Shaun Hamer, in green, and Martin Heeley, standing back right, are determined not to give up.

ATHLETICS: One of the recurrent themes among runners at the moment is how they are missing training together, going to races and matches, but also how to finding inventive ways to stay motivated, in touch, and competitive.

Ryston Runners AC was founded almost 33 years ago, and has evolved to cater for all abilities and disciplines, encouraging and supporting members in their various endeavours. 

There have, over the years, been various groups established to focus on the particular needs or even just geographical locations, of different athletes.

One such group, which has been to the fore recently is the Don’t Give Up (Run for You) group. 

Although the name has particular resonance at this time, the group actually started three years ago after Ryston’s Get into GEAR sessions. 

One of the group’s founders, Martin Heeley, said: “There were a lot of our wives and friends (non-runners) who were doing the sessions to be ready to run the GEAR. 

“We had all made lots of new running buddies and some were saying it was a shame the sessions were coming to an end. 

“Matt Hitchcock and I tried our hardest to sell Ryston to them but a lot of people think running clubs are for fast runners only, so we decided to start a Facebook group to stay in contact with anyone who still wanted to meet up on Wednesdays or for anyone to post if they fancied some running company. 

“Quite a few people are now Ryston members and a couple with West Norfolk AC and realise clubs are for all people, not just the fastest.”

During lockdown, many felt their training had lost its spark as it seemed there was no end goal, so Heeley set up a solo handicap race, using Strava. 

“It was like a breath of fresh air,” he said. “There was an end goal to all the lone running and we are having one most weeks now. 

“So far we have done 5k, 10k, a mile and, this week, 10 miles. Not only has it given us a running goal, it has giving us some social banter.”

Shaun Hamer is another Ryston member who feels he has benefited from the existence of the group and the handicap initiative. 

He said: “I started my running journey in 2017 off the back of Get Into GEAR with Ryston Runners. When the sessions finished I wanted to carry on but wasn’t very motivated running alone. The Don’t Give Up group was perfect timing.”

Sessions are about an hour long and Hamer sees it as a great platform for many people to get into, and stay involved with, running. 

“When normal play resumes we should, in theory, be stronger as most of us have had more time to put the miles in,” said Hamer.

One popular event on many local runners’ calendar is the Megan’s Challenge 10K, a mainly off-road event based at Gayton on Bank holiday Monday. As the event cannot physically take place this year, a virtual platform has been set up. Details can be found at tinyurl.com/Chall10K and donations can be made at www.meganschallenge.co.uk

Ryston members seeking specific further information should contact Helen Reed.