Graduates of a pioneering running club for beginners have progressed so much that they will represent Buxton in their first ever marathon in Barcelona.
The runners all took up the sport with Buxton Athletic Club’s Target 5k Running Club, a scheme that aims to change lives by helping new and returning runners to get fit and healthy — and become capable in just nine weeks of completing a 5k race.
Target 5k was first held in April 2015 and since then four groups have supported more than 100 local people with little or no running experience. Many have stayed at the athletics club and gone on to become members and race regularly.
It is all part of Buxton AC’s aim to back Derbyshire Sports’ strategy to get 50,000 more people active by 2021.
The groups are guided by Andrew Wearden, England Athletics licensed leader of the Target 5K club, who said: “It has proved a massive success, helping people of all ages and abilities make the transition from couch potato to 5K athlete over just nine weeks. It is so rewarding.
“This has been a fantastic achievement, not only for Buxton AC, but also in encouraging so many people to get active through running. It is changing lives.
“Some of the graduates of the plan have gone on to complete half-marathons, while a handful will be taking part in their first ever marathon, representing Buxton AC in Barcelona in the spring.”
The beginners’ groups have been described as friendly, encouraging and supportive, enabling runners who couldn’t run for more than a minute without taking a walking break to go on to complete respectable times over 5k (3.1 miles), running for more than 30 minutes, just nine weeks later.
The next group, where members steadily increase their distance and pace to build confidence in a supportive environment, will begin in January.
Wearden said: “We have helped make sport inclusive to many local people of all ages, some with physical health issues, mental health problems and difficulties, such as autism.
“For example, we had one girl who was suffering after losing her father the year before. After just five weeks she was a different person and she now runs races regularly.
“Many people who have successfully completed our nine-week plan have also gone on to continue to develop their running and lead a much fitter, happier and healthier lifestyle.
“In week one of the plan they can’t run for a minute without stopping for a walk-break, yet by the end of the plan they can run for more than 30 or 40 minutes quite comfortably.”
Wearden, who set up the beginners courses after realising there was no way into the sport for people with no experience, said it was a community effort where everyone supported each other.
“it is great. The best thing is that everyone who comes is soon so much happier, healthier and fitter, especially those who had not run before.
“Just to see the journey that people make is fantastic and the best reward for me.”
The next course starts in January and at the end of the plan runners will be given the option to enter the Pavilion Gardens 5k race in the town. They will also receive a medal on completion of the course.
The first week of the plan sees runners encouraged to run for one minute and walk for two minutes, to be repeated 10 times. They are also urged to complete a further one or two sesssions as well as running with the Target 5k Running Club.
The Target 5K group meets each Monday and Wednesday evening and members follow a specially-developed plan.
The course costs £25 and runners, aged 16 to 69, meet in the Pavilion Gardens, just outside the swimming pool entrance.
For more information go to www.target5k.co.uk or www.facebook.com/target5k