The Start of RSE
Running Somewhere Else has entered its 14th official year as a running club in Cirencester, but club members may not know that the basis of the club was around some time before that. We still have some original club members at sessions today!
An interview with Ollie Wakefield – Founder, member and former coach
“The roots of Running Somewhere Else started as a gym running club at the old Cotswold Leisure Centre in January 2005. The plan was to set up a running club to help train for 3 events – the 5k Royal Marines Commando Challenge, 10k Royal Marines Commando Challenge and Tough Guy Nettle Warrior 2005. It was a great year with over 12 gym members and staff competing in each event raising over £500 for various charities. The success of 2005 created a lot more interest and we entered the same events for 2006 with more training on Monday and Wednesday evenings so we didn’t clash with Cirencester Athletics Club.
As popularity increased to take part in the events, we formed a partnership with the Alexcars coach company to drive us to the event in Exeter. We now boasted over 40 entries for the Commando Challenge event (although not everyone joined the training on Monday and Wednesday nights) and the buzz around the gym could be noticed. Many members talked about the events and looked at pictures from 2005 that helped promote the next event.
Very early on the running club suddenly felt like a community and it was in 2006, I met John Buck (known to some club members as ‘Bucky’). John was determined to improve on his running and find something that involved running but not on a treadmill – mainly due to 2 epic fails, one was when he stopped mid flow on the treadmill to watch something on the TV screen. I’m sure it’s when he got the winner at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
John was hooked straight away, and whilst he felt the benefits both physically and emotionally, I occasionally felt when I talked to him that his mind was wandering elsewhere and knew it wasn’t because he didn’t care. Quite the opposite, he was thinking about how much this has helped him and how it could grow.
Unfortunately things came to stand still when the leisure centre closed and we had to wait until the new leisure centre opened in 2007. After the closure of Cotswold Leisure Centre, we spoke to a neutral friend Andy Sampson (‘Sampo’), who was manager of the Somewhere Else bar in the town centre, and asked if we could use the pub as a base for the running club whilst we wait for the new leisure centre to open. He welcomed us in straight away and the following week we started training Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6pm with beers and squash served as refreshments after the running session. Obviously, we paid for the beers!
A few weeks passed and it was apparent this was becoming something quite special. No longer attached to a gym, we started to attract anyone and everyone. It was a real sociable community, great friendships were formed, runners fell in love (Alastair and Jo Wood) and it was quite obvious some healthy competition was forming with Cirencester Athletics Club.
After a few (many) drinks, John and I spoke about how to get the club affiliated in 2007 – It was pretty simple, like any community based programme, you have to form a constitution. So, the first official roles were handed out to form the constitution and I carried on my role as Head Coach.
The Jamaican style running vest was something I wanted to use to stand out and with the constitution all on board and with approval from Phillipa Sawyer to amend the Somewhere Else logo and add the runner. It was off to print to purchase our first batch of running vests for members. The credit to the name ‘Running Somewhere Else’ has to go to Craig Gill – a local osteopath, who was often part of the social setup despite not being a keen runner!”
Favourite Race and Memory?
“For me it has to be organising the St James’s Place Charity run with the local Bathurst Estate and the rest of RSE (our first running event before Fairford 10k). The club and volunteers helped organise an event that raised over £20,000 for St James’ Place Children foundation and it was a proud moment to see runners in our yellow vests taking part, some volunteering to help marshal the event and celebrate afterwards with beers at Somewhere Else bar.
My personal favourite race was Bourton 10k in 2008 – my first 10k in a yellow vest under 40 minutes.”
What I’m doing now?
“Still equally passionate about running – probably just as many miles just a lot slower.”
Jo Wood – Running in RSE’s red, yellow and black since the beginning!
“I’m one of the few still in, alongside Andy Sampson, Tracey Pitts and Sallie Clatworthy! It was the brainchild of a few notable people who used to go the gym. A group of likeminded people who wanted to run races, get quicker as well as be sociable. We used to run from the leisure centre every Wednesday night.
There are some names of note who set the ethos of the club as we know it today – John Buck who made sure we were adhering to the rules, Philippa Sawyer and Sampo, who provided the venue, club name and conviviality that is now a mainstay of the club ethos. Ollie Wakefield we can credit with the club colours and the idea of training properly, not just going for a jog! Sallie and Tracey have also done so much for the club over the years, and continue to do so!
Over the years, the challenges have got harder, quicker and further, and as the word got out and our colours were seen across town, I guess we just grew!
When Ollie hired a coach from Alexacars in 2009, we had a fab day out at Reading half. It was such fun! They parked us right by the main start – properly VIP!”
RSE, quite literally, Running Somewhere Else
Over the years, club members have entered races in all part of the world – most notably, Mark Manley, who has completed the Abbott World Marathon Majors and aims to run on every continent in the world. Another club member to have run in some interesting locations is Linda Edwards, who has run Sofia Half Marathon and Berlin marathon since she joined RSE. A club trip in 2017 to Amsterdam marathon also saw many members running their first marathon, getting sunburn and painting the town red, yellow and black!
In the upcoming reports, we plan to re-visit some of the club’s achievements all over the world, so stay tuned!
If you can see a country you’ve raced in that hasn’t been coloured on the map above, contact Ellie Taylor know – let’s see how much of the world we can colour as a club.
The club championship has been running since 2008, when club members Debbie Barrie and Barry Sampson took the trophies. There have been many winners over the years, and some who have won more than once! (We’re looking at you Sharon Smith!)
As well as the club championship, Running Somewhere Else now has the Short and Long Stuff Specialists and the Park Run Cup, designed to put all runners on an even playing field!
Club captains Elaine Chapman and David Witnall are staying up-to-date on race protocols and guidelines during the Covid pandemic. Hopefully we’ll be back racing soon!