On the 17th July 2012, the Ely Runners Beginners’ course began. It all started due to a realisation that, the club had (and still has) some serious and very talented runners, but there seemed to be a gap in terms of attracting and retaining those new to running. The club sent three members to complete their Leader in Running Fitness course, and they planned and put together the first 10-week beginners programme.
Before the first course, Lionel Smith and Steve Tovey spoke with Haverhill Running Club, and it was agreed that they would visit Haverhill to do a little research. Haverhill was doing a hills session that evening, which Lionel and Steve observed, as well as asking plenty of questions.
The thinking back in 2012 was to advertise, but not too much, for fear of being inundated with eager beginners. Initially it looked as though 25 people would turn up, because that’s how many were registered; but on the night, a good 50 rocked up at The Paradise Centre! The course back then was no different to how it is now in that all kinds of people registered for the programme. The people on the 2012 were of all shapes, sizes, ages and levels of experience, with most having never ran before. That first course went really well, with plenty of happy faces leaving the session!
The course continued from there, with it being repeated, usually more than once a year. New sessions were introduced and the course was tweaked as it progressed. Lionel co-ordinated and led the course for a good few years, with Charlotte taking over after a while.
More recently, Justin took over the co-ordination and leadership of the course. With the sound base set up by Lionel, and carried on by Charlotte, it has not been too difficult to develop aspects of the course: mainly around marketing and administration. The course as it stands has two Coaches in Running Fitness, a Coaching Assistant and a group of Leaders in Running Fitness. The programme still attracts a good 50 beginners each time it is repeated, and the retention rate seems to be on the up, with many graduates from the course now joining the club.
Dedicated coaches and a consultative approach around how things work, as well as that early work by Lionel and Charlotte has resulted in a course that we can be proud of as a club! Most importantly though, we are supporting many people in Ely and the surrounding area to be introduced to running in a warm, friendly and non-threatening environment.