you’ve received from friends and family?
I have an amazing network of friends and family around me and I couldn’t have got through the last 14 months without them. My mum and several friends came to chemo and appointments with me. I also had a little group of ‘chemo runners’ who would regularly run with me at parkrun and in the week. I ran my 100th parkrun in the middle of chemo. My mum came and volunteered that day and my brother and a number of friends I’ve met through running over the years came and ran with me. Emma Bristow baked me one of her famous cakes as well!
I know that one of the things your friends have done to show support, was to run London Marathon this year to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. How much has been raised and is it still possible for people to donate now?
We’ve raised loads of money for MacMillan since my diagnosis. We had a coffee morning on the prom after parkrun last September and so many people gave generously. We raised £860.40 that day, just from cakes, suggesting many of us really do run just so we can eat cake! I can’t thank the amazing community at the prom enough for their support, over the last year.
Then, Suzy Hawker and Mark Bailey ran London Marathon this year, dressed as a couple of boobs. It must have been pretty tough running in those outfits, but they raised an amazing £2820.00 for MacMillan.
You can still donate to Suzy’s page at:
My brother, Justin, is really active too, and took on a challenge with a group of his friends to ride the South Downs Way, twice, non-stop, for Breast Cancer Care. That’s 200 miles! And he raised a staggering £2798.30. He didn’t do it dressed as a boob though!
I imagine your objectives with your running have changed somewhat since your diagnosis?
My perspective on running has completely changed. I used to constantly be training hard and trying to beat my previous times. However, right now, I’m just happy to be able to run at whatever pace. I’m not thinking about speed at all and am just enjoying being outdoors, running and regaining my fitness. I’m really looking forward to getting up on the downs in the rain, wind and mud, something I really missed last winter!
What’s next on your race calendar?
I have Manchester Half Marathon in a few weeks time, but haven’t entered too much whilst I’m still having treatment.
What have you enjoyed about your seasons with RunBrighton and how do you think it helped you most with your training?
I think I’ve done four or five winter seasons and one summer season with RunBrighton. I really enjoy the different routes, which I would never have known on my own. I also really enjoy running in a steady pace group. It really helped me discipline my own pace for long distance, as it’s very easy to go off too fast in a race and then have to pay for it later!
From what you’ve learned, what would be your key tips for anyone preparing for their first half or full marathon?
I would say focus on completing the race rather than pressurising yourself to meet a specific time goal.
Make sure you practise different types of fuelling on the run and figure out what works for you ahead of the race. Don’t try anything different on race day.
Enjoy the experience of training and meeting like-minded people along the way.
And remember that rest is an important part of training!
Georgia, great to chat. You’re a true inspiration and I’m chuffed you’re going to be part of our ambassador team over the winter. We wish you well with the remainder of your treatment, and best of luck in Manchester!
By Mike Bannister