TUESDAY FEATURE: Surprising growth of Spalding-based running club founded on mum’s idea
What started as a Spalding mother-of-three’s appeal for some support in helping her train for the 2017 London Marathon has become Halmer Harriers Running Club.
Lisa Gill, a teacher who moved to Spalding with her family three years ago, put an appeal out on social media in January 2017 at the same time as she was helping a friend “get into running”.
Thirteen months later, between 40 and 60 runners go out on Tuesday and Thursday nights, as well as Saturday mornings, when along Love Lane, Cowbit Road and Halmer Gate from which the club takes its name.
Lisa said: “I’d been running for so long on my own, but I’d never had the confidence to join a running club because I thought everybody there would be better than me.
“However, I had my London Marathon training to do so I thought to myself ‘there must be a running club somewhere’ and, at the same time, I was trying to build up a friend’s confidence to get her into running as well.
“I put a post on Facebook to see if there was already a running club in Spalding or, if not, they could run with me and my husband Matt.
“For the first couple of weeks, we had a few people out who are now the club’s main committee members.”
Halmer Harriers tries to attract first-time runners with a “Couch to 5km” programme which aims to take people from walking and light running to a 3.1mile run in just two months.
Lisa said: “Halmer Harriers is now affiliated with England Athletics which allows us to get a reduction on entry fees for races.
“We have four fully-qualified coaches, with two more running group leaders who are about to go through their England Athletics qualifications and we have nearly 550 followers on Facebook.
In the future, we’d love to start a 10k race in Spalding because there are lots of towns that have one, so why not Spalding?
“In the future, we’d love to start a 10k race in Spalding because there are lots of towns that have one, so why not Spalding?”
However, it is what Lisa calls the club’s “real community feel” and its readiness to welcome “all types of runners” that marks Halmer Harriers out as a candidate for continued growth.
Marie Sampson, of Whaplode, who is running in April’s London Marathon for the charity Remember My Baby which helps parents after the loss of a child before, during or shortly after birth, said: “I’ve found Halmer Harriers to be a very friendly, encouraging group that welcomed me as a ‘newbie’.
“They planned several different length routes and there was no pressure on me to run above and beyond my ability.”
Club member Mark Goodale, of Spalding, said: “Halmer Harriers has helped me create a social life I didn’t previously have which as increased my self-confidence a great deal.
“Thanks to Lisa and the support of others, I’ve entered more races, I’m now on the club committee looking after sponsorship and I have friends for life in Spalding.”
Halmer Harriers is holding a quiz night in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK at The Birds pub in Halmer Gate, Spalding, this Friday at 7pm and entry is £4 per person, with a maximum of six people allowed per team.
• For more details about Halmer Harriers, visit www.halmerharriers.co.uk