Running Clubs In Cumbria

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DOWNHILL IN KESWICK

Keswick AC

With over 40 years of running over the fells and roads of Cumbria (and beyond), Keswick AC is one of the county’s most decorated clubs. We speak to club secretary Sam Stead about the how the club remains competitive whilst still being beginner-friendly.

Tell me about Keswick AC

Keswick Amateur Athletic Club, (the ‘Amateur’ was dropped in 2003) was formally founded in 1972 at a meeting in The Dog and Gun pub. The legendary Ron Hill was invited to be club president by member Dave Ellison, and kindly accepted. It’s thought that our club colours of yellow and green were chosen to match the colour of the fells. The club has continued to grow over the years and many of the legends of fell running have been members. Although the main core of the club’s membership comes from Keswick and surrounding area, there are also members from throughout the UK and around the world.

How many members are there?

We have around 200 members. In terms of age, our youngest member is just three and a half! Our oldest members are in their late 70s. It’s quite a diverse club. Keswick is a very fitness-orientated town, so everyone here is active in some capacity. You don’t see any fat people!

Where and when do you meet up?

We have core sessions on a Tuesday but have recently expanded our programme to offer more throughout the week. We now offer midday sessions, which have proved very popular, particularly with our older members, but are not specifically aimed at any demographic.

What sort of distances do you do?

During winter we usually run within the town but in the lighter months we branch out and go further afield. We go out to various hills such as Latrigg, Skiddaw and Jenkin Hill. Jenkin Hill is notoriously difficult as it features a 40% incline, so we only do it occasionally. Local legend has it that Kenny Stuart ran the fastest ever mile whilst descending it in the 1983 Skiddaw Fell Race. There are so many great fells in the area, so we do a lot of summer fell runs and like to explore different areas. We’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to scenery; it’s basically a natural playground for running!

Do you organise your own events?

Yes! We have a central committee with individual race organisers taking charge of various events. Our two road races are Derwentwater 10 on 10 November, and Round the Houses in April. Derwentwater 10 is a 10-mile race now in its 56th year. We have too many fell races to mention them all. Latrigg Fell Race, the sister fell to Skiddaw, is also well liked. Our Round Latrigg race is a bit less gruelling. It’s a category B trail race and has been described as a ‘trail race on steroids’.

Do you take part in events outside Keswick?

We run all over the country - the FRA championships is something we compete in and win regularly. We also go to events in the Isle of Man and Ireland. We’re one of the few clubs who enter both the fell running and road running championships.

Is there a strong social element to the club?

Yes, definitely. We have an active Facebook group where we arrange a lot of social gatherings. Most people here work in the tourism trade, so we’re never short on ideas of things to do. We often have social runs and go to the pub afterwards. You can also join the club as a social member where you don’t have to run.

What would you say to someone thinking of joining?

We’re a competitive club but a friendly one. I think sometimes people get the wrong impression and think we’re really serious – we’re not. Having said that, it’s a great club to join if you want to improve your running form. I’m a perfect example – I came to club as someone who wasn’t much good but have progressed quickly as a result of being a member.

 

Interview featured in runABC North September/October 2015 edition