Inspirational 58 year old, Chichester resident, Warrell Harries is running this year’s Children on the Edge Chichester Half Marathon, just over a year after suffering a life-changing heart attack.
Last June, Warrell, who considered himself fairly fit and well, suffered a heart attack; which kick started a new healthy lifestyle and commitment to transform his life. We spoke to Warrell this week as he told us his incredible story ahead of the sixth Children on the Edge Chichester Half Marathon next weekend - Sunday 8th October.
His symptoms started one Wednesday morning in June 2016 as he cycled to work; but he didn’t recognise the signs and brushed them off. A few days later, he was out for lunch with friends and family when the same feelings came back. He describes them much like asthma symptoms. As he started to feel worse, he finally decided to go to St Richards in Chichester to get checked out. He was told he was having a heart attack and was sent straight to Queen Alexandra Hospital to see the heart specialists there. After surgery to clear a blocked artery, and fit a couple of stents, Warrell was told he could ‘go back to normal’ in around 6 weeks’ time.
Despite being fairly active, Warrell knew that his drinking and eating habits were probably to blame, and that he did need to start taking better care of himself. He was determined to make a change. In the autumn, his daughter, a keen runner, encouraged him to give running a try. Warrell assumed his asthma would prevent him from running, but bought some cheap trainers and gave it a go.
Soon after, his daughter asked if he was going to do a Parkrun. He was aware of these free Saturday morning timed runs that take place all over the country. But Warrell again assumed this would be far too much for him, as he’d never ran more than 10 minutes in one go. But his determination, and the encouragement of his daughter spurred him on. So, he went along to Oaklands Park in Chichester one Saturday morning to give it a go.
He said that on his first run, he managed to ‘get to the rugby club’ before thinking ‘this was ridiculous’ and gave up. But he returned week after week and hasn’t looked back since.
In July 2017, Warrell was lucky enough to able to meet the founder of Parkrun by chance when on holiday in Lymington. He decided to join in on the local Parkrun as a ‘tourist’. He got chatting to a few people on the course, one of whom took an interest in his story and encouraged him to talk more about his running and how he got there. Warrell didn’t realise that the man he was talking to was in fact Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who founded Parkrun!
Shortly after, a friend Kim, who’d also recently had a health scare, encouraged Warrell to sign up for the Chichester Half Marathon. He thought the course would be too tough, and initially said no. But after a bit of pressure from Kim, and his daughter, he couldn’t refuse! So Warrell will be taking on our beautiful, but tough course next weekend.
His incredible transformation will also benefit Papyrus, the national charity for the prevention of young suicide, as Warrell has chosen to fundraise for them at the race this year. Papyrus is a charity very close to his heart; after he heard about the tragic death of an old colleague’s daughter, who lost his daughter to suicide last year. You can sponsor Warrell on his Just Giving page here.
Warrell said that his heart attack has changed his outlook on life. He doesn’t want to “waste this fabulous opportunity” now he’s been given a second chance. He also said that his new found love of life especially resonates with the work of Papyrus who believe that with appropriate support and education, many young suicides can be prevented. He wants to do his bit to ensure that more young people can be supported.
All of us at Children on the Edge are blown away by Warrells’ story, and we’re so pleased that our flagship fundraising event, the Chichester Half Marathon will play a small part on his recovery journey; as well as help raise vital funds for another worthy charity.
If you'd like to enter the Chichester Half Marathon 2017, you can do so until Wednesday 4th October at 11.30pm. We're also looking for volunteers to help on the day. Find out more below.