Ladies hit their stride to reach their fundraising goal

The latest recruits of the Hospice Running Group recently completed their 5km goal. Picture (c) Vicki Head

The latest recruits of the Hospice Running Group recently completed their 5km goal. Picture (c) Vicki Head

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Ten weeks ago, 15 very anxious ladies met in the centre of Berkhamsted; they were total strangers but all shared the same goal – to run 5km at the end of November and raise money for charity

And last month on the coldest and wettest Saturday of the year, they conquered their fears and reached their goal by completing the Parkrun in Aylesbury – all under 45 minutes.

The ladies, ranging in age from their 20s to 70s, are the latest recruits to the highly successful Hospice Running Group which was started by local solicitor Paul Owen in 2014 as a unique way to raise funds for The Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted.

“Sadly from personal experience I know what great work the Hospice movement does and had run loads of races to raise funds but wanted to think of a fresh approach,” said Paul.

The result was a weekly training session where Paul asked runners for a donation, “and incredibly we have now raised over £7,000,” he said, adding that last Wednesday, 26 men and women squelched their way around a very soggy Northchurch Common.

“Interest has been amazing but an increasing number of people who had never run before said they wanted to get fit and raise money so I enlisted the help of Erica and Heather to start a beginners’ course,” Paul continued.

Local runners and qualified coaches, Erica Carter and Heather Harris were only too pleased to take up the challenge. “We had all these great advertising plans but just through word of mouth we soon had filled up our 15 places,” said Erica. “We charged just £3 a week and every penny went to the Hospice.”

One of the first to sign up was Louise Bednall, who said: “I had always wanted to run but needed the incentive to get going. I knew I wouldn’t do it on my own and was always too intimidated to join a running club until I heard about this course.”

She completed the Aylesbury 5k in 36 minutes and was delighted, adding: “The first week we all ran 90 seconds and thought that was hard! We just built it up each week and it was actually really fun – everyone was so supportive that we are now going to carry on running together.”

A sentiment echoed by Josie Birnie, who said: “I never felt good enough to join the original Wednesday group so I joined this beginners’ course and felt amazing when I crossed the line at Aylesbury – I now have the running bug!”

The next Hospice Beginners Course starts on Tuesday, January 12 for 10 weeks. It costs £3 per week with every penny going to the Hospice of St Francis. For more information, contact Heather Harris on 07881993751 or email h.a.harris@btopenworld.com