At the Bucks & MK Sports Awards on Friday 18th November, we were presented with the prestigious “Club of the Year” Award. The occasion was held at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury and our longest serving members, Club Secretary, Terry Penny, and Beginners’ Run Leader, Jane Smith proudly accepted the plaque on our behalf.
After nominations closed, only 3 clubs were short-listed and we found ourselves up against Marlow Tennis Club and Olney Rugby Club, both excellent, vibrant clubs themselves – don’t be surprised if we see them winning the award in coming years.
Steve Redgrave, one of Britain’s most successful Olympians, was inducted into the Sporting Hall of Fame on the night and Amy Williams, gold medal winner at the Vancouver winter Olympics in 2010, was guest speaker at the dinner. All-in-all it was an exciting evening and Terry and Jane have many great memories which they’ll be only too happy to share with you. (Terry hasn’t stopped smiling and showing the plaque to club members, and anyone else he can find, for the past 5 days!).
Of course, our success is not just down to the hard work of the committee in developing the club over the past 3 years, but is due, in large part, to the many contributions that so many members have made in making us a friendly, vibrant and welcoming club. Take a look at our written submission below and bear in mind that it is our all-inclusive, supportive philosophy that makes us what we are – the Club of the Year!
What makes this an excellent club?
We are a club whose basic philosophy is to get people into and enjoying our sport regardless of their ability. We welcome everyone, whether they be complete beginners or dedicated runners who run marathons virtually every week. One of our strengths is the wide variety we offer on club nights, from the many different routes through the countryside in Summer and the local streets in Winter, including torchlight runs through the parks and woods, together with regular fitness sessions including hill work, intervals, bleep tests and track sessions.
We also have a dedicated “Beginners’ Night” every Tuesday, specifically aimed at those who have just taken up running, regularly attracting over 15 people each session.
Whilst our emphasis is very much on running as an enjoyable and social sport, we encourage members to raise their aspirations and strive to improve their performance. To this end we have two club championships where members enter at least 5 local races from a list of around 13 in order to be considered – one simply based on times and a second based on age-related performance. There’s a handicap competition giving so-called slower runners an opportunity to really compete with faster ones; and perhaps most importantly, there’s a chance to achieve our coveted “Club Standards” – see next section.
And all for a membership fee of just £10/12 a year.
What has been the impact of being an excellent club?
This has led the club developing from a small group of 10-15 people meeting up and deciding where to run on a week-by-week basis in 2013 into a vibrant club of over 120 members in 2016 – an increase of 40 in the past year alone.
As mentioned above, the chance to achieve our “club standards” of gold, silver or bronze (based on WAVA (age-related) times in a number of races of varying distances), has led to members of all ages and abilities entering races at distances they would never have dreamed of attempting (to achieve gold, for example, members have to get a WAVA score of 60% at 5 different distances one of which must be a marathon). And this year, we have had to introduce a platinum standard to raise the bar even higher!
Furthermore, this year alone, our club shirt has been worn at over 60 different events (as at August), from as far afield as Sydney, New York, Helsinki and the Faroe Islands to name but a few.
Another result of our increasing membership has been the need for more coaches and leaders, and this year we have sent 3 more people on the Leaders in Running Fitness Course and two on the Coach in Running Fitness Course.
How has the club linked with the local community and appropriate initiatives and programmes?
The club has been instrumental in establishing Buckingham parkrun. Four of its members are Run Directors and now over 100 have participated in the event – many on a regular basis. Indeed, the club has clocked up the highest number of individual parkruns in the event’s 24 month history. We are also developing links with other running clubs, arranging runs, training sessions and socials together.
We also attend and support the Buckingham leisure centre’s customer forum.
This October we are helping with the “green spaces” initiative, setting up a new beginners session during the day aimed at getting more people active and into running.
We are also planning our own race event – the Buckingham Half Marathon, to be held in May 2017, the proceeds from which will be donated to local charities.
This year we have initiated a programme of helping the local, non-running community, having participated in the “Clean for the Queen” campaign, the “River Rinse” and decorated the local scout hut.
Our members also raise significant amounts of money when participating in running events, either through sponsorship or entrance fees.
What makes the club so special for members?
Whilst our emphasis is on running as an enjoyable and social sport, we encourage everyone to raise their aspirations and strive to improve their performance. Members are extremely supportive of and encouraging to each other, offering to accompany or pace slower runners in events and help them towards their goals with bespoke training programmes.
Members views are regularly sought, via surveys and emails, specifically to ascertain the extent to which the club is meeting their needs and aspirations. This has resulted in the club taking up suggestions from members. For example, in May we organised our first club trip, to Liverpool, with 20 members participating in the Rock n Roll half and full marathons; and in October we are due to join the Chiltern cross-country league.
At the beginning of each year, we hold our AGM giving members the chance to raise any issues or make suggestions as to how the club can improve further, also asking them to nominate the events that are to be included in the Club Championship. This is followed by our Awards Night where we celebrate the numerous achievements of our members, distributing medals and certificates, not just to the Club Champions, but also in categories such as the most improved runner, beginner of the year and Member of the Year.
One only need visit our Facebook page to appreciate what our members think of their club.