Friday, 15 July 2016

"Running clubs are a great hub of knowledge, fitness and ability"

A group of women are running with parachutes in a cold Reigate Priory Park, some customers, who are taking a hot coffe at Pavilion Cafe, start to smile. Are they trying to fly or simply are they crazy? These customers are watching live, a Simply Sports Running Club practice planned by Personal Trainer Steve Young (Mark Wren is the Simply Sports Oxted Running Club coach). Each Thursday they arrange to meet to run on road or off road, train and chat. Simply have a fun time. Samantha Chapman is a member of this lovely club and tell us her experiences. 

- How long have you been at Simply Sports Running Club?

I’ve been a member of Simply Sports Running Club for over 5 years.

- Why did you decide to be a member of a running club?

My youngest child was 2 and at nursery a couple of times a week. I was looking for something to help me get fit and stay fit, something I enjoyed. I went along to my local sports centre (Donyngs, Redhill) where they were holding a sports fair.  Simply Sports had a stand there along with a running machine and I put my name forward to join the running club.

- Did you run before?

I did run before, I used to run during my lunch hour at work (there were showers ;-).   However, life moved on, I had two children and running was put on the back burner for about 4 years.  

Simply Sports Running Club at the Survival of the Fittest;
Samantha Chapman (second from the left).

- Why is running so special?

I could give you a list as long as my arm. I love the flexibility of running. I can just put my trainers on, step out of my front door whatever the weather, at a time that suits me and go for a good run, whether it be  for 20 mins, 30 mins or an hour if I’m feeling brave.  Running keeps me fit and gets me out in the fresh air and provides great thinking space when running alone.  

You can run anywhere and I always take my trainers on holiday with me. It's a good way to explore new surroundings and find places you never new existed. Running has also guided me onto events I never thought I could achieve. I’ve gone onto complete 3 sprint Triathlons and various organised runs and events since being with the running club.

- Why do you recommend running in a club?

You can meet some really good friends through running. Running clubs are a great hub of knowledge, fitness and ability. A good club will cater to your needs whether your a beginner, intermediate or advanced runner, they will help you to improve your running, fitness levels and steer you away from injury.

- What is the atmosphere like at the Simply Sports club? 

I’ve met some really good friends through the running club. We meet up once a week on at Thursday morning at 9.30 am to run, train and chat. I’m sure our weekly meet keeps me sane. It’s a very fun and relaxed club, we are a very friendly bunch, often suggesting various races to enter which you can take or leave. We celebrate birthdays in local coffee shops and have a Christmas do too, it’s a very sociable group if you want it to be. Also it’s very good value at £50 per year.

The club has completed the Intersport Run Reigate.

- What do you think of Steve Young's style?

Steve's a professional personal trainer, he knows his stuff and you can only feel confident under his wing. He is very friendly and quite the joker at times, which leads to a fun hour on a Thursday morning. However, he is also professional, full of great tips and advise when needed and gives you the motivation to keep going.  

Steve is very considerate of each individuals needs weather it be their fitness level or a minor injury. If you’re a beginner or a little slow like me you will not get left behind, he will always get the front runners to loop back to join you.  

- Normally, where are the running sessions (on road, off road, exercises, hard-soft, funny, relaxing…)?

Steve has a different plan every week. We could be going for a long run on or off road depending on the weather and terrain or doing hill reps, training with parachutes or inner tubes of a bike wheel! He always has something different up his sleeve for us to try, it’s never boring. Our runs start off in Priory Park by the lake and take us all over the surrounding area. I’ve discovered  parts of the area that I wouldn’t have known existed through running with the running club.  

Running with parachutes at Reigate Priory Park.

- Your next challenge (race or another goal)

I recently ran the Brighton & Hove goGirl 5K run with some of the girls which was fun.  There’s the Summer 10k run in Reigate in July which I may push myself to do. I will definitely be running RunReigate 10k in September, I know some of the other members of the club will be joining me and others will do the Half Marathon that day too.  

- Your best memory in the club.

The best memory of the club was the day we did the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest back in 2012. It was a 10K run in Battersea which included various obstacles to get through or over, such as tall stacks of hay bails, ramps ending in pits of muddy water, crawling through ice pits, carrying sacks of sand around traffic cones in Battersea Power Station and then when we thought it was over there was the 10ft wall. We supported each other round, it was a real team effort. When we eventually came near to the end of the 10k course we were faced with the 10ft wall to climb over. We helped position a couple of us at the the top of the wall, who then helped pull the rest of us up and over along with a couple of other loan runners who were having trouble. Steve was the last of our team over and had to take a good run-up for us to reach him and pull him up and over.  It wasn’t a pretty sight I can tell you, but it was fun and we did it as a team, it felt good.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Oxted Running Club at the legendary Fan Dance

Last weekend a team of eight from the Oxted Running Club took on the legendary Fan Dance challenge in the Brecon Beacons. The Fan Dance is the route used by the UK Special Forces in their selection tests. It is a gruelling 15 mile course run in full kit and carrying 35lb packs. 

The Fan Dance climbs Pen y Fan twice, giving a total of 1100 metres of ascent, including the leg sapping ascent of Jacob’s ladder. The team has been training under the eye of Mark Wren since January, and it showed! 

Our Oxted Running Club in the Brecon Beacons.

Three finished with Special Forces “pass” times of under four hours and everyone else was close behind. 

We had the Women’s Overall Champion setting a new course record, 4th place in the Men’s Overall event, first place in the Men’s Masters category, first and second in the Women’s Masters and the fastest “back-to- back” time (running the route twice on successive days).

We also had the “coolest” competitor in the race, finishing well up the field, looking completely unruffled, despite having only taken up endurance training in January at the age of 55.

The team particularly enjoyed gathering together on the finish line to welcome home our 
competitors from the British Military Fitness team, some way behind!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

"Reigate Priory Park Run is just a friendly place to run as fast or as slow as you like"

More than 100 races, 3,432 runners, 78,595 kilometres and 304 days in total running are some of Reigate Priory Park Run figures, sponsored now by Intersport.

The first race came to Reigate on March 22, 2014 and two years later celebrated his 100th race with a Valentine's Day special. Each Saturday an average about 141.6 runners lace up their trainers and run 5km in this particular free race, entirely organised by volunteers to encourage regular exercise in the community. It is you against the clock.

The course, in Priory Park, is run on a mixture of gravel path, woodland trail and grass. 61 years old Paul Chandler has seen the growth of the Reigate Priory Park Run as a Run Director in these two years and tell us his experiences in this interview.

Why is the Reigate Priory Park Run different from other races?

Parkrun is not a race and there are no winners just a friendly place to run as fast or as slow as you like.

What is the profile of the Reigate Priory Park runner?

From young children to seventy year olds and from complete beginners to experienced runners.

Paul Chandler mending a path (Pict. taken from Reigate Priory Park Run)

Now your figures are (111 events, 3,432 runners, 219 clubs...) Have you got any special goal (in terms of numbers)? 

Our goal is to be available every week and that depends upon the volunteers.

How is the environment in this running community?

Judging by the greetings and smiles every week this is a happy friendly community.

Your post parkrun coffee are famous (Every week they grab a post parkrun coffee in the Pavilion Café).

We have an excellent café in the park with all sorts of drinks and eats.

How important is the role of the volunteers?

If there were no volunteers there would be no parkrun.

How do you describe the course?

Scenic and undulating, we run around the lake, uphill in the woods and downhill on the grass.

What do you recommend to take part in this event? (Clothing, training...)

In the summer when it is dry ordinary trainers, shorts and vest are best but in the winter when the ground is wet you need shoes with some grip and warmer running gear.

How is the development going for the Junior ParkRun?

We are still working on funding for junior parkrun. It will be a 2km event on a Sunday morning aimed at 4-14 year olds.

Any anecdote or funny story you remember.

What is most inspiring is the people who have never run before and maybe start with half walk / half run or half the distance but just keep coming back and improving.

Why do you recommend to register in the Priory Park Run Reigate?

Being outdoors and taking exercise is the most natural way to start the weekend. Doing it regularly has definite health and fitness benefits.

Which is your motivation to do this every Saturday?

I love running, I have made many new friends and I like to see them enjoying running.

Your best reward.

The expressions of achievement, reward and delight at the finishing line.