Running Through the Year – June

The May blog finished with a quotation from a famous runner. Did you know who it was? It was Sir Roger Bannister and here is a fuller version of his quotation:

“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves… The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom… The human spirit is indomitable.”

This is so apt at the moment. Yes, we run because we enjoy it, but it gives us more, so much more and has been really important in these troubled times.

June brought us the start of summer, the longest day, the initial easing of lockdown and the opportunity for the Purbeck Runners to start planning for a gradual return to club activities. In recent months these news blogs have tried to capture something of the activities of the members, but it has also been a record of our local area and community captured through photographs taken on their runs. Through their photographs we have been able to enjoy the constantly changing scene in our wonderful countryside during the glorious spring weather, reminding us how fortunate we are to live and run in such a beautiful place. The members' photographs have also captured the human story in our community, with the rainbows, the ever growing collection of painted pebbles and of course the members own virtual running challenges, a constant reminder of the times we are living through and that the Coronavirus pandemic is not over yet. We had a brief flurry of flags and bunting in the streets for VE day in May and now there is a new, important and powerful message seen on our streets, our social media and in the news with Black Lives Matter. England Athletics put out the following image and statement on behalf of all running clubs and it is one that the Purbeck Runners fully supports…

The Purbeck Runners fully support the statement by England Athletics
The Purbeck Runners fully support the statement by England Athletics

Through June the running has continued and in the absence of racing, the virtual events and individual challenges have provided plenty of opportunity to find an outlet for the competitive spirit. This was wonderfully illustrated by Rose Clarke and Clare McDermott who took part in “The Lakesman in Lockdown” which was a special virtual version of the triathlon event held in the Lake District, involving a 56 mile bike ride and a half marathon run. They both completed the tough challenge in fine style with Clare doing a Saturday bike and Sunday run and Rose smashing both out on the same day! Congratulations to you both!

Rose Clarke
Rose Clarke
Clare McDermott
Clare McDermott

Sarah Colquhoun, who had the Purbeck Runners’ London Marathon place for this year and was clearly ready for a long distance challenge, decided to do a virtual run to York to Kate Colquhoun’s house, a distance of some 300 miles. Having completed this “lovely virtual running holiday in York” and received her Lockdown Medal, Sarah decided she might as well run to London (237 miles) and then back home (126 miles)! By 28th June Sarah had completed 457 miles. Fantastic effort!

Sarah Colquhoun
Sarah Colquhoun
Sarah's Lockdown Challenge Medal
Sarah's Lockdown Challenge Medal

Meanwhile Club Chair and Coach, Paula Lawton-Archer, who created the excellent video training sessions which have been keeping us all on top form, has been doing a weekly running commute to work with a picturesque 12 miles from Swanage to Stoborough, as you can see in Paula's photographs below:

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The virtual challenges have been good and great at keeping up spirits, but genuine excitement greeted the announcement from England Athletics that under new government rules relaxing the lockdown there could be a restricted return to activity for affiliated clubs. It was excitement, with a bit of apprehension as to how we could apply the guidelines to deliver a quality experience while keeping everyone safe. The club had already been thinking about this and held virtual meetings with England Athletics and other clubs. The guidelines permitted up to six runners, or 1 coach and 5 runners to train together outdoors with 2m social distancing. However, there was a lot of work to do as England Athletics understandably required the club to prepare a thorough plan for this return to activity, with key roles clearly identified, a COVID-19 specific risk assessment, additional PPE purchased for first aid, suitable training locations identified and a means of managing the numbers of people booking onto sessions put in place. It was a task that the Committee and running Group Leaders were only to keen to get stuck into.

In planning for this return, the prime concern of the club’s Committee was for the safety of its members, their families and the public, so this did limit what was possible initially. The narrow streets, footpaths and tracks around Swanage do make it very difficult to hold organised runs with groups of 6 people and maintain social distancing between runners and the public, especially with increasing numbers of people out and about. It was considered more practical to hold training sessions for groups of 6 in specific separate locations such as parks, playing fields or on the downs, so the decision was taken to start this way on a Wednesday evening. The running Group Leaders have been working up ideas for training sessions with some of them getting together (as you can see below) to try out ideas and it’s looking good! It has been essential to ensure that the sessions are not only safe, but suitable for runners of all abilities to train at a pace and intensity that suits them. It is also important that as we are meeting up again for the first time, everyone should be able to have some fun and enjoy the social experience.

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So as June comes to a close, the club has completed its planning, announced its first training sessions and is ready for action on Wednesday 1st July. There has been an enthusiastic response from the members with four groups led by Paula Lawton-Archer, Ross Wayne, Abigail Baker and Jayne Hodson meeting in four separate locations around Swanage for this first club night and more Group Leaders ready for future meetings. What a great way to start July!

Happy running!

Once again thank you very much to all the club members who have provided stories and photographs that I have used in this article.

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