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Ray Harrison Memorial Race
Ann Johnson Trail Race
Coming Soon
Coming Soon

15th February 2015

The 7th Ann Johnson Absent Friends Trail Race

Absent Friends Background


Ann first started running in 1998. Her aim was to run the Great North Run later that year, which she did in 2hrs 33mins. She wanted to keep up her fitness and didn’t want to stop running, but wasn’t sure what to do. Joining Billingham Marsh House Harriers was suggested by another Ian Ramsey Mum. Ann joined in late 1998.

She went on to run the GNR a further six times. Her last on in 2004 in a time of 2hrs 14mins was with me. Rising entry fees and changed entry system meant that was Ann’s last GNR. Instead she thought she’d try a marathon and was lucky enough to be picked out of the club ‘hat’ for a club place in the 2006 London Marathon.

She surprised herself with running a time of 4hrs 8mins achieving ‘good for age’ status and guaranteeing a place in the 2007 London Marathon. In 2077 she ran 4hrs 13mins, again good for age, so an automatic entry for 2008.

Sadly she didn’t live to run it. One of the worst things she felt she had ever had to do was return her 2008 entry when she was diagnosed with leukaemia in Dec 2007. She died on 16th Feb 2008, of a chest infection caught because of her reduced immunity due to her illness.

Emma and I both ran the GNR in 2008 for charity in memory of Ann but I wanted something more.


Ann, similar to others, had always had problems keeping motivation going in the winter months, especially when you had something like the London Marathon looming. There weren’t many races about and Brass Monkey was difficult to get into even then. I had the idea of a memorial race and as she died in February when races were scarce, I suggested to the committee if they were prepared to organise it, I would sponsor it. The end result was the first Absent Friends on 15th Feb 2009, one year and a day after Ann died.

Although it’s called Absent Friends I hear people calling it the ‘Ann Johnson’ and I can’t think of a more fitting memorial.

So if you feel you need inspiration to keep running in the winter months, this is one race to do. The Mars bar at the end is a reminder that the end of a race was the only time that the ever weight conscious Ann felt justified in eating one.

Written by Barry Johnson

runbritain   UKA
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