Superheroes come in many different forms these days. And everyone has their own version of a hero. Hayley Edwards from Blaina near Abertillery is one of mine.
I first came across the pictures of Hayley, like I come across most things these days; on social media.
I’m not sure whether it was because we had mutual friends or because Hayley lived near me, or the fact that both the local and national press went wild for her story, but her journey captured my attention immediately.
You see, Hayley lost a lot of weight! And we are talking A LOT OF WEIGHT. In fact she pretty much lost the equivalent of my weight, she lost a Hannah!
Weighing just over twenty three stone, one day, Hayley got stuck in a turnstile at a rugby match. It was that trigger point moment that spurred Hayley towards her weight loss journey and don’t get me wrong I’m totally amazed by her determination, her graft and downright diligence that ensured she lost over eleven stone but that’s not why she’s my hero, she’s my hero because now she runs, but she doesn’t just run, she inspires others to run to.
Yes, Hayley Edwards, one time overweight mother, who once thought running was not what people like her did, runs half marathons, in fact she frequently runs half marathons, and 10k’s and any available race she can because she loves running but not only does she love running, she loves getting everyone else to run too! Her husband Gareth has since lost a lot of weight himself and completed the Manchester marathon this year and I hear she’s currently in talks with her two children about getting parkrun barcodes!
‘I first did a race for life 5k.’ She told me when I met up with her recently to talk about her running journey. ‘And do you know what; it’s still my fastest 5k time!’
We spoke about how Race for Life is an amazing barrier breaker for women who want to start running, especially women who want an event as a goal to participate in, ‘And I think it’s good to remember how far I’ve come, what that first run was like.’ She tells me so modestly I think I love her a bit. ‘I have a terrible habit of saying; oh it’s just three miles, without remembering how far three miles used to be for me!’
‘I get it.’ I tell her because I do, I’m guilty of this far too often.
‘And what’s next?’ I finally ask somewhat overwhelmed by Hayley’s achievements.
‘A running group.’ She tells me somewhat nervously. ‘Gareth, my husband, has a Facebook group called Edd’s Eagles and we’re hoping to branch out from virtual to actual.’
She laughs. And she laughs, it strikes me, because she’s still competently unaware of how inspirational she is, how amazing her endeavours have been and just how plain lovely her vision of getting more people, more active, more often is.
‘And maybe a marathon...one day.’ She shakes her head.
Like I said, superheroes come in all shapes and forms but if your near the Abertillery valley keep an eye out for some super Eagles in the next few months!