Last year Exmouth Harriers did some very successful “outreach” work when they offered a free beginners jogging course, writes Dave Eveleigh.

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Another course will be on offer after Easter. Keep an eye on this publication and community notice boards around the town for further details.

In the meantime, two of last year’s running graduates have spoken about the course.

Sandra Bates and Lin Western were looking for a way to get fit which was accessible and not too costly. Spotting a poster for the course they turned up.

At the second session they were asked to run for just 30 seconds non-stop and they remember thinking just how tough that seemed.

They stuck at It though and, while clearly their own commitment played a big part in their successful graduation, they were full of praise for the seasoned runners who acted as their mentors and encouraged them through to the end of the course, mentioning Bob Woodall, Bob Keast, Steve Merry and Phil Bater, though you got the impression there that the general atmosphere throughout was very supporting.

By the end of the 8-week course they were covering almost three miles on the path alongside the estuary between Exmouth and Lympstone.

Their next big achievement was completing the Blister Lite, a shorter version of Exmouth Harriers’ Bicton Blister race, but still a challenging four-and-a-half miles of cross country and something they would not have dreamed of being able to do less than a year earlier.

Four others who had been in the beginners group with them also did the race.

Around a dozen completed last year’s course, with the Harriers gaining nine new members, including Sandra and Lin, although the club is keen to stress there is absolutely no obligation to sign on the dotted line.

All the same, Sandra and Lin do mention the easy-going atmosphere of training nights adding a social dimension to keeping fit.

Others who finished the novices’ course included Sally Atherton, Sue Percy, Siobhan Trapnell and Nicola Musgrove and at the concluding session everybody ran a celebratory mile along the promenade inside12 minutes.

As a competitive sport running is about individual targets.

Sometimes that might mean chasing a win or a medal and Exmouth Harriers have members who are at the front of races doing just that but the holy grail of running is really the “PB” (Personal Best or as the Americans say “PR” - Record) and that is within range of everybody. Because of this there is always mutual respect between runners of whatever standard.

New participants like Sandra and Lin have no need to fear the humiliation of defeat since races usually attract hundreds of runners, some thousands, and everybody accepts there can only be one winner.

In fact it has been said that everybody is a runner, it’s just that some of us are not in training at the moment!

As to Lin’s and Sandra’s original desire to get fit, they say they feel fit, they feel healthy and they are also seem particularly pleased to be able to use the word “toned” to describe the physical benefits of a basically very simple activity.

Come Spring might it be their turn to support you?

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