There is a mystical place, where age, size and times do not matter. As long as you want to get fitter and make friends, you can become a member. A pair of trainers and a sense of humour are the only membership requirements

We have all heard of the Couch 2 5k  programme and for many it has been the catalyst to continuing health and fitness with many graduates going on to join local running clubs.

However, there was a bit of ‘gap’ in the clubs available in one area of Lancashire. The gap between beginners and intermediates. The gap was for those who were never going to be pushing for times, but wanted to continue what they started on C25K. They loved running, but didn’t feel fast enough for other clubs in the area. They wanted to dip in and out, and still enjoy the company of their new friends.

So here comes Neil……

Neil is a sound bloke. He doesn’t profess to be an athlete and he believes there is enough room for many different types of running clubs. He just happens to run one that was made for those in ‘the gap’. Neil’s group received a Chorley Council Award in 2019 for Services to Under Represented Groups. An accolade richly deserved given the amount of time and dedication required to make it work.

“I love supporting the less confident runners who wanted to give up because ‘they’re too slow’ or ‘not fast enough to keep up’, I have brought in new way of thinking and now they believe in themselves”

Many of the groups runners are capable of great distances, with members achieving both half and full marathons, but they still continue to attend Runfit, nuturing the friendships and passing on nuggets of advice. It is clear that the inclusion policy has formed bonds that ability cannot transcend.

They support each other at races, approaching events like a get together, with some exercise thrown in. There is an element of fun here which would be in no doubt after a few minutes in their facebook group. Many events are tackled in fancy dress , because even camaraderie can get dressed up. Meet up’s are often followed with some grub and a pint.

Neil is also fully aware of how much exercise can improve mental health as well as physical health. Completing a course to become a qualified Mental Health First Aider back in February, after Paul- another member of the group, passed in 2019. Not only did Paul complete this course, he also became a Guide Runner for the visually impaired. There are also Mental Health Champions in the group, whom all members can approach for a confidential chat. One of the those Mental Health Champion’s is Lucy, Neil’s Wife, Lucy brings another dimension to the inclusivity at the club. Lucy is their British Sign Language Interpretor.

It is obvious that this is far more to the members than getting a bit sweaty. There is a real sense of community spirit and lots of love and support.

During lockdown, the ‘in it together’ ethos has seen virtual team challenges, and the supporting of members on their lone runs. They are still finding ways to continue to nourish and encourage each other. And yes, they get a bit competitive. It’s all clean fun.

It won’t be long before small groups are permitted to run together again. Lots of people completed C25K on their own in Lockdown, and now need a place to go. Join the facebook group Runfit Chorley  and get to know the lovely folk in there.

‘Nobody gets left behind’, is a policy underpinning many of the greatest moments in history. In a Lancashire market town of Chorley, it is written into every step the whole group takes. And all it takes, is that first step.

Run Fit- Running to be Together#

If you want to comment about the group- or have any questions for Neil- just pop a comment below.