Runner Feature - Nicole Nation RunThrough Running Club LondonWho am I?

My name is Nicole, I’m 26 and I am Jamaican.

How I got started?

I am a postgraduate Public Health student at the University of Sheffield. In April of this year, I volunteered to be apart of the University’s fundraising team. I got a collection tin, and I went around telling everyone that I was going to do the half marathon, and I would love if they could support the cause. For my first half marathon, I did not do much training, I think it was naivety. I managed to complete the course, but I was more traumatised, if anything. The hills of Sheffield, the frigid conditions, it was a though half marathon.

The charity I’m supporting is The Sickle Cell Society.

More about Sickle Cell Disorder

Sickle cell is a disorder of the haemoglobin in the red blood cells. Haemoglobin is the substance in red blood cells that is responsible for the colour of the cell and for carrying oxygen around the body. People with sickle cell disorder are born with the condition, it is not contagious. It can only be inherited from both parents each having passed on the gene for sickle cell. The main symptoms of sickle cell disorder are anaemia and episodes of severe pain. The pain occurs when the cells change shape after oxygen has been released. The red blood cells then stick together, causing blockages in the small blood vessels. These painful episodes are referred to as Sickle Cell crisis. They are treated with strong painkillers such as morphine to control the pain. People with sickle cell are at risk of complications stroke, acute chest syndrome, blindness, bone damage and priapism (a persistent, painful erection of the penis). Over time people with sickle cell can experience damage to organs such as the liver, kidney, lungs, heart and spleen. Death can also result from complications of the disorder. Treatment of sickle cell mostly focuses on preventing and treating complications. The only possible cure for the disorder is bone marrow transplant but this is only possible for a limited number of affected individuals who have a suitable donor. A medicine called Hydroxyurea, can significantly reduce the number of painful crises.

The Sickle Cell Society believes that individuals with sickle cell disease have the right to quality care. Find out more about Sickle Cell Society and how you can support the charity HERE.

No Intention for my Degree to be a Conversation Piece

I think being in public health, I am exposed to a lot of statistics. And unfortunately, most statistics are not positive. I think being an international student as well has given me the opportunity to step back and be objective, when it comes to these stats. One of the statistics I remember coming across was, ‘Black adults in the UK are the most likely out of all ethnic groups to be overweight or obese’ (Public Health England, 2018). I was horrified when I read that! I didn’t want this to be my narrative nor for my peers in the BME community. So, I made the decision to I raise awareness about ‘Minority Health Disparities’ in the UK for the remaining 6 months that I had left in my programme. I could show you statistic after statistic about the health status of minorities. But I think actively doing something about it is much better.

The ‘Bling’ Does Help

It does help that we get medals at the end, whether you come first or last. At the moment, I average just under 3 hours and that is with a combination of walking and running during the half marathons. My home country, Jamaica, is renowned for its sprinters! And though I will never be a big league sprinter, I can still be active and get rewarded with the medal!

You can really go places!

I knew I always wanted to go Scotland; I just didn’t know when. I think when you set goals like this for yourself, you will undoubtedly attract some amazing experiences! A lot of logistics goes into doing half marathons, especially one who is on a student budget. For me, Edinburgh Half Marathon was an amazing experience, because I got to see the city, I visited Glasgow as well, and then I topped off the weekend by doing the half marathon. I am sure all the half-marathoners out there can relate to the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes after doing 13.1 miles. The other half marathons have also helped me to see the rest of the UK and meet other runners as well-which is great!

My Own Story

I am obese according to BMI standards. And so I am working to achieve a healthier weight overtime, and this is me trying to reduce my risk of developing lifestyle diseases.

I really want to share the importance of representation in half marathons. Minorities are generally underrepresented, and I want to encourage more persons to get involved!