Here at Run Wales, we love hearing your individual stories and celebrating people and groups who run, jog and walk their way to a more active lifestyle. We’re proud to share the story of Edd’s Eagles Abertillery Group Leader, Hayley Edwards, who’s been on her own unique running journey over the past few years.
Hayley set up the social running group Edd’s Eagles Abertillery with her husband Gareth back in 2016, after both found a love for running along their inspirational weight loss journeys, in which Hayley lost 12 stone and Gareth lost 4 stone in weight. Hayley says; “Along my weight loss journey, I took up exercise and found a love for running. With Gareth’s help and encouragement, I started the Couch to 5k – and have since gone on to complete ten half marathons and numerous 10k and 5k fun runs”.
Based on her own experience and individual journey, Hayley decided she wanted to offer others within her community the opportunity to get active through running and started the initial stages of setting up a social running group. “When deciding to set up a social running group, our main aim was to provide somewhere where people who had very little or no experience of running could go and enjoy getting fit and healthy through running. The group started out by simply meeting up at the local park for the first few weeks, and as our numbers began to grow we were offered a regular meeting place by the local Leisure Centre”
With the help of Community Chest funding and support from Communities First, Hayley and Gareth attended Welsh Athletics LiRF (Leadership in Running Fitness) courses and became Run Leaders for the Edd’s Eagles group. They have since been able to enrol members of the group on to LiRF courses, resulting in the group’s ability to offer Couch 2 5K programmes along with intermediate and advanced sub-groups within Edd’s Eagles for runners of varied abilities.
Due to the growth of Edd’s Eagles Abertillery, LiRF trained group members have now set up a second branch of the group in Brynmawr, called Edd’s Eagles Brynmawr. Hayley commented; “A few months ago fellow group members Rob and Shell helped us set up a second social running group in Brynmawr. We currently have approximately 25 runners attending every week, and I couldn’t be prouder of every one of them and their achievements. I’m so pleased to be able to offer a free social running group, led by volunteers, that not only helps people out physically but also mentally – aiding with mental health problems like depression and anxiety.”
There is much more to the group than simply turning up and running together however, with Hayley quick to praise the social aspect that has been fostered by the group’s members; “We not only meet up and run together in the week, we meet up to do parkrun’s together, and often stay around to socialise after running. Next month, we have almost 30 Edd’s Eagles members running the Cardiff Half Marathon, and we’re going to be taking a bus full of 50 supporters to cheers them on and support the event! Edd’s Eagles has been created by the community, for the community and I want to thank every one of its members and volunteers who’ve helped make the group a success.”
Run Wales Activator for South East Wales, Hannah Phillips praised Hayley and Gareth’s work with Edd’s Eagles, saying; “Both Hayley and Gareth are truly amazing champions. Edd’s Eagles is exactly what Run Wales is about – inspiring, encouraging and lots of fun. It was a pleasure to be involved with the initial set up of the group, and I’m proud to see what they have gone on to become since then.”
Hayley’s story is a fantastic example of what being a Run Leader is all about – finding happiness and enjoyment through being active and sharing that enjoyment with other individuals. Hayley’s journey has taken her from someone who hadn’t contemplated running, to being a regular runner who set up her own social running group and became a LiRF trained Run Leader. Hayley’s passion and enthusiasm has benefitted many individuals within her community, and we’re delighted to support the great work that she continues to do with Edd’s Eagles.
Interested in becoming a Run Leader or starting your own social running group? Click here