At the AGM in January 2018, Kay Kapsalis asked if we could run a 0-5 group to encourage new runners having seen what an amazing job Hilary Jones had done at So Let’s Go Running in Gravesend. We didn’t get around to doing it last year but Kay persevered and we eventually set a start date for the 25th of June, got flyers printed, flooded social media and nagged all of the local slimming groups but we didn’t know if anyone would actually come along.
The traffic that first evening was the worst Dartford could offer, gridlocked streets, stranded and delayed run leaders, would anyone not within walking distance even bother to try ? I was stuck in a car en route from Thamesmead, crawling along with a very grumpy husband driving while I fielded messages from the rest of the team as to who had made it and how many new runners had arrived, they were all frantically trying to get forms filled in while I was sending details of what the session should be and some information on the club and the course in case I didn’t make the start or as it turned out, the finish. It was not quite the smooth organised start we had planned but Mel, Chris, Kay, Keith and co. did a great job with the 23 runners who turned up that first night, I arrived just as everyone got back to the Cricket Club after their run and just in time to hand out the plan for the next 9 weeks having not run a step myself.
The plan was that we all meet on Tuesdays at So Let’s Go Running Dartford, then again at the SLGR training session on Thursdays and hopefully get a few people together to take on a Park Run at the weekend. As is always the case, not everyone can make every session but we set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch, encourage and give the runners the chance to team up when they couldn’t make the sessions. This seems to have worked really well in building a great team spirit amongst the group.
We also expected to have a few people drop off, miss sessions through holidays etc. or start late but we seem to have kept a core of around 20 runners who are sticking at it and it’s great to see how much they seem to be enjoying it, even the Thursday session where we go off plan a bit and push them a little more. There was a bit of concern that the Sisyphus Hill session in week three would have had them running from the hills, not to them, they were all terrified beforehand, but we asked them to give it a go for one rep of 15, 30, 45 and 60 seconds uphill and see how they got on, anyone struggling or hating it we would split off and do the regular session instead but they all thoroughly enjoyed it in a twisted kind of way which I think was probably helped with Fleur’s Braveheart yell and charge on the last rep of three that they did in the end. They also survived running on the hottest day on record and a super circuits session which involved, hills, sprints, straight running and a whole load of core exercises, there was a lot of moaning and groaning from both the 0-5s and the SLGRs but everyone did really well.
On week eight we decided to venture out onto the old Summer 5K route rather than running around the park for 28 minutes which proved a whole new challenge, mainly because they got a lot further, a lot faster than we expected and myself and the other run leaders were left trying to make sure Mark knew where he was going at the front, he went further than I expected but I had to wait for the next ones to point them in the right direction before Fleur dashed off to try and catch Mark and I ran after the next batch to keep them on track further up but they had gone rogue and turned left, so I followed them and tried to round them up while Mel and Keith looked after another group who did go the right way and most of us did end up back in the park to finish our time there but it was a bit like herding cats. Mark eventually found his way back and poor Ella ended up in the wrong park but made it back before dark. It’s a learning curve for us too and I think we learnt quite a lot that night.
We have had a lot of laughs with photos from the group on the WhatsApp thread, Colette’s willie shaped run route map and holiday run past a nudist beach were particular highlights and lots of photos of the gang out doing their runs when they missed the group runs. We’ve had a blast.
They have just completed our final week for most of the runners, there are one or two a couple of weeks behind but we will get everyone through it by early September. Their last session for the main group was over the bank holiday weekend but we are aiming for a big finale at the Tuesday session on the 27th with everyone running together with the rest of the So let’s Go Running crowd and we are planning a little something for all of our finishers so we hope you will all come along and support them before we unleash them all onto the running world.
There is a 5k race taking place on September 14th at 10am in Thamesmead which has been set up by a fellow Run Together group which would be a great first event for the group to earn their first bit of bling, so if anyone can join us there, please do
The course has been a great success and we thank everyone who has run with us, helped out and encouraged our first 0-5 group. #TeamSLGR
Here’s a few pics from our last Tuesday session taken by Keith with a nice bit of sunset.