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Former athlete Angie Underdown to compete in Great East Run after recovering from heart attack

PUBLISHED: 20:00 20 September 2017

Angie Underdown on the track before she fell ill. Picture: TOM PHILIPS

Angie Underdown on the track before she fell ill. Picture: TOM PHILIPS

A former 400m runner from Suffolk who had to stop competing after suffering a heart attack has managed to get her health back on track and has the Great East Run in her sights.

Angie Underdown will be taking part in the Great East Run. Picture: GREAT EAST RUNAngie Underdown will be taking part in the Great East Run. Picture: GREAT EAST RUN

Angie Underdown, of Bury St Edmunds, competed at international level above the age of 40 but thought she would have to say goodbye to the sport forever when she fell ill in 2012.

The 51-year-old spent years in recovery and at her lowest point felt suicidal as she was not able to run, which had been her passion for so many years.

She said: “I use to compete at international level even in my mature years of 40 years plus.

“In November 2012 everything changed when I collapsed having suffered a heart attack.

“For months into years I could not run because of my recovery. I was devastated and my lowest point was having suicidal thoughts because I thought that running was the only thing I was good at.

“Without running I had nothing. I used to train every day and race at weekends then suddenly I was doing nothing.

“It was extremely hard for me and my mental health and I think my recovery was also affected.”

Three years after her heart attack, when Ms Underdown hit 50, she was given the green light by doctors and decided to lace up her running shoes again.

Ms Underdown started gentle and gradually built her up distance. She also became a volunteer at Needham Lake’s Great Run Local, where she used her experience to encourage and inspire people to take up and enjoy exercise.

This Sunday, Ms Underdown will compete in the inaugural Great East Run, which will take participants 13.1 miles through Ipswich and the surrounding areas.

She said: “To take on a half marathon in my home region will be truly special.”

Ms Underdown hopes that by completing the race she can set an example to others that you don’t need to be defined by an illness.

She added: “Emotionally, I would love to be that athlete again and I know that I may not 100% be there again but I think the competitor will always be in me.

“I am really looking forward to taking part in the event this weekend. At first it was hard to accept that I would never run the times I did but I have now learned to embrace running for it’s positive effect on me.”

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