Neil Featherby: How the flexibility of Run Crews are helping them thrive
Whilst running clubs in Norfolk are currently thriving by way of membership, there are other run groups springing up around the county where the emphasis is said to be much more informal with no specific rules or regulations.
As it happens, I run a couple of groups myself, but I hadn’t really thought too much about it other than putting on sessions for people who want to come along and join in irrespective of whether they belong to a club or not.
However, after recently chatting to an old friend and well-known local runner Tessa Jones, she was telling me about the emergence of Run Crews.
They are pretty much the same thing as what I organise using social media and technology to keep each other motivated by way of sharing information. Run crew sessions are open to anyone, particularly to those who wish to join in without any commitment of club membership although some of these groups are registered with Run Britain.
Tessa said she joined her first run crew whilst living out of a suitcase and working away from Norwich.
“I still wanted to train, but the transient nature of my then busy work life was not conducive to being a regular member of a running club and it soon became pretty obvious that there were others in the same position as myself for which the run crew provided a great alternative,” she said. “It was simply just a case of looking up a run crew at a location nearby who were offering a session to suit my ability, aims and objectives and of course started at a time which suited me.”
However, in 2016, Tessa returned to working in Norwich and after speaking to a number of friends to see if there was an appetite to develop the concept of a run crew, The Alf Tupper Harriers was born.
“Our aim is to be agnostic, free for everyone and made up of like-minded individuals who want to train, have fun and improve,” she said. “Some join because it’s just around the corner from where they live and it’s at a time which works for them. Others come along as it is also the chance to perhaps do a slightly more structured session with a group of friends as opposed to just going out and running on their own. At the same time some are also members of clubs, but perhaps can’t make their own club evening that week, so joining up with us is a bit of a win-win situation.”
After chatting with Tessa, it did actually make me think that in many ways these groups are a type of club albeit without the formality and any applied rules as what might apply within an affiliated club.
MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here
Ironically I can remember meeting up with runners from various clubs for sessions over 30 years ago. We would even travel to races together with the only difference being the club name and badges on our vests as we toed the start line before the off.
There were also several non-affiliated clubs back then for which races even had a prize list for those clubs.
Needless to say, 30 years ago there was no social media to inform others as to where sessions were going to be held, but we did have telephones albeit just the old fashioned land lines back then.
What is quite clear is that running is absolutely booming and Run Crews are a worldwide concept.
So whether you are involved with an affiliated club or indeed just someone who wants to run with no real commitment or pressure, running will continue to evolve and grow for many more years to come, that I am so very sure of.
As for The Alf Tupper Harriers, Tessa is very much an enthusiastic person who loves her running and will go out of her way to ensure that the sessions put on will suit all who attend. Details of her Run Crew can be found every Monday night on Facebook under Alf Tupper Harriers prior to meeting at Eaton Park on Tuesday nights.
With regards to belonging to an affiliated club, there are of course many very good reasons and positives for doing so for which I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of these Run Crews do actually go on to become affiliated clubs themselves.
However, and in the meantime, this is what makes running exactly why it is so good i.e. we are all free to make our own choices when it comes to putting on our running shoes.