A MUM who discovered a passion for running after conquering serious illness is now encouraging others to follow in her footsteps.

Charlotte Mills, who struggled to climb stairs, has launched Winsford's very own running club, Rock Salt Runners after forming a committee this week.

She also revived the community run Winsford 10k last October after teaming up with runner Iain Borsbey and Compass Minerals to form event company Rock Salt Running, and runners raised £300 for St Luke's Hospice.

Winsford Guardian:

Runners raised £300 for St Luke's Hospice after completing the Winsford 10k Picture: Mick Hall

The 41-year-old was diagnosed with chronic sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease which causes swollen tissue to develop in the organs of the body, six years ago and gained eight stone after being put on steroids.

"I was overweight and arthritic and ended up with really low self esteem," said Charlotte, who has a 14-year-old son. "I struggled to walk up the stairs."

A school reunion three years ago prompted her to improve her fitness.

After taking up walking, Charlotte plucked up the courage to complete a free Couch to 5k programme in 2017 and hasn't looked back.

Winsford Guardian:

Charlotte Mills has completed several half marathons is encouraging others to discover her passion for running

"I had hit rock bottom and now I'm a fully fledged runner," said Charlotte, who is now in total remission from her illness. "I'm still overweight but I'm fitter and healthier than I've ever been. I run three times a week and cycle."

"I have gained so much out of running. It has made such a positive impact on my life. The friends I made in the beginning are still really good true friends now.

"It is hard as an adult in a transition phase of your life to make new friends. Perhaps your children have finished primary school and you've no longer got those mums in the playground or you may have moved to a new area."

Winsford Guardian:

Runners enjoyed taking part in the restored community run, the Winsford 10k Picture: Mick Hall

Rock Salt Runners emerged in November 2019 when a small group of people got together and has steadily grown.

A committee was formed on Monday evening and membership is now open.

"Our motto is 'no man left behind', our primary focus is to support, encourage and motivate everyone to achieve their goals," said Charlotte, from Cuddington, who used to live in Winsford. "We're quite excited about it."

A couch to 10k programme starts on Monday, January 13.

"You don't need to have any previous experience of running whatsoever," said Charlotte. "You'll be with experts all the time and build up gradually by jogging and walking. Anyone can do it. All you need is comfy trainers, a T-shirt and leggings.

"It is totally achievable. If you start next week you will be ready to run in our Winsford Spring 10k on May 17."

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Winsford Spring 10k will follow the same route as the Winsford 10k, in reverse, ending at the salt mine.

Rock Salt Runners offer runs to suit all abilities.

"We meet on Mondays and Wednesdays," said Charlotte."We don't discriminate so if you're just getting started and thinking about couch to 5k or if you're looking to take on the challenge of your first marathon or maybe qualify for masters selection we will be here for you.

"We are insured under by England Athletics under the Run Together scheme. Our club year runs from April to March but you can subscribe now and enjoy an additional three months free!"

For more details visit www.rocksaltrunning.com/club?