Manchester Half Hero – Chelsea Houghton

Our next Manchester Half hero is Chelsea Houghton from Runcorn, Cheshire. Chelsea has taken up running despite her struggles with a melanoma diagnosis in 2020 and is now inspiring others to do the same.

Have you previously been a runner or are you new to running?

“I am relatively new to running, I have dabbled in running, attempting the couch to 5k programme a few times over the years but I’ve always allowed life to get in the way and found many excuses not to complete the programme. But when I was much younger I set myself the goal of running a marathon… and I’m finally working on that goal.”

What is your personal reason for you tackling the 13.1 mile challenge?

“I have so many reasons for tackling the half marathon. I want to prove to myself just what I’m capable of. I want to show people that cancer isn’t the life limiting diagnosis that it often feels like. I’m running in memory of my father-in-law who passed away in March after a heroic battle with an aggressive cancerous brain tumour. He used to run when he was much younger, and I know he will be with me every mile I tackle of the half marathon! “

Why did you decide to enter the Manchester Half?

“In June 2020, mid covid lockdown, I was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma. After surgery and commencing treatment, my mental health plummeted. The side effects of the treatment felt relentless and in April 2021 my mental health hit rock bottom. I lived in fear of dying and felt completely out of control of my emotions. That’s where running came in, I knew it would make me feel better emotionally so I started the couch to 5k programme and actually finished it! I haven’t looked back since. It was a very slow process whilst going through treatment but in December last year I signed up to a 10k run and gradually built my distance up. After completing the 10k and achieving a pb, I had the bug and decided to look into the half marathon to help with my ultimate goal of running a marathon. I watched videos of the Manchester Half, and the atmosphere looks insane, the reviews were brilliant, so I took the plunge and signed up.”

What does running mean to you?

“Running has been my escape, my coping mechanism to deal with the challenges life throws my way. My proof that I can do what I set my mind to. And a vitamin specifically for my mental health. Whilst I was going through treatment, one of the main side effects was severe fatigue and my oncologist told me that exercise would help with that, and despite being very dubious, she was right, and it really helped. And even now I’ve finished treatment, fatigue is an ongoing side effect but one that doesn’t stop me because no matter how exhausted I am, a run always makes me feel better.”

What does the term hero mean to you?

“For me a hero is someone who goes about their daily life making a positive impact on those around them unintentionally – just by being the good person that they are.”

Who is your personal hero?

“My husband. He doesn’t know just how amazing he is. He’s done everything possible to make my life easier after my diagnosis and treatment. I finished my treatment in August 2021 and his dad was then diagnosed with an aggressive cancerous brain tumour in October 2021. So, despite not catching a break, he has, and continues to be, the absolute pillar of our family. His dad lost his battle with cancer in March this year and I know for a fact that his dad would be so proud of him. He doesn’t realise just how strong he is. He completely knocks spots off the likes of superman, iron-man, spider man and Thor.”

What do your friends and family think of you doing this challenge? Have you got anyone coming down to support you on the day?

“They think I’m crazy, in a good way! And are so supportive of me. My nearest and dearest will be there to watch me cross the finish line in October.”

What does your training plan look like?

“I’m following a free training plan that I found online and hoping for the best!! I didn’t want to spend lots of money on a training plan and it’s working so far! I have recently joined a gym and doing 2 weights-based classes each week to complement my running.”  

What are you most looking forward to on the day?

“Crossing the finish line, it will definitely be an emotional one but crossing that finish line in October will be another step forward in the mental recovery of the challenges that I’ve faced in the last two years.”