A PRIMARY school teacher swapped the classroom for Disney World where he stormed his way to a top 10 finish in a major half marathon.
Alan Piggford, 24, a teacher at Sacred Heart RC Primary School, in Hartlepool, enjoyed a two-week break in Florida recently, where he decided to lace up his trainers and take part in the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.
And the Hartlepool-athlete made quite an impression, crossing the line as the first non-American in 7th place with a time of 74 minutes and 26 seconds, which puts him 21st in the 2012 national rankings.
Alan, who lives in the West Park area of town, was a promising athlete in his teens when he made a number of national finals over 800 metres.
But when he started at Teesside University he put the sport on the back burner and focused on education.
After graduating with a 1st class honours degree in sports and exercise and a PGCE at Durham University he secured his first job and started competing again.
“I was really pleased with the half marathon,” he said.
“The atmosphere was excellent and it was incredible running through the Magic Kingdom Castle at Disney, it really was inspiring.
“My best events are 800 and 1500 metres so to run well over half-marathon is a bonus.”
Alan is now doing his best to encourage the future generations of town athletes.
He runs an athletics club at the primary school, in Hart Lane and his young athletes have already impressed.
The school won the town and catholic indoor athletics cluster events and earned the right to compete at the county championships.
Alan said: “We have some real talent at Sacred Heart, a lot of pupils are showing real potential.”
Alan is backing the Mail’s Race for Fitness campaign, aimed at encouraging town residents to improve their health in Olympic year.
“Fitness is a lifestyle thing which not only helps you now but is of huge benefit in the future,” he added.
“At Sacred Heart we really value sport and I tell the children if they work hard and never give up they will achieve and reach their potential.”
The Mail wants to hear from at least 2,012 people in Hartlepool and east Durham who are doing something to improve their fitness this year.
Whether it’s running a marathon, swimming or giving up smoking, get in touch.
Contact Chris Cordner by writing to him at New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX, via email to email@example.com or call him on (01429) 239377.