It started when mums were dropping their children off at gymnastics classes at Wisewood Sports Centre.
Among them was Gaye Fletcher, who was taking her daughter Isobel, and who went running during the gym sessions.
“Oh, I wish I could run”, she was told, or “I wish I had the energy and motivation”. There were excuses about how work and childcare commitments held them back.
The result was that Faye, joined by fellow fitness enthusiast Andrea Barber, started Strideout in May 2009, with an initial five women running for an hour every Monday.
Today numbers are up to 160 - and its success has led to being judged Group of the Year in the Run England awards for Yorkshire and Humberside that recognise the achievements of volunteers.
Gaye recalls how the ball started rolling with the gym mums.
“I wanted to offer them the opportunity to see that with a little dedication and planning they could run too! I started asking mums to join me for a run for the one hour whilst our children had their gymnastics class with Gymwise and then Strideout was launched!
“So what started as a small pipe dream for two newly experienced run leaders has now built to a 160 strong running group which caters for all abilities and ages. We have 16-year-old girls running with mum right through to 70-year-old ex-marathoners.”
It’s very much an S6 enterprise. Runs in the spring and summer are off road across places such as Wadsley Common, Bradfield, Loxley and Dungworth, and at other times on roads in Walkley, Stannington, Hillsborough and Wadsley. Routes are risk assessed.
Strideout has grown with support from community groups, GPs, schools and children’s centres, and it is promoted at Sheffield Hallam University, at the Central Library and on the local NHS database.
There are four run sessions a week and beginners walk/jog sessions. “We now have five run leaders supporting groups and have given women the confidence and support to go out there, enjoy the beautiful local countryside and reap the health and well-being benefits of running,” said Gaye, a student support officer at Hallam University, who is also a member of Hallamshire Harriers.
Strideout holds social nights and events to improve knowledge of fitness.
Other run leaders are Janice Ashforth, Alison Baum, Laura Hudson and Louise Goss.
The Run England award was “absolutely fantastic”, said Gaye. “We were completely and utterly shocked, but it has made us want to move forward.
“There is the need for women to be supported to return to running or to take it up as a hobby.”
Ideas include more sessions, possibility some from Forge Valley School, a ‘mini-Strideout’ for parents and children and a cycling spin-off. Women pay £1 a time which goes towards expenses such as the hire of a room at the sports centre.
Meanwhile, look out for the S6 runners in lycra.
“A lot of people recognise us as the mass of fluorescent women on the streets!”
Contact Gaye on firstname.lastname@example.org.