Running Groups In Cumbria
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LADIES OF THE FELLS
After taking up running in 2009, Jo Falconer was keen to get other women more involved in the activity. In 2012, she started her female-only group Fellside Ladies. She tells runABC North how the group has progressed since ...
“I decided to take a Run England course so I’d be better qualified to lead my own running group,” Jo explains. “It started out with three or four people and grew through word-of-mouth. As we’re from a rural area, news spreads quickly.”
The group now has around 55 members, meeting on Tuesdays in Kirkoswald, Penrith. There is a wide range of abilities within the group, from novice runners making the transition from walking to jogging, to those looking at tackling ultras.
Jo discusses her inclusive approach: “I didn’t want people thinking ‘I have to be a runner to join,’ so we used Run England’s 10-week beginner’s running plan to introduce novices to the activity. We’re not elitist and are very welcoming to those who’ve never run before. We have a good base of those who run with us regularly, whereas others only come occasionally. Some members like to get involved in the social side of things but aren’t as keen on running. Our most subscribed evening is actually Pie Night – which is held at our local pub. We definitely don’t want to exclude anyone.”
As well as running, the group is involved in a number of other fitness activities. “Being active is important to us so we take parts in all sorts of sports, including bike rides, walks and we use a swimming pool once a week too. We have an active Facebook group where most of our activities are organised. We also regularly take part in Penrith parkrun”
Being based in a rural area offers plenty of positives for runners but Jo admits it can sometimes leave you feeling isolated: “In winter there’s a temptation to just shut your door and never leave the house. That’s why having the group going is important as it gives us all an incentive to get outdoors and exercise together. Last year we had a Christmas Run where we all wore fairy lights. It’s a good way to keep your spirits high and was a lot of fun.
“Overall, the area is great for running. It’s very scenic and I think it benefits from being close to the Lake District but not actually in it. So it’s less busy and you can enjoy the more peaceful side of running. We’re also close to the Pennines, so have those as an option. We’re lucky to have a variety of terrain, and do both off-road and on-road running. If you want to go running up some hills, you can. If you want to go meandering down some windy, country roads, you also can!”
When asked about who the standout members of the group are, Jo is commendably diplomatic: “I think everyone is a standout member in their own way – I couldn’t single out one person. Everyone joins the group with different goals and they are able to achieve those through being part of Fellside Ladies.”
Article featured in runABC North September/October 2015