I took up running in January 2009. I had given up smoking as my new years resolution and wanted something to keep me off the ciggies. I hadn’t heard of coach to 5k so I just used to run to lampposts until the gaps of walking became fewer. I quickly found I loved it and did my first official race in the February, 5 miles for Action Heart. Then in the March I did my first half the Ironbridge half marathon. I used to run most days and entered the London marathon in 2010. I’ve never been a fast runner or a good runner. Some might even call me a jogger. The thing with running is it doesnt matter how good you are, how wealthy you are its something pretty much anyone can do. Over the years I found one of my favourite things was entering races. I didnt chase pbs and knew I would never be one of the first back. However i loved the buzz of race day, the crowds and medal. It all made for a great day out and that get me inspired.
After I ran Manchester marathon in 2015 I decided I needed something more of a challenge so I entered race to the stones a couple of months later. A 100km ultra marathon. My husband thought I was nuts, but he agreed to drop me off and picked up at the finish line the next day. I planned for it badly and didn’t carry water. By the end I was so dehydrated but absolutely chuffed to bits that I had managed to finish it. In fact I even entered it a couple times more over the following years.
I had a short illness which involved a couple operations and part of my recovery meant I couldn’t run. When I tried to run again I really struggled and it left me demotivated. Its amazing how quickly you lose your fitness. I’ve been pretty much a lone runner over the years. I was/am a member of Vegan runners but this is more of an internet running club with a Facebook community. One of the ladies from the vegan runners community “Gail” put me in touch with Gavin Harrison who attended a running club she also attends called “Sneyd Striders “, but she said he also co-runs a C25K group in walsall. I contacted him straight away and in the same week I join him along with other wannabe runners at “Bloxwich run together” I completed the course and that was it I was hooked again. I started entering every race I could find. Then Gavin told me about the Sneyd striders pudding run, Ironically I had never been to Sneyd Striders or heard of the yearly event the pudding run, even though they would have been my closest club. After I had completed the 5 mile pudding run wearing my vegan runners club vest a couple of the members from Sneyd came over to introduce themselves. They chatted for ages and told me they too were vegans, vegan runners being their second club. I found them so friendly I suddenly realised what I had been missing all these years was a running club with people to run with. I turned up to club on a club night and found them so welcoming that I started running regularly with them. They were after a website designer so I put my name down to get involved even though I was a complete newbie to their club. I knew if able I wanted to give something back as they had given me my love for running back.
Apart from the running I like to attend cross-fit sessions (functional fitness) three times a week. I’m also a keen scuba diver and am qualified up to the level of master scuba. I’ve dived in many exotic locations around the world, including shark diving in South Africa & Egypt, Borneo and Malta. Most of my diving is done around the U.K, mostly in quarries. In my sedate moments I like to attend to my garden and am keen vegetable grower.
However I really love being a part of Sneyd! It’s great being part of a club where politics are irrelevant, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, what your story is, what your background is, how good a runner you are, everybody in the group is encouraging and supportive. It’s not just a running club it’s a community. They have kept me running with rich and supportive friendships.
My running history began in September 2009, following my school’s first very successful working pilgrimage to Lourdes in SW France in Summer 2009 with a group of six formers from St Thomas More Catholic School, where I taught Physics and Science. Upon our return to school in September 2009, planning immediately began for our 2010 pilgrimage. All members of the group were asked to come up with ideas to raise the funds needed (about £600 per person!) during the school year. I came up with the rather crazy idea of running a marathon for the first time and inviting sponsorship.So began my history of running. I settled on running the Shakespeare Marathon, Stratford Upon Avon in April 2010 for my fundraising effort for that year. Not having run since Year 9 at secondary school in 1974, it was a daunting challenge to go from nothing to 26.2 miles in 6 months! Yes, I cycled to work every day and have cycled continually since a youngster so at least I had some degree of fitness. So I downloaded the suggested training programme off the Shakespeare marathon website and training began in September 2009, with running 1 lamppost, walking 2 and building up from there! All training was done solo and I discovered the beauty of our local canal network for training purposes. So the big day arrived on 25th April 2010 and I had camped for the weekend with my friends at a small CL campsite just outside Stratford for the weekend. Not only did I enjoy the event, running through lovely countryside, lots of support and finishing with the fantastic Greenway trail to conclude at the finish line opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, but I completed in an amazing (for me) 4:18:40! with my four energy gels sustaining me for the duration. I’d have been happy with anything under 5 hours! So started my love of running! I subsequently repeated the Shakespeare full in 2011 in a slightly worse time of 4:23:30 in rather more humid conditions than in 2010. I’ve not run another full marathon since then but have ran the Stafford Half Marathon every year from 2012, steadily improving my times.I first joined Sneyd Striders in September 2015 after retiring from teaching and being welcomed by now fellow committee member John Harvey who I used to teach at school many years ago! Little did I realize back then that I would be Chair in only 5 years! Since joining the Striders, my running has gone from strength to strength with so much friendship and encouragement from fellow members.
I became Newsletter editor and Events Secretary at the 2017 AGM, subsequently passing Events duties over to Debby Snapper when I became Chair in September 2019. Since being a member of the Striders, I have completed numerous half marathons, the Chantilly 12K just outside Paris in June 2018 when we visited our Sister ASC Drancy Club in Paris. Also 10K events and membership of both our North Staffs and Birmingham League Cross Country Teams. And many park runs including regularly volunteering as timekeeper at Walsall Arboretum Parkrun. My best ever Half Marathon time was achieved at Stafford Half, 2020 just before Lockdown when I achieved a sub 1:40 for the first time ever, completing in 1:38:28 smashing my original PB by nearly 5 mins!
I was re-elected as Chair at our March 2020 AGM and was very proud to be the winner of the club’s Member of the Year 2019-2020.
Maureen Thirza Dargavel
Hi my name is Mo and I am nearly 62 years of age. I started running quite a few years ago now. John was going on an operational tour in Iraq and I badly needed a distraction SO I signed up for the Berlin Marathon. I had run at school but at this point the furthest I could run to was the lamppost at the end of our strasse. I trained, ran the race and howled at the finish, John was there to see me complete it. The next year John ran it with me and the year after John, my son Rich and myself did it again. We have since done lots of races together.
I joined Sneyd 3 years ago after beginning to feel vulnerable as a woman running solo. I was fed up of playing chase the Grandma!! I saw Sharon Blest in a Sneyd picture and recognised her from WMBC so asked her about Sneyd Striders. She persuaded me to come along and the rest as they say is history! Proudest moment (other than marrying John and raising 2 great kids) getting the club place and running the London Marathon in a Sneyd Vest in 2019. I also did it in a Good for Age time which was just the icing on the cake and such a boost.Things I like about the club is that everyone is hugely supportive of each other. I really enjoy the beginners courses and seeing everyone enjoy and achieve. I took on the role of Wellness Champion in the Spring and although COVID 19 changed things for us as a club, I believe it has made us stronger.
My aspirations are to run London next year sub 4 hour and I would love to do Race the Stones or an Ultra if someone would take me under their wing?
My running story began in 1983. I just wanted to get fitter for climbing in the Swiss Alps. Prior to that I had a dismal record of physical activity. Useless at football, hated rugby, disliked running and utterly loathed cross country. (One year I was the club’s cross country champion!) However I’d always enjoyed mountaineering and rock climbing. My first race was the Walsall Half Marathon in 1983. Finished it in under 2 hours and swore I’d never do another. I joined Sneyd Striders in 1987. Pete McNulty, a climbing and running mate recommended the club to me. I ran with Mac Mills and Ray Price on my first night. 33 years on and I’m still a member! I joined the committee in 1990, but didn’t become treasurer until 1992 when the club had a significant change, with Trev Simms as Chair, Bob Drew as Secretary and Stan Harrison as Club Captain. Soon afterwards the club took over the running of the Christmas Pudding Run from the school. Up until that point the club had little money. Members paid 50p each time they came for a run. That was the only income.
I’ve now been treasurer for 28 years. My first marathon was the Wolverhampton Marathon in 1986, just squeezing in under 4 hours. Never ever doing that again I thought. I actually ended up doing 50 marathons, the last one being, London in 2010. This included 19 Potteries Marathons and 17 London Marathons. I managed to run sub 3 hours on seven occasions; 5 London Marathons, 1 Derby Ramathon and another in Luxembourg.
Marathon – 2h 56m 12s (London)
Half – 1h 21m (Shire Oak)
10 Miles – 59m (Sneyd Christmas Pud Run)
10k – 36m (Blackpool)
I was never that keen on short distance races. Much preferred longer distances.
Sneyd Striders Running Club celebrated its 35th Anniversary last year and I was extremely proud to be part of that. The club is quite different nowadays with 148 members last year and significantly more women than men! I can remember times in the past when we had just three lady members! My running targets for the future are quite simple. When you’re 70 (never thought I’d live that long) you are just happy to be still breathing, never mind running. I’ll keep going so long as I’m able to and still enjoy it. I shall continue to encourage others and take satisfaction from their achievements. I will offer advice to anyone who wants to listen to this old timer. I shall carry on enjoying the company and friendship of a wonderful group of people.
Long may it continue!
My running journey began in 2017, when I was in my first year of university in Chester. In the summer, my housemate and close friend Rachel suggested we go for a run together, since the weather was lovely and we’d both been stuck indoors all day revising for exams. Our first run together was definitely more of a walk – for every 30 seconds of running, we had to take a 2-minute break to regulate our breathing. However, as we started to make running a regular routine in our week, we noticed small improvement over time. Running definitely isn’t something I am naturally good at, but I found that I was really enjoying being outside in the sunshine, and it was nice to be able to explore different areas and routes.
In my second year, I joined my university’s official running club. I loved the sense of community and how friendly and supportive everyone was, and I looked forward to our club runs together every week. In May 2019, I completed my first official race – the Chester 10k, and a few months later I completed the Cannock Chase 10k once I had finished university.
I love the atmosphere of races, and after watching several friends from my university running club complete the Chester Half Marathon, I decided to sign up to the 2020 race myself! I put a lot of effort and dedication into training for this race, so I was definitely a little bit disappointed when the race was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
However, I didn’t want my training and hard work to go to waste, so on 17th May – the date the race was supposed to be – I ran the full 13.1 miles from my own doorstep, with nothing but my own mind to cheer me on.
I joined the Sneyd Striders in September 2020, after I realised how much I missed running as part of an official club. The members are all so lovely and supportive, and I have already made some great friends. My next goal is to run an official Half Marathon (instead of a virtual one), and after that I hope to work towards a full Marathon!
Promotions & Kit Coordinator
An informal insight into the world of running (through my experiences) and how being part of a supportive club enables you to achieve anything you set your mind to, whatever your pace and ability.
I’m 51 and I joined Sneyd in 2014… The club helped me train for my race for life 5K. My sister was a longstanding member and it was through her encouragement that I joined the club with another sister . Members soon took us under their wings and I managed to run over 4 miles during the beginner’s course. We sadly didn’t continue due to other commitments but we did come back later that year for a short while. I continued to run every now and again outside of club. In September 2018 I was determined to run more regularly again and to support a charity close to my heart, – MIND… so I rejoined as a beginner and trained for the Pudding Run. Sadly, I didn’t complete the beginners course as my mom passed away suddenly, just a couple of weeks before the race. However, my last run at the club was with Barry Harrison and he supported myself and Nicola Round to run 6 miles! This held me in good stead and I completed the run! The following year I completed my first 10K (the Birmingham Great Run), 6 months to the date of losing mom and I dedicated that race to her. She would never have believed I’d be able to run that far! My wonderful running buddy Helen helped me round The same year I also did my first Stafford relays, we all got soaked to the skin but we all had the best time. It was so good to be part of a team and great to be with so many club members. A real social occasion. I also completed 10K at Cosford where I was overtaken by a giraffe and Blackpool Run the Lights 10K – that was a great weekend!!! The spirit of Sneyd members was apparent when Alison and Helen waited for me near the finish and literally dragged me across that line. I’ll never forget that. I don’t think I got the pre-race prep during the day quite right. During this same year my brother got diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, so I planned to run my first half at Liverpool for MNDA in 2020. Having seen all the amazing photos of club members there that year, I knew I would have lots of support. Unfortunately due to Covid it has been postponed twice. The new date is May 2021. Another blow was the sudden loss of my dad days before the 1st anniversary of losing my mom. I had a break from running but picked it back up in the new year 2020 and ran a terrible Fradley 10K but I got round to the amazing welcome from club members at the finish line. Spring 2020, I became Club General Secretary of which I really enjoy. The committee consists of a range of experience and ability in running. I hope to be the voice for the slower members. I was team captain for Pandemonium for the first challenge during lock-down. This really helped during the lonely times of the pandemic and brought our club together ;be it virtually. Well done to Gavin for making this possible.
As you can gather, I am on the lower end of the ability scale. I am always at the back, probably the slowest member at the moment but Sneyd is an all inclusive club and all of our members are so supportive and encouraging of one another. I am most definitely a completer not a completer. Running has certainly been my saviour during difficult times. I feel lucky to know some amazing people through Sneyd Striders.
Ladies Vice Captain, Social Secretary
Women's Cross-Country Captain
My running journey with Sneyd Striders started in 2012. I had been looking at running clubs for a while, but found that a couple of miles was too far to travel to a club. Funny now that those distances are warm up runs……
I eventually moved closer and took the opportunity. I haven’t looked back. I was the same as everyone else that joined the club then, always at the back. Fortunately I had a very patient and amazing leader, Anita Holland, that looked after me for quite a while. I never really felt like a runner until I beat our Treasurer, Dick Johnson in a race. Bearing in mind he is over 20 years my senior, shows what a great runner he is. However I was still so immensely proud, and felt like I had earned that vest.
Although I am proud of my PB times, and improving, it is probably more changes at the club that has made me more proud.
I trained to become a Run Leader in 2015, but the way the club was structured at the time I didn’t feel that I could give any benefit to the members, as majority were both faster and more experienced than me. So when I heard that Walsall Council wanted to set up a couch to 5k, I volunteered my services to them.
So since January 2017, I have been Jog Leader to Walsall Council led C25K. This usually means we are training about 100 people per year through 3 structured plans in January, April, and September. Many of those that have finished the course have gone on to become members of Sneyd.
I joined the committee around this time as men’s cross country captain, and have also been kit manager for a while. I am proud that we have never failed to get a team to a fixture, and I am proud that we got the ball rolling with the production of additional kit items; hoodies, zoodies, jackets, hats and caps. I wanted the Sneyd brand to be seen and we have been successful with that.
Finally my biggest success before this last year was the reintroduction of Thursday runs; it was a conversation with Stan Harrison, a previous club captain that set this off, and it also meant I could introduce some of my run leader experiences into training with fartleks, single file running, and hill training. So now we have 2 club runs a week and variation in our training.
COVID although the worst pandemic to hit us for a long while, has actually given us time to sit back and see things from a different perspective. After nearly 10 years at the club, I eventually felt I was ready to put myself forward as Club Captain, which I am very excited about. We will also have 5 or 6 run leaders, in addition to the most invaluable experience from within the club.
So although the changes in the club are for the better, we are forever guided by our veteran runners, and it is this mix of experience and new members that continue to drive the future of our club.
We are one big family, and pride ourselves on looking out for each other. We want to give anyone that wants to run an experience, and an opportunity to make our club stronger. We may not be the fastest, but we are inclusive. We offer the safety of a running community.