WSR Ambassadors

Denise Barnes

I’m from Poole, Dorset, and have been running for nine years. A spontaneous decision in 2012 saw me sign up to the 2013 Bournemouth Marathon with zero running experience and the outlook of, ‘How hard can it really be?’

Turns out, quite hard! And I never wanted to run again. It took a whole week for the Bournemouth Joggers Running Club, who I had joined in 2013, to convince me to sign up to another race and I haven’t stopped since! Fast forward to today and I’m a qualified LiRF and I’ve completed 22 half-marathons, 12 marathons, 1 ultramarathon and a few 10K to 10-mile races in between.

My favourite running adventure has to be my 24-hour Go Wild Gorilla Hunt, which involved running around Jersey at night to find model gorillas in October 2019, with Becca, my running buddy, some hi-vis, four Topic bars and a random Strava map sent to my Garmin F5 for support.

When it comes to organised races, you can’t beat a good WSR Frolic in the countryside. Here is where you will find all kinds of runners, including those who have never run off-road before or have recently completed a Couch to 5K course. It’s great to see them achieve what they didn’t think was possible. I hope as a LiRF and White Star Ambassador I can encourage more non-runners to put on their trainers and give it a go.

Shell Lawrence

I’m Shell, wife to Phil and mummy to Lily (5) and Cody (2). For a while that’s all I’ve been, but recently I put on my big girl pants and turned my passion in to a business and started Shell Lawrence Photography and so now my life is a big hectic mess.

I play football as well as run as much as I can, but so does the rest of the family, so my weekends are often spent racing around to several sporting events (usually with my camera in hand). Being a busy mummy often means I must run the kids to school/pre-school in the double running buggy so that I can get my runs in and hit my weekly run goals. I am a big girl and a slow runner, so although I feel like superwoman when I am running the two hilly miles to school and back again, don’t be fooled as I often have little old ladies overtaking me!

But honestly this is fine with me; in fact it is the WSR races that have helped me learn to be okay with this. There is never any pressure at a WSR event to run a PB, and actually miles are miles no matter how long it takes me. So, if me coming last makes someone else feel better because they haven’t come last then I’ll take that – I am all about encouraging others.

I’ve decided that this year is going to be my year, and I’m pulling up my big girl pants and going to run my first marathon. It’s not going to break records, it won’t be pretty and there will probably be a lot of tears, but my husband always tells me I am stupidly stubborn and very determined, so I will get it done!

Lewis Mutton

I’m a 30-year-old web developer from Poole. I’m engaged and have a two-year-old son called Ted.

I love to run to get outside. I spend five days a week sat in front of a computer working; running is my escape from the screen. I’m a Scout leader, I’m a reservist, I play darts, I eat and drink too much… So, let’s face it, I run to counteract the negative impact my other interests have on my health!

I was introduced to White Star Running through my first club Storm Plymouth in 2017. Since then, I have completed a total of 28 marathons (16 of which were White Star Running races) with the long-term goal of 100+. I’m a member of two awesome clubs: Lytchett Manor Striders and Bad Boy Running.

I love to set myself challenges:

In 2018 I ran 100 miles every month of the year

In 2019 I ran my first 50-mile race and completed my first double marathon weekend at the Invader

In 2020 I completed my first 100 miler (NDW100)

In 2021 I entered the Ox EpicERR – and won

In 2022… anything could happen?!

Simon Lynch (aka Lynchy)

I’m a reformed road runner and now trail evangelist! I started running in 1992, on the very day that Linford Christie won his 100 metres Gold in Barcelona. I decided to go out and run two miles, damn near died in the process, and the rest is history. I’ve completed 55 marathons or ultras, and in recent years have moved more to trail than road.

My first real foray into trail marathons was White Star Running’s Dorset Invader in 2018 – I couldn’t believe how much fun and madness was being had, and me and my partner Tracey immediately signed up for the East Farm Frolic later that year. We’ve entered almost every Frolic since then, and I’ve taken a liking to a strategy of Saturday slow Frolic followed by a Sunday blast over one of the shorter distances – nothing like an ego-boosting 13th place in a trail 10K (ish)!

My running highlights? Other than White Star, I have done the San Francisco Marathon a couple of times, where I had the privilege of meeting running royalty Dean Karnazes. If you can allow me to indulge and name drop, I’ve got the ear of Running Commentary on Twitter, and co-presenter Paul Tonkinson follows me there; I’ve very nearly got him to come down to Dorset and take part in a Frolic – this is my aim for this year! Even if I have to kidnap him and bring him down bound and gagged in the back of a transit van (I won’t do this… well, maybe not). I also run for Eastleigh Running Club and Bad Boy Running Club (#FYB).

Over the last couple of years running has been my mental anchor. As if Covid wasn’t bad enough, my brother had a serious stroke in September 2020, and since then I’ve been juggling my time between travelling to help him with his recovery in Coventry and travelling back to Southampton where I live, and in between getting some races in. Without the WSR weekends last year, which gave me some vital weekend releases from all of the stress in my life, I genuinely don’t know where I would be now.

Olivia Killen

I can’t believe that I was chosen to be an ambassador! I feel very honoured, and I am looking forward to telling the world how epic WSR races are.

I run because I love it, it is a huge part of me and because I am able too. I run to keep my mental health happy. Whether is road or trail, I don’t mind as both have their place… but trail races are way more fun. You can take your time, stop regularly to admire the views and walk the hills.

The running community makes up a big reason of why I love to run: my friends at Honiton Running Club, plus all the runners you get to chat with at races. I am a sucker for a great medal and WSR do the best bling.

I have run races of all distances from a mile fun run to a 50K ultra, and I have loved them all for different reasons. My true love lies with half-marathons and I became an entry-level member of the 100 Half Marathon Club UK in 2019. I hope to reach 100 halves in my 40th year so 2022/2023.

In the non-running part of my life, I live in East Devon where I am a Sports Therapist, a team member for Run Venture Running Hub Honiton Shop and a water fitness instructor. I am very lucky that I get to chat and blog about running daily.  In 2021 I discovered the joys and benefits of regular sea dipping and I am currently taking part in the Penguin Challenge. Which means I must dip in the sea, twice a month from November to March!

Catherine Midgley

Back in 2009 I had chest pains and the doctor said, ‘You are rather obese aren’t you?!’ – that hurt but worked! I couldn’t walk around the block without being out of breath and I’m very happy now with what I’ve achieved since – the latest achievement was completing my 250th parkrun on Christmas Day 2021!

So, back to WSR, my first event was the Invader Chaos race in July 2017, clambering through a Roman bath with no shoes on and running down a hill tied hand in hand with a complete stranger! Then I heard that runners run a marathon and camp! What a crazy bunch of people… before I found myself joining in with this craziness!

I ran my first accidental marathon (like you do!) at East Farm the next month! Then at the Ox Races in the following May I came away with an accidental ultra! I had so much fun on the Lovestation™ the following year at Dorchester Marathon where we all dressed up patriotically for the Royal Wedding! I highly recommend doing this; it’s good to give back what you may have received in a previous race. In August 2018 I ran my first double marathon, though this one was planned!

In May 2019 I did the Invader Marathon and then danced like a loon at the barn dance –nothing like a good recovery dance!! Then wonder why you’re walking like John Wayne in the morning… A few more races then Covid stopped play for me! So, I’m very much looking forward to seeing you all in 2022 for more fun, Frolics and fancy dress! Just a bit of what WSR is all about.

Kelly Henly

I’m a 40-something-year-old ‘afleete’ from the beautiful scenic town of Swindon. I live with my partner Alex and have four children. I’ve recently changed jobs, and am now a post person for Royal Mail, and I’m absolutely loving it.

I took up running 11 years ago after getting really bored of watching Jeremy Kyle every day while on the crosstrainer! I did my first WSR race in 2016 and never looked back – well, only to take in the beautiful views from them there Dorset hills!

Since then I’ve completed 46 marathons and a few ultras. My greatest running achievement was back in 2018 when I took part in Endure 24 as a solo runner, completed 85 miles and came in 7th place.

I’ve also been known to do a countdown or two on the White Star Running Facebook Group over the past few years, so watch out for me in there!

Mark West

I’ve been running for many years. I love everything about running, from the pre-race nerves to THAT feeling you get when you cross the finish line. I especially like the support you get from the running community. 

I run for the enjoyment, for my own mental health and wellbeing, and I run for my local club in Southampton. I take part in a variety of races from 5K up to ultra distances, road to cross country. I can be seen regularly at parkrun (both running and volunteering) and doing challenges such as ‘RED January’ or ‘Miles for Mind’. 

It’s on the trails that I am happiest. I live very close to the New Forest, so enjoy nothing more than sticking my trail shoes on and exploring. I experienced my first-ever White Star event in 2020 and the memory of Sheep Hill still lives with me (and in my quads)! I can’t wait to run in even more events in 2022!

Outside of running, I own a small accommodation business and work for a tech-led estate agent. I’m a very proud Londoner and have 3 step-children and 4 grandchildren!

Gina Penman Dearing

I’m 50 years young and currently live in Swindon. I’ve been here about eight years now, but was in RAF Lyneham for 15 years before that as my other half was based there in the Army. We met when we were both serving in Abingdon, but I left in 1996 after having my son.

I’d always ran because it was a given being Military, but I never liked it. I started to run to lose weight, but then got pregnant again – this was a BOGOF this time, so I defo needed to get out more and run! I realised I was enjoying it, so I trained for my first half-marathon. Unfortunately, I had a bicycle accident and broke my arm… I won’t go into all the years of hospital appointments, but let’s break it down to ‘they thought I had cancer, but I had two prolapsed discs, a cyst in my spine and MS’! Don’t do things by halves, me. So anyhoo, I was told never to run again, which I took notice of. The end. Said no female ever!

I did 5Ks, 10Ks and a few half-marathons with friends at my running club and decided to venture into marathons. I loved it so much I went for ultras. This is how I met fellow Cheerleader Kelly (she was at my run club); she heard I was doing this and asked to train with me and then introduced me to WSR. I love the fact I can bring family who are non-runners and they are made to feel part of it all.

Ellie Randall

I’m a Nursing Associate Practitioner, living in Fareham, while also studying to become a fully qualified Nurse. Never taking life too seriously.

I’m part of large running community called Run MND, all fighting to find a cure for MND.

My fiancé Simon, family and besties Jackie and Ruth are my biggest supporters in all aspects of life.

My running started as a one-off 10 mile run in 2013. Following the excitement and amount of support I received to help people effected by Motor Neurone Disease, I’ve not stopped running.

Although, I would describe my running as plodding. I’m not fast, I’m not as slow as ‘a Sloth in Nutella’, but I keep going. Running achievements include parkrun, 10K, 10 miles, half-marathons, marathons, ultramarathons, a 50 miler and I’m ‘training’ for a 100 miler in 2022.

WSR runs include getting third place at a Cider Frolic – maybe due to people going to the pub halfway through, but I’ll take that! Jurassic Ultra, Bovington, Invader, (DNF) Crafty Fox, Unicorn Frolic and others… you might have spotted me jumping anytime the camera is nearby!

Motor Neurone Disease is the drive behind all my running; I will keep plodding to find that cure.

Nicky Chrascina

I started running around 30 years ago when I passed a comment to my dad that running a marathon looked easy! He bet me I couldn’t do it and so the gauntlet was laid. I completed my 100th marathon/ultra at the Giants Head Marathon in 2019.

I love trail running despite not liking hills at all, which does make me wonder why I love WSR events so much! I have a weakness for Prosecco, cider and gin, so it’s probably the Lovestation™ that keeps me running rural. Much of my running is with Billy, my crazy vizsla, who can often be found at WSR events too.

I am known to say yes too easily and get roped into challenges that are way beyond what I should be doing. Saying that, I still managed to complete Marathon de Sables, Alps 2 Ocean and the tough Grand to Grand Ultra, and a couple of 100 milers.

I retired from the corporate world to work full-time on my funky activewear business, FLANCI, with my hubbie, Alfie.

James Mackinnley

I’m a 44-year old, dad of two, climber, OCR and trailrunner. I was born in London, but moved to the beautiful county of Dorset around aged 7 where I have been ever since. 

Currently residing in the hill-top town of Shaftesbury Dorset-shire (OX/Larmer territory).

I work for one of Dorset’s largest home improvements companies, where I have been for 22 years. Even though I’m small I used to play rugby as a hobby, which was all good until I started to get older and more brittle. I broke my leg, as well as ripping all the tendons in my shoulder, which was the end of that chapter. So, trying to keep fit, I went for a run with no idea what I was really doing…

My first ‘race’ and taste of WSR was at the Sydling Bell race (Giants Head) in 2019 with my partner Zoe and daughter. Let’s just say I will never forget that warm-up! The friendly atmosphere, aura and ethos was heart-warming, as well as the awesome bling – I was hooked! I joined a virtual running club (BBRC), and started to try and go out running consistently. Up next Cider Frolic! It was here I realised the hard way to run two days in a row; you have to train – my first DNF. 

Fast forward to 2021, I ran a lot of short distance runs for times really (I like to push myself), but I’m now looking at distance running. I managed my first marathon at Moreton, and then followed that with an accidental ultra at Cranborne Frolic, and a 50K ultra towards the end of the year.

For 2022, who knows! But I look forward to meeting new and old faces alike at an upcoming WSR event soon, and if you see me come say hello!

I’m from Poole, Dorset, and have been running for nine years. A spontaneous decision in 2012 saw me sign up to the 2013 Bournemouth Marathon with zero running experience and the outlook of, ‘How hard can it really be?’

Turns out, quite hard! And I never wanted to run again. It took a whole week for the Bournemouth Joggers Running Club, who I had joined in 2013, to convince me to sign up to another race and I haven’t stopped since! Fast forward to today and I’m a qualified LiRF and I’ve completed 22 half-marathons, 12 marathons, 1 ultramarathon and a few 10K to 10-mile races in between.

My favourite running adventure has to be my 24-hour Go Wild Gorilla Hunt, which involved running around Jersey at night to find model gorillas in October 2019, with Becca, my running buddy, some hi-vis, four Topic bars and a random Strava map sent to my Garmin F5 for support.

When it comes to organised races, you can’t beat a good WSR Frolic in the countryside. Here is where you will find all kinds of runners, including those who have never run off-road before or have recently completed a Couch to 5K course. It’s great to see them achieve what they didn’t think was possible. I hope as a LiRF and White Star Ambassador I can encourage more non-runners to put on their trainers and give it a go.