My Passion: Friendship with guest that turned into one long-running adventure for Mihaela Gruia

Mihaela Gruia: Has developed a passion for long distance running. Pic: James Hardisty
Mihaela Gruia: Has developed a passion for long distance running. Pic: James Hardisty
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How Mihaela Gruia, CEO of Research Retold, caught the long distance running bug and is now hooked rain or shine.

My passion for long distance running started with Sarah Chantler.

I met her in 2017. Sarah’s from South Africa and came to do a PhD at Leeds Beckett University. She lived in our spare bedroom for two weeks and was one of those lovely guests who often cooked dinner. We hit it off so well, that two weeks into our friendship, we invited her to our wedding.

My husband and I had a routine to run on the Leeds-Liverpool canal, three miles to Kirkstall Abbey and back. When Sarah found out about the canal, she suggested running all the way to Liverpool. Our response, ‘why not?’ The plan was to run in stages, then take a train, bus or combination of both, back to Leeds. Given our love for Yorkshire ale, we also organised our runs according to good pubs.

Our adventure began in November 2017. We ran 14 miles from Leeds to Saltaire and ate at the wonderful Don’t tell Titus pub. The next stage took us 10 miles further to Steeton and Silsden.

We waved at strangers on boats, said ‘good morning’ to people on the path. We passed the Five Rise Locks, which were impressive, and oddly, gave me vertigo.

The third stage was 12 miles to Gargrave. This was the grimmest run because we were cold and wet.

We visited Gargrave’s famous sweet shop and treated our tired bodies to jellies. We enjoyed a great pub meal at the Masons Arms: breaded mushrooms and a Sunday nut roast with extra gravy. Our feet had turned into raisins, yet, the adverse weather conditions made us more determined to finish our adventure.

We kicked off 2018 with 11 miles to Foulridge, crossing from Yorkshire to Lancashire.

Although the run was muddy, we enjoyed it, dipping into Sarah’s trail mix while watching the baby lambs fumble behind their mothers. Our fifth run was the longest one, 16 miles to Accrington in March. We arrived at our destination exhausted, yet happy.

The next challenge was 10 miles to Blackburn and it was during this run that we reached the halfway point to Liverpool (63 miles). In September, we ran 10 miles to Addlington and eight miles further to Wigan. We’re yet to finish our adventure.

We’re excited about reaching our destination in spring. I know we’re aiming to run east to Hull so the adventure doesn’t end. What is now clear, is that I am a runner. I have caught the bug, and, with the beautiful English countryside at my doorstep, come rain or shine, my passion for running and adventure has been emboldened.