When running enthusiast Toni Chaplin-Armer decided to start an after work running club for several of her co-workers, it was an ideal opportunity to put her coaching expertise to work and get more people in to running. Fast-forward six months and the University of Cumbria Road Runners now boasts a membership of over 50.
Since September, the club has registered with UK athletics and been given financial support from the University of Cumbria, allowing the club to grow and provide free coached running sessions for all who wish to attend. Club sessions run on Wednesday evenings, starting at 5:15pm at the University of Cumbria Sports Centre. Talks are ongoing about adding a second training session to keep up with demand.
The club’s growth has been assisted by University of Cumbria’s sport and fitness coach Luke Russell, who has been delighted with the progression: “As a coach, it is brilliant to see everyone at the club progressing and getting fitter from week to week. We have some runners who struggled to run a mile when they started and are now aiming to run marathons in the coming year.”
One member who has epitomised the strides made by the club is Katie Banks. Katie, 28, has committed to tackling Virgin London Marathon in April despite never running more than 5 miles previously.
The Wednesday session has become a key component of her training and Luke, who, has helped her with a structured training programme, is confident she will manage the 26.2 miles: “As this is Katie’s first marathon, we are looking to focus on her getting round the course in one piece rather than setting a goal time for her to reach.”