A young business which has led more than 400 newcomers to take up running is in line for a sports award.
Jogging Pals has been shortlisted in the finals of the Cumbria Sports Awards, which will be celebrated on Friday night.
Founded three years ago by Glyn Rose and Wayne Singleton, both England Athletics coaches, the Jogging Pals programme has taken former non-runners from couch to 5k throughout Cumbria and North Lancashire.
The scheme has been so successful that the business now has six running leaders and is organising “improvers” programmes for runners who want to continue to 10k, 20k or even further. There are also guided runs in association with the National Trust and the Forestry Commission at Sizergh Castle and Grizedale Forest.
“It’s a great honour to be shortlisted for this award, and a tribute to our team,” said Wayne Singleton, a former smoker and drinker who now competes in triathlons, has run marathons, and is a keen open water swimmer. He works at the Alpkit store in Ambleside.
He started running again, after being a junior athlete, when he was breathless walking up the stairs. “It changed my life, and I wanted to do something to help others,” he said.
Those “others” include couch-potatoes who have lost weight, taken part in competitive races and even trained as coaches themselves. Some run for fun, or for the social side of running. “We wanted to prove that running is for anyone, even if they have never run before.”
He and Glyn Rose, another “convert”, have since taken part in the Great Manchester 10k, Great North Run, London Marathon, New York Marathon, and Lakeland 50. Wayne has also competed in the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara desert.
Their aim was to encourage newcomers to achieve 5k with encouragement, with one training session a week and two other runs. “The plan was then to let them loose in the wild, as we put it, as there are so many running clubs in the region” said Glyn. “But we found that our members wanted motivation to do more, so that’s why we introduced programmes to extend their distances.”
Jogging Pals pay £45 for an eight-week programme, and members are encouraged to join up together to run at other times. “One of the keys to our success is enabling people to ‘pal up’ as the weeks go by, to train with other people who may live close by, and to make friends,” said Glyn. “The social aspect of jogging is massively important to us, and we make a lot of friends through this. But we also acknowledge that for some people, we are improving their health and fitness, and even saving their lives.”
Their website (https://www.joggingpals.co.uk/) carries testimonials from newcomers, often seriously overweight, who have benefited from the programme, and have carried on running.
One wrote: “In the final night of the course I jogged without stopping once for the full 5k and I was elated. By the end I’d realised I’m a tortoise. I’m slow but steady and I get there in the end.” He now has an entry for the Great North Run.
The annual Cumbria Sports Awards will be held on Friday at The Low Wood Bay Hotel, Windermere. The event recognises the outstanding talents, commitment and successes of teams and individuals throughout Cumbria who are involved in sport.