With the easing of rules controlling the latest lockdown, Biddulph Running Club has slowly started to return to a bit of normality. Still following government guidelines and strictly adhering to the protocol advised by England Athletics the club is now offering its usual group runs on a Tuesday and Thursday evening.
Club members (new and old) have gradually been returning to the club and many are now enjoying the club summer routes which include a bit of off-road running in and around the fields and footpaths of Biddulph, Biddulph Park and beyond.
Looking ahead to the rest of the summer - the race calendar is starting to fill up and members have been planning for the months ahead putting their entries in to try and make up for last year's dearth of events.
During lockdown, however, members have had to find other ways to keep their motivation going and several race organisers have encouraged runners to participate in virtual runs - with medals and tee shirts available as an additional temptation.
In January and February Dawn McGovern completed the virtual Kidsgrove 10k (having to contend with icy conditions) and the Alsager 5mile race. She was delighted to knock 4 minutes off her previous time and is now looking forward to doing the proper route again next year. Karen Wynn also did the virtual Alsager 5 and completed this in a good time of 49:40. Karen's running has been improving steadily and this year she has set herself a goal - to run 1000 miles in 2021. Good luck Karen!
Mark Parker achieved a personal best time when he did the virtual Manchester City Blue Run around the Biddulph area. He earned himself a medal and a tee shirt and the proceeds of the race went to a very good cause - their community project to support mental wellbeing in people aged 14 - 25.
To celebrate Katie Trace's birthday, husband James secretly entered them both into a virtual Day of the Dead race as she was celebrating her day Mexican style. They both ran a 10k route and can be seen (pictured) proudly sporting their designer Day of the Dead medals!
Tracy Shufflebottom completed her virtual Lakeland Trails race early this year and so started the season with a brand new tee shirt! Competitors were able to choose their preferred distance - 250k or 152k and they had six weeks in which to complete it. The organisers kept participants connected by uploading their progress to a map showing all the usual Lake District routes so they could see each other's progression day by day.
Tracy, along with several other Biddulph Running Club members will be travelling to the lakes next week to take part in Coniston Marathon. For some this will be their first ever marathon and for others their first off road marathon. The new marathon runners have benefitted greatly from the experience of other club members who for the last few months have been organising training runs and have provided help and support throughout.
Biddulph Running Club is always happy to welcome new members. Hannah Findlay decided to join the club during lockdown having completed a couch to 5k online course on her own. Her running has gone from strength to strength and she recently completed a 10 mile (very muddy) off road run!
Hannah has written about her experience of joining Biddulph Running Club and is keen to encourage others to take the same step. The club is open to all and Hannah promises "I will be there with you at the back every Tuesday as will many others. It doesn't matter if you run, jog, walk or skip to get back - it's all about getting out there and socialising again".
Biddulph Running Club hopes to offer its "New-to-Running" course this September. For details please contact the club
In normal times Biddulph Running Club holds its annual Christmas Party and Awards Ceremony around the first weekend in January. This year things are very different. The party cannot possibly take place due to the pandemic and there have been very few races that went ahead so the Club Championship awards (based on points collected in a range of races during the year) has been cancelled for 2020.
There is one award however that still applies and this is the Chair-Persons award. Biddulph Running Club's chair-lady Tracy Shufflebottom put a lot of thought into who deserved this award. Tracy felt that the award should go to the person who has made the most improvement over the year. This year has been very difficult for everyone and it has been hard to keep the motivation going especially when you are new to the sport and suddenly find yourself having to run alone a lot of the time.
Tracy had this to say.
"2020 began with much promise as each year does but despite the challenges I am immensely proud of the achievements of all members of Biddulph Running Club both running and the efforts of the committee in keeping us together even virtually.
I look forward, like everyone else, to the day when we can gather and train together in unlimited numbers. But until then we will continue to celebrate being part of something good.
This year's Chairman's award has, as always, rewarded a club member whose story chronicles someone who has shone in the journey of running but who is not always the first past the post.
While we cannot award the championship trophies for the races on the list, I can delight in giving the chair's award to Mark Payne."
Mark Payne joined Biddulph Running Club's "New to Running" course in 2019 and has gone from strength to strength. Like others he had made plans for 2020 to enter races and to improve his distance and times. He ran his first 5 mile race at Alsager at the beginning of the year but the subsequent lockdowns soon put a finish to his racing.
Undeterred he joined in some of the challenges arranged by the club including the Lockdown Bingo Challenge and also completed several virtual races. He has added trail running to his list of achievements and even though he sustained an injury that kept him out of running for a good couple of months, he returned even stronger and managed to realise his target running over 550 miles in 2020.
Two special "recognition" Chair-Persons awards were given out this year and these went to Katie Trace and Simon Hodgkiss. Katie and Simon both gave up a lot of their time and put a lot of effort into arranging challenges for club members to take on during lockdown. They included "Race around the World", "Lockdown Bingo", "Thunder Run 12hr Team Challenge" and various on and off-road pairs and team group runs (socially distanced and when allowed) both locally and in the Peak district and Derbyshire Dales.
Well done Mark Payne, Katie Trace and Simon Hodgkiss.
Watch the chair-person's speech here note - this is a large video and may take some time to load.
For older news items click here