Chris Illsley

Growing up in the south of the county at Deeping St James and after a short spell in the RAF as an Air Cartographer, Chris studied PE at Sunderland Polytechnic.


He came to Lincoln in 1979 to take up his first teaching position as a Physical Education teacher at the then named South Park High School (now The Priory LSST) and has lived here ever since.


A keen runner Chris ran in the very first London Marathon and has a modest best time of 2 hrs 38 minutes something which he is very proud of. In his spare time during the early 80’s he used to organise running events on a professional basis which not only became his first venture into running a business but was the beginning of an illustrious period as a commentator where he went on to commentate at the Great North Run, the London Marathon and the World Athletics Championships in Seville.


In 1986 he was seconded to BBC Radio Lincolnshire where he worked as an Education Producer. There he worked alongside some great luminaries; Chris Jones, Ed Lacey, Les Sheehan, Jane Peel and a certain John Inverdale who was cutting his teeth as a presenter at the time – whatever happened to him! During his spell with the BBC he recorded several ‘In Conversation’ programmes including one with Steve Cram who was the Mile World Record holder at the time.

In 1988 after a spell in Leisure Management, Chris decided to take the plunge into running a business full time, and set up Running Imp, a company that Race Organisers’ could call on to purchase everything that they required to stage their event from under one roof, effectively a one-stop-shop.

Originally working from home Running Imp celebrated its 26th anniversary in February 2014 and currently employs 42 full time staff with a multi-million pound turnover.

In 2013 they were awarded The Lincoln Civic Award the top honour of the City and won the Large Business of the Year at the Lincolnshire Media Business Awards.


With 4 grown up children and the eldest following in his footsteps at Running Imp, Chris’s spare time is now taken up with walking, listening to music and Rotary. A member of the Rotary Club of Lincoln Colonia Chris was responsible for organising the ever popular Lincoln Santa Fun Run until 201 during which time it has raised almost £200,000! It was whilst being interviewed about the annual festive fundraiser that Malcolm Thompson suggested to Chris that he might make a good presenter – time will tell!

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