How COVID inspired Elmer to take up running

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Elmer got into running due to the threat of COVID and is set to take part in this year’s Great Birmingham Run for charity.

Picture by Paula Elmer

A Birmingham runner is planning to pound the city streets to burn-off the mental trauma of COVID and raise money for charity.

The Great Birmingham Run, taking place on October 10, is organised by The Great Run Company.

Some 250,000 people have taken part in the nationwide event since its foundation in 1981, with the run helping to raise £24m for a range of charities.

The route starts on New Street before heading past the Bull Ring. The course then goes through a number of the city’s parks, around Edgbaston Cricket ground and into Digbeth. The run finishes outside Aston University.

Dominic Elmer, Villa fan and an avid runner, explained how the effects of national lockdown inspired him to take up running.

He said: “It was just the fear of another national lockdown looming and needing to have an escape. It’s massively helped my physical and mental wellbeing and that has helped with going back to work.

“Lockdown had a terrible effect on me. Prior to November I was just about to go back to work full time and then BOOM. Back to the beginning. I was not sleeping, mood swings and just not really in a good place. I felt helpless and I feared that I may be made redundant, and I was lost.

“I spoke to my wife and I went to the doctor and got put on medication. Medication is only a prop that helps you get on your feet, you need yourself to take the next step.

“That’s what running gave me. It gave me an escape. I explored more of my local area, my spirits were lifted, and the support of the Villa Running Club was fantastic.”

Elmer explained that the camaraderie and support that he received from fellow members of the Villa Running Club has drastically improved his mental health.

He said: “There are lots of messages of support and it’s great to be part of something. I had what I felt was a terrible run a few weeks ago and the support from the guys was priceless. One of them said it’s better to have a bad run than to make an excuse and not run at all. I liked that.

“I’m a Brummie who lives in Stratford now so it will be a great chance to run an event in my hometown where more of my extended family and friends can support.

“It’s for the foundation, it’s my home and it’s going to be a great event to get involved with. I’ve already got the route so when training starts I will do some of the legs in preparation.”

Elmer is running on behalf of the Aston Villa Foundation, a charity affiliated with the Premier League club. Their aim is to raise money for the local community.

Villa’s shirt sponsor Cazoo donated £1,000 for every goal scored during the Premier League season, with the final total standing at £57,000.

In the last event he took part in, the Jurassic Coast Challenge, Elmer exceeded his initial donation target for the foundation. He hopes to raise a similar amount or more by participating in the Great Birmingham Run.

He said: “I set a target of £500 for the Jurassic Coast Challenge and have raised £685 so far. If I can do the same I will be chuffed.”

Elmer reserved a special mention for one person in particular, who has helped him with his running throughout lockdown.

He said: “I could not have done all this throughout lockdown without my friend Duncan Edgeley. As soon as I took up running he did as well and we’ve run every step together and will carry on the journey on the weekend.”

Picture by Alex Gooch

Dani Casey, who runs the Villa Running Club, has given her backing to Elmer. She said: “Dominic is a really positive and proactive member of the Villa Running Club and I’m absolutely thrilled that not only is he part of the virtual running club, but that it’s also been a conduit to inspire him to run the Great Birmingham Run for the foundation.”

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