Have you ever dreamed of having your own running club? You know actually running it. Making it something amazing. Well I have a friend called Jo who has always wanted just that and thanks to Jo’s dream, we now have an affiliated running club, the Pencoed Panthers
I met Jo in 2015, I think, well maybe even before that, we met virtually on a Facebook running page, Run Mummy Run. Jo and I live in Pencoed, in fact Jo lives about a quarter of a mile up the road from me. Once we discovered this we met up and began running together. In January 2016 Jo set up a Facebook page so we could invite other friends to run with us. Suddenly we had more than a hundred ladies on the group page and we had a regular group that would join us for our runs. We had created our very own social running group and over time became the Pencoed Panthers.
As a group the Panthers have always been very supportive of each other, if one of us was struggling to get out for a run because of childcare or were stuck in work, we’d change the time to suit all, if one of us was having a crappy day and just needed to get out and run it off, there was always someone that would go with you. Friendships quickly formed and we were entering races together. This made our group runs more structured, we started doing longer runs and effort sessions. This was of course when the idea to become affiliated began but in all honesty we weren’t ready. We would always talk about it but we never really did anything about it.
Then January this year I started a 0-5K beginners group, Straight off the couch. Suddenly we had even more women coming to our sessions. We had become a Panther army!! 30 to 40 women would turn up for the sessions and we’d do them 3 times a week. We would hear stories of how they had tried other running clubs but felt there was no support for absolute beginners or they had wanted to try running but were too scared to go it alone. We were more than happy to help, all the Panthers were now helping out in the beginner sessions and our group had tripled in size!!
So after a meeting with Run Wales I found myself at Jo’s house and we decided it was time to stop talking about it, we were going to take that giant leap from social group to affiliated club. And by gosh it wasn’t easy but it has been truly amazing!! From application forms, to constitutions, to forming committees, to designing kit and planning training sessions, it was a lot of work.
The most important thing to us as Panthers, is to support, encourage and motivate each other, we didn’t want anything to change this. We also wanted our club to grow naturally, we have a huge group of new runners who are just realising how enjoyable running is. We want to be able to help those people reach their potential. We also decided to be able to grow as a club we would like to offer membership to men, after a vote and Panther approval we now have several men who have joined and they have been a huge help with our beginners group and a great support.
I’d say the worst part of applying to become affiliated was waiting for the decision, it was all I could think of, I even dreamt that they rang to say no. After a few days of stalking Jaqueline Brace, we finally got an email on the 1st of February to say we were affiliated!! It was beyond amazing but the best part was telling Jo. Her face lit up. Her dream of bringing an affiliated running club to Pencoed had come true. Yes is was stressful, yes it was hard work but as a team we achieved something amazing and now we are quite literally the talk of the town!! People have come from all over Bridgend and even the Vale of Glamorgan to join us. So what’s next for the panthers? Well this is just the start of an amazing adventure and the skies the limit!!