The Runner's Tale

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santa dash

This is the entertaining story of Adrian Farrow's introduction to the Audlem Running Group (ARG). We have put the serious bit about the Nantwich Santa Dash at the front so that our less attentive readers don't miss it.

The Santa Dash

As ARG (Audlem Running Group) approaches the end of our first year, we have decided to mark the success and run for others and not just ourselves by entering the Nantwich Santa Dash — a fun 5k charity run held on Sunday 15th December at 10.30am, when many of the runners dress in Santa costumes. The charity is Hope House Childrens Hospices.

We have set up a JustGiving page so that if you would like to support us, you can do so.

Our JustGiving page can be found here:

Or search for ARG under "Teams" on the JustGiving website.

The tale

Looking through some family photos in that post-Christmas period last year, as I worked my way through the last of the mince-pies, the final chunks of Christmas cake and the neglected chocolates that had been left behind (none of them from Lllovely, of course!), the thought came into my head that when I looked at myself in those photos, I didn't look like the youthful middle-ager I felt like inside, but instead, who I saw was a man whose fitness level had sunk to an all-time low.

Popping a rather squashed dark chocolate, flavoured with some unidentifiable fruit-named jelly into my mouth, my eye alighted on an invitation in the News section of AudlemOnline to join a new group which, it said, would be doing some gentle running on a Saturday morning.

It was already too late for New Year resolutions, but the thought of that decrepit figure masquerading as me in the photos spurred me on to "give it a go".

Now in order to "give it a go", I had to venture into the world of sportwear — something I hadn't done for many years. But venture I did and I emerged on a crisp January 12th this year onto the Audlem playing field in my brand-new trainers and running gear, with very mixed emotions.

Local man, Matt Eardley had posted the piece on AOL and despite not actually living in Audlem, (something for which he has long since been forgiven) he had recognized the Audlem community spirit and launched his idea in the village. I'm sure that he had no idea what to expect, but I know that he was pleasantly surprised by the numbers who arrived at 8.30 that first Saturday morning.

I was not confident, it has to be said, when Matt announced that we would be doing "4 or 5 miles". My first thought was how embarrassed I was going to be when I had to stop after a hundred yards with an incurable stitch, but Matt explained that no-one was going to be left behind and we would all be fine. I know that was intended to be reassuring, but in my imagination, the scene changed to one where someone was standing over me, defibrillator in hand as I huffed and puffed lay on the ground, unable to take another step having only jogged from the playing field to the carpark entrance on Cheshire Street. "It's years since I did any running," I said, lamely. But Matt was very encouraging.

And miraculously, I was alright. That's not to say that I sprinted or anything, but at my own pace, I panted and plodded along and made it to the end. He was right, as well that nobody was left behind — the experienced and quicker runners turned around at various points and returned to join the back of the pack so that they covered more ground than the more sedate of us, but were still able to run at their own pace.

So it has been that for almost every Saturday since then (only trips away and a minor injury unrelated to running have prevented me being there every single week) come wind, rain and, more often than not, sunshine, I have been one of the happy and friendly bunch of people you may have seen running around the lanes and fields of Audlem.

We are now known as the Audlem Running Group ("ARG") and have our own entry in the AudlemOnline directories. We are recognizable by our smart blue ARG running shirts and occasionally, you will hear the loud shout of "Car!" as one of our number warns of approaching traffic. I'm not saying who that may be on any given day, but in their defence, they are performing a vital road safety function!

It is a truly a diverse group of mixed ages and abilities: some are half- and full marathon runners. One of our number has amazingly completed her 100th marathon during the year and has now moved on to grueling ultra-marathons.

One member was head-hunted by a local athletics club to run competitively after she trounced all-comers in the first Parkrun event we took part in whilst another has recently completed his first triathlon. Yet more have undertaken 10k runs around the country.

But there are some — and I'm one — who run for fitness and fun. I have enjoyed the social atmosphere of the group, who are to a man and woman, a really great bunch of people. We have participated in Parkrun events (organized 5k timed runs), on a challenging fell-type run in Shropshire and recently, as you may have read, ran cheerfully on part of the Sandstone trial in pretty awful weather. The WhatsApp group keeps us all in touch with what is going on and provides contact between runs.

We have welcomed people into the group throughout the year and have been joined from time to time by "guest" runners who have been visiting family, friends or the area.

No-one has ever felt excluded or left behind.