On a cold (freezing), crisp (freezing), Thursday evening in January, Inksplott popped along to the Old Splott Library to grab an interview with the Girls Together Splott Running Group.
If this group of girls can run in this weather, I thought to myself, the least I can do is walk to the end of my road and see what it’s all about. Plus I received a very nice thermal hat for Christmas that needed a trial run. I was not disappointed (in the group or the hat).
Lucy Marland leads the group, which started in September 2015 off the back of a Sport Cardiff programme encouraging women to start jogging and/or get into sport. Initially intended to be Cardiff-wide, Splott was not the first group established but does have the illustrious title of being the only one left running (pardon the pun).
Lucy and the rest of the girls were kind enough to spare a few minutes before setting off to provide an interview:
Inksplott: Thanks for the interview Lucy. Was there a particular reason behind an all-female group?
Lucy: It was really down to creating social groups, it wasn’t about exclusion; to bring women together, create that social group and to form friendships as well. It may also be encouraging or suitable for some groups or individuals who don’t want to exercise with men.
Inksplott: When and where do you meet?
Lucy: At the Old Splott Library at 6.15pm every Thursday.
Inksplott: What route do you take?
Lucy: We normally run down to the bay but tonight we’re just going to do a nice little local one just to see because I know that we have some new members tonight, so we’ll see how everyone gets on.
Inksplott: You run down to the bay and back??? (Thinking, ‘that’s bloomin MILES!’)
Lucy: Normally, but there are a few little cut-offs, so we have a 5K route, a 6K and a 7K so it depends on what everyone fancies doing. We progress then each week. We started off in the September with people who had never run before, so it was a gradual pick-up to see how they progressed and then we set ourselves targets. Our first target was a 5K, which was the Elf run in the bay, then in the March we did a 10K in Bute Park, so we’ve done organised runs that we’ve done together, which have been good.
Inksplott: What if somebody comes and they’ve never run before? They might be daunted by the prospect of a first run down to the bay. If you have a new member, do you make concessions and go on a smaller run?
Lucy (to the background laughter of the group, who have obviously been there before): Tonight, because people have got in touch with me and I know we have new members, and we’re all coming off the back of Christmas, I have a smaller run planned just to ease ourselves in gently. Also, the route that we have done down to the bay has different cut-backs on it and I would always stay with the newer runners as the people who have done it before know the way they’re going and then we can all meet back here together.
Inksplott: Do you have to pay to take part?
Lucy: It’s £2 per person per session but the first one is free.
Inksplott: Do you do other activities? You mentioned the 10K in Bute Park – do you sign up as a group to things like Muddy Funsters (or whatever they’re called)?
Lucy: I don’t personally but I know that a few of the girls have. We try to sign up to one race together or set one race together a year. It was the St David’s 10k that we did last year.
Inksplott: Why do people join the group, do you think? Actually, I’ll ask the girls!
Beatrice Roberts: It’s the social element. If I run on my own, I keep stopping and walking, but if I’m in a group, you’re chatting and you don’t even know you’re running.
Karen Worthey: I started as a really bad new year’s resolution and I’m still coming back a year later!
Holly Taylor: This is my first one!
Inksplott: Good luuuuuuck!
Heather Lewis: This is my first time as well!
Inksplott: Also good luck!
Ali Pritchard: Mine’s because I feel it’s less pressure than a “proper” running club where it’s, however much membership and lots of people that you think are going to start by running 10Ks, but this is less pressure and a bit nicer and I can come and go as I please and it fits better into work.
Inksplott: Thanks ladies! Can you tell me what’s with the snazzy leggings?
Lucy: We did have bright pink T-Shirts but they weren’t suitable for running in, so we thought ‘everybody likes funky leggings!’ and Christine, one of our members, knows someone who designs specific ones (Power of Greyskull) so we thought we’d go for nice bright pink and black pattern ones!
Inksplott: So are any of the members not from Splott?
Lucy: A few. We have one who lives in Canton and one from Barry but she works in Splott (Inksplott: you don’t have to live in Splott to participate but it’s well handy if you do).
Inksplott: So how many of you are there on an average run?
Lucy: Around what we have here now (two other members, Sian and Sara have joined in the last few minutes).
Inksplott: Around eight. Do you go out and socialise at all, or is drinking against the grain of running (these puns just won’t stop coming!)?
Girls: Much laughter.
Lucy: We had our first social before Christmas and I know that some of the members went to a local quiz.
Inksplott: Ahem hem, methinks that may have been the Keep Splott Tidy Fundraiser at The Cottage – awesome! Erm, what’s your funniest interaction with someone when you’ve been out running?
Karen: A young lad started running along with us once.
Inksplott: how long did he last?
Karen: Not long!
Lucy: So the idea when we started was that we were going to meet in Moorland Park and run around the park, but it’s a big favourite with dog walkers and we seem to attract puppies and they kind of attach themselves to your feet!
Inksplott: Aw, cute and not-so-cute at the same time! So you’re inside the Old Library now – I thought you met outside?
Lucy: We meet inside if the building is open (sometimes there are other clubs running). We meet outside when we come back from our run.
Inksplott: What time are you usually back here by?
Karen (very quickly): Half past seven.
Inksplott (laughs): That’s better! And what should people wear and bring?
Lucy: Something warm at the moment, high-vis if they have it, definitely trainers – suitable footwear is essential. If people don’t have anything high-vis, I will be able to get some high-vis jackets.
Inksplott: What about a water bottle?
Lucy: If you want to bring a water bottle or think you’ll need a water bottle then bring one. I bring a bag with me with a phone, first aid kit and I can put car keys in there too. If the participant has asthma, inhalers are a must.
Inksplott: Well thank you for your time ladies. Good luck on your run. Can we please grab a piccie outside in the cold and dark to show how hardcore you are? Ta very much.
I get the feeling that these girls get a lot out of this group and it feels like a fun activity; the amount of giggling that went on throughout the interview kind of makes me want to join them. Maybe next time ladies, maybe next time.
To find out more or get in touch with Lucy, visit the Facebook page here
To find out more about Sport Cardiff, click here