Actor George Rainsford on his life as a runner

george rainsford london marathon
I'm a runner: George RainsfordJeff Spicer - Getty Images

After leaving school... I didn’t really do any exercise until I went to drama school.When we started doing our TV course there, I remember seeing myself on screen and thinking,‘Gosh, I’d better start going to the gym!’ I guess it was probably a vanity situation that first got me into running, even though I’d always enjoyed cross-country and athletics at school.

Once I began running outside... I was hooked. I signed up for some 10K races and in 2010 did my first marathon, in Berlin. My abiding memory of that race was the sound of cowbells from the crowd and, because it was so wet and rainy, barely looking up for the entire 26.2 miles.

I often struggle with cramp... if I ever want to go faster in a marathon. At the London Marathon last year, I was running alongside Harry Judd from McFly, but then my leg began cramping, so I told him to push on without me. I know that when this happens I need to slow down and take some salts and gels, before it eases. I did finish [in 3:19:44] and I’ve now completed the London Marathon five times.

One of my favourite events... was the Ridgeway Challenge. It’s a three-day, 86-mile event along an ancient route that cuts through the Chiltern Hills. I loved the camaraderie with other like-minded people as we ran. In the evening we camped and ate together – it was a brilliant experience and something I want to do more of.

This year, I'm touring... in a play and my plan is to explore the 25 places where we’re appearing. Although we will do two shows a day each Saturday, I’m intending to also do some parkrun tourism in the morning.

I don't mind getting lost... on a run. If it’s a run from home, I use the canal and the railway lines as my guide and do a bit of mapping in my head to workout where I am. But I did get lost on a 50km race once, which isn’t the sort of run where you want to add any extra distance.

When my family and I moved to Hertfordshire a few years ago, I discovered trail running. I now almost exclusively run on the trails and absolutely love being out there three or four times a week. As well as the scenery, I often spot deer or red kites, which are amazing to see in the wild but still only a few minutes from where we live.

In one episode of Casualty... I had to do a scene involving some running, so I guess all my training did finally come in handy. We filmed it at 2am, when it was quiet on the streets, and I got to keep all the cool running gear. We film the show in studios in Cardiff, so after a 12-hour day, it’s great to clear my head with a run.

It was through my character... in Casualty that I began running in support of Huntington’s disease. In the show, my character, Dr Ethan Hardy, has inherited the gene for the disease [which stops parts of the brain working properly] and to understand it better, I spoke with the charity. I heard powerful stories from families, so I now try to fundraise and raise awareness whenever I wear their vest.

The most spectacular place... I’ve run was when I did a tour in Mont Blanc last year. It was six days of amazing running in snow-capped mountains and through picturesque villages. We had a pro ultrarunner as our guide who showed us how to master running fast down steep slopes. He said to, basically, let yourself go and enjoy it as if you were a kid.

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