It’s an early December evening. It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s raining. So why is there a small group of runners circling Victoria Park? This is the Gateway Running Group; some in coats, some wearing gloves, some out ahead and some at a slightly slower pace. Just 10 weeks ago, this group of runners could just manage the 2 minute runs (followed by 2 minutes of walking) which Alex and Jay Allen had planned for the first week’s training. Tonight, we run for 15 minutes without stopping; we’ll take a walking break, then run again for 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter that it’s raining and cold, or that our legs are beginning to ache; we are just one more practice run away from our goal: the Saturday 5K Park Run on 15th December. There are shouts of encouragement from Alex to those who are finding tonight hard - but she is not letting on how many minutes more we need to run for - we need to keep going!
It’s a diverse group - from absolute beginners, to those with a few miles under their belts; from youth through to mums and dads.
It all began when Alex prayed a simple prayer (whilst running!) at Newday this year: “God, show me how I can get more involved at Gateway”.
On her return to camp, Alex was asked if she would think about starting a running group for beginners!
So why have we stuck it out? Abi and Rachel have been amazed by how quickly they’ve improved over the weeks - and we all know that we would never have done this alone. It’s not just about the running though - the group has a real family feel; we enjoy one another’s victories, celebrating each other’s ‘homework’ runs on the Whatsapp group. We chat as we run and get to know one another. We find we are capable of more than we thought. We put running items on our Christmas lists. We are a bit different to how we started out. That’s success.
- Debbie Turnbull