5 September 2017
Weighing in at more than 18 stone and so unfit that he got out of breath climbing the stairs, Jorge Bronze may have looked unlikely to be able to jog round the block – let alone run a full marathon.
But just a few years after he decided to lose weight, get fit and take up running, Jorge, from Walkley, ran this year’s London Marathon in less than three hours, and regularly finishes in first place at Hillsborough parkrun.
The 27-year-old also weighs in six stones lighter than he did that day back in 2013, when he looked in the mirror and decided it was time to get fit, for good.
“Everything has changed”, he said. “I run every day – for my mental health as well as to stay fit – I cycle to work every day, and unless I’ve got a big race coming up, I don’t even worry about my weight any more.
“Losing weight is like a performance-enhancing drug, only legal. I started running in 2014 and ran my first marathon less than two years later, in 3hrs and 19 seconds.
“In this year’s London Marathon I knocked more than five minutes off that time, and with some more hard work I know I can get faster, too.”
Growing up in Northumberland, Jorge was fit and active as a child, playing rugby and football for his school.
But it was after he moved to Sheffield to study at university that the weight began creeping on.
“I wasn’t doing any organised sport any more, was drinking more alcohol, and wasn’t watching what I ate”, he said.
“Although I was buying bigger clothes, and I would get out of breath and sweaty very quickly, I didn’t really realise that I was getting so much bigger.
“One day I looked in the mirror, though, and I could see it, especially in my face. I decided that I was going to lose some weight, so downloaded an app for counting calories.
“After about two weeks of doing that, I came to the realisation that I could eat more calories if I did some running, so I started doing short runs near my house in Walkley.”
At first, Jorge did laps of around 800m, “so I was never too far from my own front door”, and, after he could run 5km without stopping, decided to venture onto the trails of Rivelin Valley.
Rivelin is now home to two signed Run Routes as part of the Outdoor City project – and Jorge says it remains a fantastic place for beginners to start their running journey.
“The fantastic thing about Rivelin”, he said, “is that the trails are well marked, there are usually other people around, and it’s impossible to get lost.
“Plus, if you’re not wanting to run very far, you can drive there and park right by the trail, and then run as far or as little as you like.
“I’d really encourage beginner runners to give the Run Routes a go.”
Jorge ran his first parkrun – a free, weekly 5k series of events – in August 2014, at Hillsborough. It took him 24 mins and 13 seconds – a time he has now shaved down by more than seven minutes.
He said: “Parkrun, I think, is one of the very best things you can do to feel better about doing physical activity.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re running the 5k in 16 minutes or in 45 minutes – nobody cares. Nobody cares if you’re last, or if you’re first. It’s all about taking part, having fun and watching your own times get faster and faster.
“I made friends through parkrun who boosted my enthusiasm and motivation for running and now, if I’m not running, I regularly volunteer there.
“The parkrun movement is absolutely fantastic and, with five different free events taking place each week here in Sheffield, it’s really easy for anyone to go along, take part and try it for themselves.”
Jorge now weighs around 12.5 stone and recently set a new 5k PB of 16:57.
“If I can do it, anyone can”, he said. “The great thing about losing weight, especially when you’re as big as I was, is that it comes off pretty quickly at first, so I found it easy to stay motivated.
“And when my weight began to plateau, I could look at the app, see the graph showing how much weight I’d lost, and that kept me going.”
The Run Route initiative, funded by England Athletics, was officially launched last year as part of the wider Outdoor City project and makes it easier than ever for new runners to get going in Sheffield.
In total, 30 signed Run Routes have been created at 14 locations across the city, providing simple-to-follow, traffic-free trails from urban sites to fantastic green spaces and stunning viewpoints, through Sheffield’s diverse parks and woodlands.
There is something to suit everyone, with a number of different options and colour-coded routes at each site, graded as Easy, Medium, Hard and Challenging, and which loop back to a clear starting point with a noticeboard and map.
Sites in the first phase of the project were Concord Park and Woolley Woods, Ecclesall Woods, Bradfield, Graves Park, Lowfield, Manor Fields Park, and Ponderosa and Crookes Valley.
In the second phase, new routes were added at Rivelin, High Hazels, Firth Park, Shire Brook Nature Reserve, Thorncliffe and Wharncliffe.
Walkers and runners can see maps and descriptions of all Run Routes, as well as videos, on The Outdoor City website.
Handy pocket-sized leaflets are also available, detailing each of the run routes, with photos and maps.
For more information, visit The Outdoor City website here.