I’m Richard Hayes a 35 year old runner based in Sheffield. I’ve gone from 20st to a sub 5 min mile runner. Raised over £1.3 million for charity. Known as the “Mohican Runner”, due to my distinctive hair style. My day job is working for LEGO, I started out as part of the LEGO.com core team, before moving to become a digital planner and to a set designer. I’m now part of the events team that design and build large scale builds for events worldwide and I’m a massive lover of coffee
I started running in September 2012. I took up running to help with my weight loss goals. At the start of 2012 I tipped the scales at 20 stone. I then spent 4 months with a personal trainer and dropped 4 stone between April and August. The first race I signed up for was the Great Yorkshire run in my home town of Sheffield. During that race something clicked and I found I loved running and my running career took off from there, doing a further two other road races in 2012.
2013 & the 13 in Thirteen challenge
After doing my 3 races back in 2012, I then came up with the charity challenge 13 in Thirteen where I would complete 13 x 10km races in 2013 and set a new PB at each. The reason for this challenge was to raise money for Childline/NSPCC, as I used the childline service as a child. You can read about the challenge by clicking here.
In 2013 my running improved and my times tumbled as I managed to complete the challenge at the start of December at the Percy Pud. During 2013 I joined Sheffield Running Club, through them I managed to take my leader in running fitness course as well as learn more about different types of races and distances. Over the course of 2013 I raced 40+ times over various distances from 1 mile up to half marathon distance. By the end of 2013, I had a 5:54 1 mile PB, a 20:19 5km/parkrun PB, a 41:38 10km and a 1:41:42 half marathon PB.
2014 & the 13 in Thirteen HM challenge
In 2014 I began my 2nd challenge this time the aim was to complete 1 half marathon a month over 13 months starting in January 2014, the aim was also to break sub 90 for the half marathon (I achieved this back in October 2014). You can read about the second challenge by clicking here.
Also I switched running clubs to Steel City Striders at the start of 2014 and discovered running isn’t about running as hard as possible every time you put on a pair of trainers.
My weakness is my fondness for racing and being told I race too much, if you include parkruns I raced every week in 2014. My goals when I started running was to break 20 minutes for 5km, sub 40 for 10km and sub 90 for half marathon, I managed to achieve all 3 in 2014 and finished the year with the following personal best times; 5:29 1 mile, 18:38 5km/parkrun, 33:25 5 mile, 37:47 10km, 69:55 10 mile and a 1:26:03 half marathon.
2015, debut marathon & Road Warrior challenge
In 2015 I completed my 2nd charity challenge at the Brass Monkey HM Jan 2015 lowering my HM time down to 83:17. By the end of my 2nd challenge I had raised over £1.3 million for charity. I then switched my focus to making my marathon debut at London, this made up one of my goals for 2015, along with the goals to break 18 minutes at 5k, sub 37 for 10k and sub 83 at half marathon. In early 2015 I made the decision to switch to Hallamshire Harriers so I could take my running further and to do some track and field events, however this turned out to be a decision I regretted. In April 2015 I made my marathon debut at London where I posted a respectable time of 3:08:24.
For the 2nd part of 2015 I started my third and final charity challenge this time for the Sheffield Children’s Hospital. This challenge saw me racing every week for 26 weeks straight. You can read about this challenge by clicking here.
During the summer I lowered my personal bests at 5k, 10k and 10 mile. In November 2015, I won my first race at the Power Surge 10k near Retford, also setting a course record at the same time, the previous week I got my first podium by finishing 3rd at the Holmfirth 10k. I won a second race in December by winning the Barnsley Hospice Santa Dash to round off a very successful year.
2016, no more challenges, more focus
The start of 2016, I took the hard decision to stop and re-evaluate my running. Instead of focusing on challenges, I decided to focus on lowering my times and train almost full time. The goal now is to see how far I can take my running career. My first goals for 2016 was to break 18 minutes at parkrun, sub 36 at 10km and sub 80 at half marathon. By May I had completed all 3 goals, I then switched to building up my endurance with aim of doing an autumn marathon till a rib injury in June put me out for the first time in my running career.
With work meaning I was more London based I joined Belgrave Harriers but it also happened at same time as my rib injury, which meant I never got chance to race for them, except in a handful of appearances. The summer was a write-off due to injury then illness and it wasn’t until September that managed to get back into a regular pattern again. I also managed to transfer roles at work meaning I was no longer required down in London. Thus I made decision to finally join my local club Penistone Footpath Runners and AC.
At first this was as a 2nd claim member but one I had sorted my job, I made the swap to 1st claim. The change also so an upturn in my own running fortunes with a new personal best at the mile and my first ever 3000m track race. From September things started to improve. A new focus in training, with more easy running instead of good all out day in day out and increase in mileage, started to show results. During the autumn I set a new PB at mile, 3000m, 5k, 5 miles and 10 miles. After my first bad patch during the summer, it was good to end 2016 with even more new PB’s as well as race victories at the Holmfirth 10k and Sneyd Striders Pudding Race.
The Mohican Runner goes & returns
Between 2013 and 2016 I was known as the Mohican Runner. Throughout my challenges I needed/wanted to stand out from the crowd, I was never a big fan of fancy dress but wearing a green vest for the NSPCC just wasn’t enough to get me noticed during my early challenges. Just after Christmas 2013 I decided to re-grow my hair with a mohican, it was small at first but it soon grew. My wife was my hair stylist and we have tried many methods over the years to get it to where we wanted it. I tried to go green but it just wasn’t for me so we opted for black and at each race I was not only getting noticed for my awesome hair but people were really interested in my charity challenge, which for me is excellent. Yes I get lots of funny looks, children pointing at me in the street, adults almost walking into lampposts but most importantly media attention.
The mohican finally came off in the autumn of 2016 for two reasons, firstly as I’ve gotten older my hairline has started to recede and as such the mohican was getting thinner and thinner on top as well as going further back. Secondly while I still had the mohican, it was still assumed I only did running for charity and wasn’t taken seriously as an athlete and runner.
As the winter drew to a close I started to re-grow my hair, first has a mohawk then slowly back into my mohican, even after shaving it off people still called me the Mohican Runner and my family hated me shaving it off, it became my trademark and while at the time I felt it was the right move, I felt naked without it, hopefully by the summer it will be back to it’s full size.
2017 my 5 year anniversary
9th Feb 2017 was my 4 year anniversary since starting my journey from 20 stone to the athlete I am today. The year started with a bang with 5 races in January, resulting in one win, two second places and 4 new personal bests. I lowered my half marathon time down to 77:26 and broke 10 minutes for 3000m.
So far 2017 has had it’s ups and downs. After a good start to the year with PB’s at HM, 3000m and at 30k, I then had a poor race at Trafford 10k, a DNF at Manchester marathon and then struggled home a few weeks later to 3:07:11 at the Boston (UK) marathon. Since doing the marathon, I’ve lost a bit of my top end speed and switched my focus back to short distances with aim to rediscover my faster middle distance pace. April/May of 2017 has seen me race on the track at 3 new distances 800m, 1500m and 5000m. But my love is still the road and that where my focus lies.
As what seems to be the norm, my form dips in the summer, despite posting some of my best sessions on the track in training, the weather and other factors have meant so far spring/summer 2017 has yet to bore any fruits in terms of chasing times at either 5k or 10k. However on 21st June I set my fastest ever mile at the Manchester Mile, with 6s standing between me at that official sub 5 minute mile. The following day I took part in my first vets race at the Yorkshire Vets 5k Championship, in terms of time it was poor but I did place 1st to win gold in my age category. I followed this up with victory in my age group at the Northern Masters AC 5k Multi-Terrain Championship on the 2nd July.
Picture below is comparison of 5 years ago and now (2017)