As we started the club year in November 2019, no-one would have predicted the challenges we would soon be facing, both as individuals and as a club.
The beginning of the year was one of continuation of a successful mixture of sessions including S&C, Pilates, Run Development, our regular Sunday and Wednesday group runs and a mix of socials as we saw the club steadily grow in numbers.
Rumour has it the bakers played a significant part in number growth and I have no doubt that is true. The welcome new runners receive when arriving at Gosforth Pool for the first time to run with us, the chance to talk with like-minded runners both before and after a run, and the support they receive on their run, is without a doubt why the club is successful, and that is completely down to you – the membership.
March 2020 and the arrival of COVID-19 to Newcastle brought about very different challenges and keeping our runners healthy and safe became our prime focus.
The way in which the committee, the club coaches and leaders, and the membership responded was inspiring and I think the whole club can be proud of that response.
The challenges of lockdown world have not stopped Newcastle Frontrunners engaging with other LGBT+ groups both in the UK and overseas.
Many members of NFR joined with the BigUKClubRun initiated by Glasgow Frontrunners, as well as participating in their own HomeRun 2020, and more recently significant numbers joined the Birmingham Swifts for their SwiftsVirtual2020 event.
Our own Virtual Festival of Running was a huge success with over 700 participants and gave the club the opportunity to engage with overseas Frontrunner groups as well as those within the UK.
The Festival of Running also allowed us to further support our nominated charity, Rainbow Home, who will be able to continue their valuable work as a result of the donation we were able to make. Several Rainbow Home clients have also been supported with running gear, donated by our membership, and have become regular runners with us.
No-one knows what will happen in the coming months and what is apparent is that the members of NFR will be there to continue supporting one another and I and the committee wish to express our gratitude to everyone for the part they play. Please keep taking the time to check in with one another and that conversation could make all the difference.
The earlier part of the year saw people continue to train for their own personal targets and the regular sessions all helped achieve that, focusing on stamina, speed and preventing injury.
Cross Country, those events which managed to go ahead during a wet winter, went down a storm as always and we had great participation from our mud-loving runners.
With the arrival of the pandemic, it has become something very different. The aim of this year has become ‘how do we support everyone to be motivated enough to keep running?’
I’m delighted to say that whilst we were not able to keep absolutely everyone going, we’ve not done too badly either.
Over 45 people took part in at least one virtual S&C this year and we have had around 90 join the club Strava group. Feedback has been the club BINGO really helped people to dig out the running shoes and hit those pavements. Whether it was the chance to do a range of distances, the chance to be innovative with photographs or simply the fascination with Strava Art, we saw a great engagement and it allowed people the chance to support and encourage one another.
As August arrived so did the return of the Rainbow Run, and the leaders have been brilliant. Many of them have been there every week, supporting our runners in small groups whilst keeping them safe and compliant within UKA guidance. The whole committee would like to pass on their thanks to the club leaders for the support they have given.
The return of the Rainbow Run has also allowed us to welcome new runners once more and we’ve seen a steady stream of people come along and subsequently join the club – and that’s without the usual temptation of cake.
Whilst completion of his accreditation has been somewhat delayed, we are also delighted to welcome Andrew Stoddart into the ranks of the coaches. Andrew and Stevie G have reintroduced Run Development back into the club offering, and so we are almost back where we began the year, which given the current world situation is quite an achievement.
Finally, we have just completed the delayed C25k programme with another 8 runners having completed the full programme. A great result given such challenging circumstances!