From Cycle Yorkshire To Run Leeds
A pillar of the running community in Leeds. Hilary Wharam regular comes top of her age categories in races and exuberates a real infectious passion for running. Whether you’re a runner or leader, her story below is bound provoke some nods of appreciation.
Here I am, a granny, 74 yrs. of age, still running and racing. The fellowship of running supports me through sad times, it’s a good life!
I am at peak fitness and leader of a cycle club section, riding out every Sunday accompanied by my husband.
Together we enjoy weekly long distance rides and cycle touring holidays at home and abroad.
Then my husband’s knees packed up.
What to do to keep my fitness?
“Come on D, let’s go running”. D comes.
We run/walk a ¾ mile hilly circuit and are smashed!
We run together every Tuesday evening for two years and are able to do 6 miles without stopping. We have explored all our local footpaths.
“Come on D, let’s do a race”
We run Horsforth 10k, over Bayton Lane, up Harrogate road – no tunnel then – Scotland Lane and finish at Trinity College, holding hands as we cross the line.
The following Tuesday evening-
You ran on Sunday, I’ve brought your prize”
“WOW 1ST F50”
“Go to Pudsey 10k, you might do well there”
I do and I do, 1st F50 again.
Nothing like reward, totally hooked on running.
1994 STEPPING UP
“We should join a club D”
“We’ll join Horsforth Harriers”
So we did.
We could just about do 10 min/mile and are well off the back of the “slow” group all evening, they are kind and wait.
Then D’s knees and ankles fall apart, sadly, she has to stop running.
1997 FIRST MARATHON
I go on all the race trips with the club and, independently, run several more. I have reasonable success in my age category and find I am better at long distances.
I finish London Marathon in 4:04:48
I am so proud when the man I considered to be our best club distance runner shakes my hand.
Apart from cycling I have amassed 30 years of leadership through employment and Guiding – Brownies and Guides.
I ask people to do something – they do it – or we discuss a better option and do it.
Soon I am leading the slower end of what was the Harriers reception group and the club can now cater for starters who can do 12 min/mile.
With a wide range of ability in I devise strategies, games and challenges to extend the fast and encourage the slow.
A FRESH NEW START
Four things happen at once.
My attainable running pace drops to 11 min/mile.
Horsforth Harriers want a Beginners Group.
I gain my level 1 coach licence – Leader.
Run England promotes country wide initiatives and…
RUN LEEDS AT HORSFORTH IS BORN
Alongside consultation with other clubs who are planning their own RUN LEEDS courses and on the back of promotion by the Jane Tomlinson 10k, I plan a 12 week course for Absolute Beginners, programmed to culminate in being able to finish the 10k.
ADMIN ADMIN ADMIN !!!
From computer denial to literacy born of necessity I make plans and run them past all the volunteer leaders and helpers. Together we devise a workable system and advertise:
LEARN TO RUN, HAVE FUN, GET FIT, MAKE NEW FRIENDS
Posters are placed in local shops and online.
All the leaders and helpers are primed with A4 sheets in their hands, advising them what activity, where, when and with whom it is expected.
38 would be members arrive.
I stand on a chair and raise my hand.
“I only have a little voice and I don’t intend to shout!”
You could have heard a pin drop.
Throughout the evening everyone completes all that is asked and we have fun.
Leaders return, giggling, they had heard whispers –
“She’s a bit stern, isn’t she fierce.”
We fall about laughing and devise a feedback questionnaire for the next session.
20 of the initial 38 returned, plus a further 10 new starters.
A few more join over the next 3 weeks.
There are no complaints recorded on the questionnaire, which is resubmitted for a few weeks until we are sure we are still on track.
Observations and proposals by members ware flagged up to the whole group and acted upon.
THE GROUP EVOLVES
Selected Group Members are successfully encouraged into helping and leadership.
We split the group into Beginners and Improvers to accommodate the now huge span of abilities and the new leaders plan more demanding routes, supported by maps and instructions.
The group is now around 20 members running every week.
THE 11TH WEEK
Very few of our members have signed up for the Jane Tomlinson 10k so we hold our own “in house” 10k and present T shirts to all the members.
POST COURSE EVALUATION
During the course our primary leaders have rehabbed two reconstructed knees, one recovering stroke and one torn hamstring. The only fit leader has improved her leadership skills.
The members want the group to continue, we need to be independent of the volunteers in the club who are fit and able to return to other club groups.
One new leader moves up to lead a 12 min/mile group.
I continue with the Absolute Beginners with help from my new slower leaders and helpers.
The Absolute Beginners Group, now the ABG, thrives.
There is a 6 Week course called a Schedule.
There are 3 Schedules to ensure routes and challenges vary.
I attempt to have at least one leader in training all the time and make the group responsible for themselves and each other.
We all carry a printed route sheet of the evening’s run.
We all LEARN TO RUN, HAVE FUN, GET FIT, and MAKE NEW FRIENDS