Sit back, relax, grab a cuppa and some cake, and let me introduce the legendary Trail Snails Bingley to you all…
Around two years ago, I decided that I wanted to do something awesome for the local community. I’m Sam by the way, the crazy lady behind the Trail Snails idea. As I love running, and am not too bad at it, I decided that I wanted to bring running to the community.
Bingley is a very small town in West Yorkshire, just outside of Bradford. There has been a running club in Bingley for a long time, a very good one who produced the Brownlee brothers, but they don’t offer anything for beginners. So I decided that’s where I could help. I knew I couldn’t do this on my own, so roped a friend of mine, Dan, into this crazy idea. I broke the news to him in Costa one day (this is where all Trail Snails meetings take place). He laughed at first. But he knew me well, and knew that if I set my mind to something, then it will happen. Before we knew it, we were booked on training courses and I’d registered the run group with RunTogether. (RunTogether is part of England athletics, but consists of registered groups as opposed to clubs).
Trail Snails Bingley was born in May 2018 and the rest is history!
A year later, as we approach our first anniversary, we have had around 300 people run with us, held 3 couch to 5K programmes, and have made some amazing friends. We have our very own little running community as opposed to just being a load of people who run together every week. I could talk for ages about how awesome the Trail Snails are, but of course, I’d be very biased. So I’ll hand you over to some of our runners and here’s what they have to say about our fabulous group…
First up, meet Janet Daykin. Janet joined us for our very first Couch to 5K last June and she’s run with Trail Snails ever since…
“Almost 12 months ago I saw the first sessions for Trail Snails advertised on Facebook and decided I’d give running a go. Really, I thought I’d run a little, walk a lot, and after a couple of weeks or so realise I’d reached my full potential. But our leaders, Sam and Dan, weren’t ready to let me quit so easily. They convinced me if I persevered I could manage a 5k parkrun within eight weeks. It seemed impossible to me, but I can honestly say the first week was the hardest.
As the oldest one in this initial group of Snails I was never left behind, or made to feel slow, I had nothing but encouragement, often from people running twice as fast or far as me. It really is incredible to experience the support within this group.
And after eight weeks we did run our first 5k park run. I was last back – but everyone stayed at the finishing line to cheer until we were all back. And that’s how it is, we all support each other. Finishing a parkrun was amazing for me. Many years ago, I was diagnosed with angina and had a stent fitted. I was happy that I walked a lot and considered myself reasonably fit. But at my annual heart review my doctor suggested challenging myself by seeing if I could run. Amazingly after seven months running two to three times a week my heart rate and blood pressure had reduced significantly. My cholesterol was also down, as was my pre-diabetic marker, which was no longer dangling just below pre-diabetic. My weight was down too, and knowing the only change I had made was to take up running I know how beneficial it has been to my life.
Downloading Strava I found another ally. Not only does it map my runs and encourages me, but gets me home when I’ve run into unfamiliar territory, I shouldn’t do it, but I do! So far, I’ve used it around Europe and Thailand and closer to home for London and Devon parkruns when I’ve been away. And, of course, locally to motivate myself. It’s great to see other Snails ‘following me’ and I love to ‘follow them’ to see where they are running and how fast. Even if I’m not out with the group I feel to be part of it.
Snails aren’t just about running – we’ve had some lovely social events too – in fact most events turn into socials as there is often coffee and cake involved! But a special time for me was our social in December when awards were given. I won ‘Most determined runner 2018’ – always back of the pack but never gives up. And that thought keeps me going often when I really want to give up. So, if you think you can’t run just give it a go, you just might surprise yourself and feel better, happier and fitter for doing so Hope to see you along at a parkrun or Snails session soon!”
And here’s Deb Jeffrey. She joined us on our recent Couch to 5K programme and has now started entering races..
“Hi I’m Deb, 47 married for 18 years and Mum to 22 year old Harry and 7 year old Alf, a Cockapoo rescue dog! Full time dental hygienist for 25 years, 16 handicapper at golf and first team tennis player…sounds all good but until I met the Snails couldn’t run to the loo!!!
A year ago I swore I would run in the Manorlands Keighley 5k this year. You can hear the finishers being called in to the finish from my bedroom window and thought “ I want to do that”!! I dabbled running a bit on my own , clearly it was a disaster and carried on feeling failure when I saw runners running, laughing, chatting!!
At Christmas fuelled with a little ‘seasonal cheer’ I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and bang there it was the eureka post, the lightbulb posting, the answer… Trail Snails couch to 5k!!!
“ I’m doing that” I announced to the family little dry smirks passed their lips!!!
Fully signed up I joined the group in Bingley 1st week of January and the 7 week process began, 2 times a week with the group and a weekly little ‘shuffle’ on my own. Masses of support from Dan and Sam the leaders but also the patient established runners already in the group. I never ran alone, I never thought “I can’t do this”, I never wanted to stop, and I actually looked forward to the group meetings. All sorts of people joined the process from all walks of life and friendships were born!
By the last Saturday in February we all signed up for the 5k Myrtle parkrun and ALL of us successfully ran with huge support from our greatest fans …the snail family.
I now run once a week with the Snails , with a friend AND on my own.. who’d have thought me running non-stop! I’ve lost a few pounds, gained some new friends and met a goal I’d never thought I’d reach.
Oh and I did run in the Manorlands 5k on Mother’s Day this year!! Non-stop.”
Janette Bolton also joined us on our recent Couch to 5K programme and she too now has the running bug…
“Last summer I turned the big 50. Other mile stone birthdays passed me by as I had just had babies. But this one bothered me…
I was the heaviest I’d been not that I was fat but not my usually skinny Minnie (I’m lucky got skinny genes off my mum). I was drinking too much wine and eating too much cheese.
I tried the couch to 5km by myself before Xmas I couldn’t run from my house too Bingley Grammar without stopping, I was disgusted. I have an active job and walk all over so how was I so unfit… ?
I took the plunge to join Trail snails after Christmas which caused a laugh in my household, I can tell you! Well the rest history… Sam and Dan are lovely and encouraging as you all know. Dan usually hangs about at the back of the group with us ladies who aren’t quick as the other ladies I sometimes feel for him listening to us twittering on.
I’ve met some lovely people, gained some friends and I can now run 5km some days dare I say quite comfortably.
I try and run 5km 3 times a week. Once with the group, once and my own and the Myrtle Park run which I hope one day I will do 5km in 30mins. I ran 33mins this Saturday so getting there slowly .
My favourite run was the Keighley 5km I just seemed to glide round I loved it. The hardest was the St Ives 5km scuffle. I ran like an old cart horse. I ran some of the way with a lovely lady from Harden Hobblers we got chatting (moaning) as all the fast runner zoomed pasted us her quote was Well, we might be slow, but we are faster than all them in people still in bed. I remember that when I’m struggling.
My future runs Jo’s 5km run, Race for life Lister park, Bolton Abbey summer solstice and York 10km (OMG yes, I’m going to give it a go).
So, thanks to trails snails I have a new interest, made new friends at the front and back of the group, got reasonably fit and I drink a lot less wine than I used to (now I’m an athlete got watch what I’m drinking). I’m up at 7am most Saturdays without a foggy head to run Myrtle parkrun.
I look at medals and t-shirts like other ladies look at shoes. I have a drawer full of running clothes now. But still wouldn’t say I’m a runner yet. Even though I can run 5km faster than my kids!
I’ll finish by saying Thanks to Yvonne she ran a lot with me on C25K, she’s usually shouting encouragement at Myrtle parkrun and turns up Marshalling everywhere.”
Julie Deacon also joined us on the Couch to 5K programme and she recently completed the Keighley 10K…
“So, a little bit about me – 50yr old single mum with 2 daughters aged 18 and 22 working full time for WYP. I’ve always had an interest in eating relatively healthy (not all the time) and also in trying to keep fit. This has previously mainly consisted of joining, and then leaving, various gyms – taking part in various classes, getting bored and then leaving! I have started to ‘run’ a few times, even attempted the couch to 5k, but have never managed to complete it. Fitness for me has mainly consisted of walking my 2 young spaniel dogs 3 or 4 times a day.
Towards the end of last year, I had my annual fitness test looming and told a friend at work that I needed to ‘get running’. She – Becky W – told me about this running group in Bingley she had joined and that I should join too. I was adamant it wasn’t for me – mainly because of my fear of being too unfit to keep up, and as a result feeling ridiculous. Much as she persisted, I kept ignoring her. Finally, prior to Xmas she told me about the couch to 5k plan the group were doing and convinced me it would be ideal for me as ‘everyone is in the same boat’. As a result, I sent my request to join the Trail Snails and signed up to the couch to 5k – and honestly how glad am I that I did!
It is only down to the fantastic spirit of the group leaders, Sam and Dan, and all the other members that I have got ‘the running bug’. Every single person is so supportive, no one ever feels inadequate or a hindrance and most importantly no one is ever left to run on their own. We all run at our own pace which is brilliant. I am not, and never will be, the world’s fastest runner but this group is not only a way of getting fitter but also, for me, a social event. I can hand on heart say I would encourage anyone to come and join Trail Snails – you will make lots of new friends and thoroughly enjoy yourselves.”
And finally over to Julie Patterson. Julie was already an experienced runner when she joined Trail Snails. When we started the group, it became apparent that it wasn’t just beginners who wanted to join Trail Snails, so we started Social runs too, and now these groups are HUGE! Here’s Julie’s experience…
“I’m Julie and I started running with Trail Snails in November 2018. I was already doing some running- mainly parkrun and the occasional 10k race- but ran alone and I was struggling a little to keep motivated.
I ran 3 half marathons a long while ago, then I had to stop running around 7 years ago for health reasons. In 2015, I managed to start running again by going to parkrun. I was reluctant to ever join a running club as felt I wouldn’t be good enough, but when I heard about Trail Snails, I realised that this wouldn’t matter, that everyone is welcome, whether you are already running, or just starting out.
Joining Trail Snails has given me a new enjoyment of running. To enter a race, and have fellow snails supporting each other all the way round, to making new friends and seeing more of older friends, to never feel as though you might hold the group back, to see the newer runners achieve amazing things- their first 5k, and then their first 10k.
The support from Sam and Dan as leaders, in encouraging us all, is what makes the social runs such good fun- even the hills!
I can’t wait for the events and races still to come this year- knowing that the sea of blue Snails will all be cheering for each other.”
As Trail Snails reaches its first anniversary, I decided it would be a good idea to start this blog so we can all look back on our amazing achievements, so each blog post will be brought to you by some of our awesome runners. We hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoy running, hills in particular 🙂 Until next time…