Winner: Fairlands Valley Spartans
What makes a great running club? Being accessible to all ages and abilities? Being the pillar of the local running community, with success across a range of competitions and age groups? Stevenage's Fairland Valley Spartans have all this in spades.
The club formed in 1984 and has 361 members. It has a novices' group that has seen 300 new runners training with club members, and supports the Run 4 Fun initiative to get young adults running. Spartans Head Coach Chris Leigh says the groups have done brilliantly."We've seen some people go from one session a week to running half-marathons," he says. "Some even run the full marathon."
The Spartans hosted six events and series in 2009, including the Stevenage Half-Marathon, with 700 runners in November. The race has raised £20,000 for charity in the last four years. The club also helped organise two Stevenage Race For Life 5Ks last July, and helps out at the London Marathon each year. Chris Leigh says the club is proud of its ability to help runners of all abilities and disciplines, from track and field events to cross-country and ultra-marathons. It has a large coaching staff, with 25 UKA-qualified coaches. "Friendliness is a theme for us," says Leigh. "We welcome new members of whatever age, size, shape or ability."
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