Sheffield neighbours create socially-distanced running group

Just like the other worldwide community running phenomenon, the idea of StreetRun is simple.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 12:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th June 2020, 8:00 am

“You just put up a flyer, go out and run and see who follows you,” says Beki Heaton.

However, unlike the international Parkrun movement – with about 350,000 people running, walking or, volunteering at more than 2,000 parks across 22 countries every Saturday, until March this year, anyway – StreetRun still operates under Covid-19 rules.

StreetRun founder Lucy Wood, a longstanding local fell runner, says: “I’d just had an iron infusion for an illness which made be really unwell, and before that I think I’d had the coronavirus when I’d been working in London.“Running is normally like my oxygen, I go out every day, so I was really missing not being able to go up onto the fells under lockdown and I went a bit nuts.” After bashing a swing ball about in her back garden for a week, she decided to ‘give myself a kick up the backside’ and do a local run to raise money for the NHS.

take up running

She mapped out a 400-metre circuit around her block of streets in Sharrowvale, and set out to run 25 laps as a 10km run, raising nearly £300. And then she decided to keep going, every Thursday before the NHS communal clapping, and one by one, neighbours began to join in, all keeping two metres apart up and down the hills of Wayland and Bowood Roads.

Julia Stanley says: “I’d got out of the habit of running, and seeing Lucy gave me the shove I needed to get going again.”

Beki says: “I’d lost my mojo, so getting fit was the motivation for me.

“And I like the fact that my daughter can see me running with other women, which might be quite empowering for her.”

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Jane Beaumont says: “The fact you’re running around in a circuit means that you’re never at the back. You never feel as if you’re lagging miles behind, because you never are!” The Waywood Runners, as the group is now called, was formed partly from seeing Lucy doing her weekly run, and partly from the local social media group set up to offer mutual help as the lockdown began. As runners began to join in behind Lucy, the group ensured the circuit could operate well under social distancing: faster runners call out as they approach from behind, and runners keep their distance either on pavements or the quiet local roads. The Waywood circuit includes one sharp uphill, so the ethos is always that participants can walk or run, do as many laps as they want, and family members and kids can join in too, as long as all households keep their distance from one another. After a few weeks, the weekly runs became twice weekly, with a Sunday 9am version popular for parents with young kids who struggle with Thursday evenings.

Adult participants have been female so far, which may or may not relate to the Waywood men enjoying a lie in on Sunday mornings. On July 5, the whole crew will be running a 19-lap relay, the Waywood 19, to raise money for the S2 Foodbank – donations can be made via justgiving.com/crowdfunding/the-waywood-19

Jane says: “Covid 19 has been devastating for a lot of people, who may have lost their jobs, so we’re delighted we can run to raise money to help support some of those people.” The community StreetRun has brought people together, introducing runners to neighbours they’d not met before, said Lucy, as well as helping encourage non-runners or lapsed runners to give it a go, with the support of their new friends.Julia aims to run her first 5K as a result of the local StreetRun, while Jane is planning a five-mile circuit of the Burbage Valley for her 60th birthday.

Beki, who is now preparing for her first marathon, says: “These local runs have really helped me with my motivation.”

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Lucy says: “I hope StreetRun shows running is not complicated.

“Anyone can do it. You just need to be able to move your feet, really.’

The first StreetRun started with just one person. Neighbours seeing this wanted to join in, and it quickly built into a fun, regular run at two set times each week. See streetrun.co.uk to find out more about how to get involved or if you have any questions on how you could set up, or you’ve set one up yourself, email [email protected]

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