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Stowmarket Striders Running Club win Club of the Year East award

Stowmarket Striders Running Club ended a testing year for members on a high after being named Club of the Year East at a virtual England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards.

The annual event celebrates the amazing contribution of athletics and running volunteers across the country and, for 2020, showcasing their vital contribution in helping navigate the sport through the impacts of Covid-19.

The judges gave the award to short-listed Stowmarket, ahead of runners-up Norfolk Gazelles, saying: “A friendly and welcoming club, it goes above and beyond to put on training and events that are completely inclusive regardless of age, ability or gender.

Stowmarket Striders, pictured at a Friday 5 event last year, have been named Club of the Year East at the England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards 2020
Stowmarket Striders, pictured at a Friday 5 event last year, have been named Club of the Year East at the England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards 2020

“All club sessions cater for all abilities and coaches are split at every session to provide sessions to groups of runners based on current ability. This is done by allowing the runners to put themselves into the appropriate group based on their current 5k time.

“Beginners are welcomed to the club on a trial basis free of charge before joining.

“They have weekly meetings before a session where peoples’ achievements in all categories are celebrated and certificates are presented to those who have earned club standards.

“All members are encouraged to volunteer both at sessions and as marshalls, race directors and support at races and events: training courses are open to all members who wish to take on a voluntary role with the club.

“Coaches also offer free training plans, support and advice at an individual level.

“During Covid-19, the club continued to provide weekly structured training sessions via email and has also put on some competitive events.”

Coaches Paul Heeks and Chris Starmer accepted the award on behalf of the club earlier this month on a Zoom call.

The club organises many running events in the local community, including the Robert Tomlinson Half Marathon, Stowmarket Friday 5 (Part of J.M. Finn Friday 5 Series), Scenic 7 and provides one of the Suffolk Winter league XC fixtures.

The club meets Tuesday and Thursday nights all year round and on Sunday mornings for cross country training in the winter. They also host regular social runs, which encourages members to improve their mental health and wellbeing through running.

Club chairman Rachel Oakley said: “It is really uplifting after this difficult and unprecedented year for Stowmarket Striders to receive this award.

“It is testament to the dedication and hard work of the committee and coaches together with the unparalleled support of our members in recent years.

“We are continuing our full program of training, following our Covid-19 action plan, and look forward to the start of live races again when possible.”

She also added new members are always welcome to join the club and anyone interested should visit their website here.

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