My name is Martine Verweij. I am the founder of Raceways CIC, an events management company that delivers running races for adults, and a children’s charity called Kids Run Free, an organisation that delivers fun and sustainable running programmes for children in parks and schools across the UK.
I am originally from the Netherlands but have been living in the UK since 1997. I now live with my husband and two children in Alcester, Warwickshire.
My passion for sport and physical activity started at primary school. Letters and numbers didn’t come easily to me and I found sitting still very difficult – in fact I still do! I was always happiest in PE classes as this is where I felt free and able to reach my potential. Showing a competitive streak I quickly found my first love, hockey. By the age of ten I was playing in goal for the local hockey club and then progressed to playing for the ladies county hockey team. I was incredibly proud to be asked to play for the national team but I wanted to both continue my studies and travel so I declined this offer.
By my mid-twenties I discovered triathlon. In my first year I competed for the Netherlands, achieving 7th place in the 2005 World Long Distance Championships in Denmark. I then went on to compete for the UK in the Olympic Distance World Championships in Switzerland the following year.
Alongside triathlon I was also competing in mountain bike stage races in Europe and Africa, finishing 13th in editions of the Transalp race and the Cape Epic race in 2007.
Staying with the bike I moved onto Cycle Cross in my thirties, finishing in the top 10 at the National Cyclocross championship in the elite race in 2009, and more recently gaining a silver medal in the National championship in the women’s over 40’s race.
Now in my forties I enjoy cycling and running on pretty much a daily basis – I find both activities great ways to clear my head. Also, after a twenty-year break I have started playing hockey again with a local team.
For me, sport and physical activity are everything. It is what makes me live, gives me release when I need it, and helps me to concentrate. I want all children to have the opportunity to experience these feelings too. This is why Kids Run Free came to be.
In 2006 myself and lifelong friend, Catherine O’Carroll were delivering our first ever Raceways event in Warwickshire. We had about 500 participants and we could not be happier, but as the event went on we saw children strapped into pushchairs watching from the side-lines. Something didn’t feel right about this. There and then we vowed to do something about it – and Kids Run Free was born!
We launched our first ever Kids Run Free regular running event in 2011 at Bentley Heath Park in Solihull, Warwickshire. This has led to further locations across the Midlands and in the south of the country and a schools running programme called Marathon Kids which runs in Primary schools across the entire UK.
I hope you enjoy looking through my website and seeing the other challenges I am embarking on.
For more information about Kids Run Free and the amazing work we do please click here.