Running Retro

Running backwards is the latest twist on exercise events aiming to break down barriers in sport by showing people they can do more than they think they can.

The organiser of the one-mile event in Cadishead claims running backwards puts the fun back into fun run and can be just as beneficial as running forwards.

Shantelle Gaston-Hird, who lives in Manchester, decided to organise the event when she took part in a similar event held at Heaton Park.

The backwards run will take place on Sunday 30th December at the Cadishead Rhinos training ground at 9am.

Ms Gaston-Hird, 31 said: ‘’ I organised it all, but on the day I’ll have volunteers helping me.

‘’I’ve had a few people in the local community reach out to me and they’ve heard what I’m doing and they’ve said they really want to get involved.

‘’My goal is to get local people running around in their local area, so this is an initial event to see how it goes and then look how I can develop it and expand the event to different locations.

‘’I’ve recently started to play touch rugby with the Cadishead Rhinos female team. They have lots of green space so the event is being held here at the training ground in Cadishead.’’

Shantelle wants to highlight that the fun run isn’t about what level of fitness you are at.

She explains: ‘’It doesn’t matter about people’s fitness levels you can run, you can walk.

‘’The main goal of it is to do it backwards.

‘’The reason why it’s important to do it backwards is because it has got rehabilitation benefits.

‘’We do everything going forwards all the time and we sit down all the time and by doing the motion of running backwards you’re actually straightening yourself up.

‘’So, it’s actually really good fitness for you.’’

Running backwards is said to strengthen the opposing muscle groups that you normally work when running forward.

Forward running puts a lot of pressure on the hamstrings and knees. Whereas, backward running will strengthen your calves, quads and shins to balance muscular strength.

Running Retro
Shantelle demonstrating you can run backwards on a treadmill

Shantelle first took part in a backwards run when she was captain of her roller derby team.

She continues: ‘’I noticed that the people that were doing stuff outside of training were working better as a team on the track.

So, I researched activities people can do that were non-alcoholic based and tried to look for something that would involve team bonding.

‘’That’s where I came across the race at Heaton Park.

‘’I got a group of people together and encouraged them saying it’s quirky and it’ll be fun, let’s do it.

‘’So, there was about seven of us and we all went along and none of us had done anything like this prior to going along to the event and we ended up winning.

‘’We won the best team time as well and the seven of us got a goody bag and we were all shocked.

‘’We were thinking how have we won this we just turned up for fun.

A sports enthusiast, Shantelle has achieved many sporting accomplishments which she credits for inspiring her to keep achieving.

She explains: ‘’I currently hold the Guinness World Record for fastest female to run half a marathon backwards. I competed it in 2 hours 27 minutes and 9 seconds.

‘’I did this to raise to help raise money for a bullying charity.

‘’The idea behind he run was to stand out from the crowd and if you stand out embrace it.

‘’So, that really inspired me for the Retro Run.

‘’I have completed five marathons and eight ultra-marathons (between 38 and 55 miles).

‘’Last year I summited Kilimanjaro and completed the National three peak challenge.

‘’At the moment I am currently training for a middle distance triathlon to qualify to become a GB age group triathlete next year.’’

Although Shantelle has achieved in her sporting goals, she highlights the barriers in sport.

She continues: ‘’I do a lot of endurance sports and I did a triathlon last year in France and there was 1.401 men competing and 356 women.

‘’What I find with women is that they feel very self-conscious and they can feel like they can’t do certain activities.

‘’The thing about Retro Run is that it breaks down those barriers because everyone is going to look silly.

Running Retro
Shantelle and her brother and sister, showing anyone can run backwards

‘’It’s about making people feel more comfortable. I find that women struggle with looking uncomfortable, more than men do.

‘’I think the event is about being brave and I challenge every single person to either come and watch or take part because it is so fun.

‘’Every person I’ve done it with have had a blast and laughed all the way through.

‘’It’s just fun, you look a little bit ridiculous, but its good fun.’’

The event aims to encourage local people to get out and using the green spaces available.

Shantelle continues: ‘’I want the event to be really accessible to the local community. I want everyone to get out and be active with their families.

‘’Sometimes people can be stuck because they need to get a babysitter, but families can do this event together.’’

Mission statement for the Retro Run:

  • To encourage people to maximise the use of local green space
  • To break down barriers in sport by showing individuals they can do more than they think they can.
  • To encourage families to be active together
  • To increase the number of women in sport
  • To educate people on the importance of cross training to prevent injury
  • To help show that exercise and sports can be fun

Shantelle adds: ‘’I’m inspired by meeting and I want to help inspire other people from this event.

‘’I don’t want people to say I can’t run forwards never mind backwards, because I’ve done it and it is possible and it’s really fun.

‘’It’s the Sunday before New Year’s Eve so it gets everybody out in the outdoors before the New Year’s celebrations start.

‘’I guarantee you’ll have the best New Year’s Eve party talk.’’

Adult tickets cost £5 and a child’s ticket costs £2.50. You can enter here

Or you can enter on the day.

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