Lakers and Flyers Turn 1
The middle of February marked a significant milestone for two Run Leeds groups; The Farsley Flyers and South Leeds Lakers have etched their respective marks on the running landscape of Leeds, and it’s a journey worth sharing!
For the number crunchers out there – 237 participants have attended a session with 92 of these doing no or very little physical activity on joining. Female runners dwarf the number of men 2:1 attending – a case of true collective female empowerment? And 51 people hadn’t run for a whole year beforehand!
Throwback a year and both groups were formed to fill a gap. The inner south Leeds area lacked a mixed running group, and Farsley, a thriving suburbia, was starved of one completely!
Alison Ogle, founder of the Flyers, shared in her personal reason for starting the group:
Having recently moved to Farsley, I didn’t know anybody and thought setting up a group would be a great opportunity to meet new people
Evolved around a social focus both groups have become visibly embedded in their local communities with a frequent sea of blue and green pounding the pavements.
Ewan, an integral leader for the Lakers comments on his experience leading the group around Beeston in the first few weeks:
We got the cat calling from local kids – I don’t know many people that have not been called ‘Forest’
On reflection Phil adds:
When we first went out we got shouted at by people in Beeston – now we don’t get shouted at!
Speaking to key members of both groups I begin to understand the rise and retention of runners as both central to what happens during the weekly session and also outside of it.
Duncan, a run leader at the Flyers, states:
We engage with as many people during the sessions – we work our way around the group talking to as many people as possible, every session
Both groups also have thriving Facebook sections that make the sharing of knowledge, events and ‘unofficial runs’ endless – it appears to add another layer that keeps people engaged and active.
Gavin, runner and resident comedian at the Lakers explains why he keeps coming back:
The social aspect keeps you going on dark, cold and wet nights
And when prompted with the same question from a leader perspective, Duncan adds:
One member recently called it a social running group – a great phrase that sums up how conscious we are not to push anyone too hard
A lot can happen in a year and the conjuring up of ‘One of the most memorable moments’ evokes big smiles from Ewan and Alison.
The Bramley parkrun takeover – we had so many volunteers, marshalling, running and supporting it!
We ran just as a lightning storm hit and it’s probably the most fun we’ve had as a group – rain was bouncing off the concrete and lightening was going off all around us
Sat in a boozer in Hunslet and amid a full on party procession organised by the Flyers at Throstle Nest, I put forward the question of what to expect from both groups in future…
It (Farsley) is a really passionate area, we’re a really passionate club and we have the run leaders to keep it growing
Pondering this question Ewan drew on strengthening the inclusivity of the group:
Personally I see us targeting more new runners that want to start running from scratch, progressing up to 5k
Here’s to another year of running!