WERR making valuable strides with strong ethos

Sunday 17th April 2022

We love turning the spotlight on our clubs and the great work which is going on to gather momentum and inspire growth in our sport.

Our Club in Focus occasional series does exactly that and, over the next few Sundays, we intend to promote a few more clubs – this week we look at West End Road Runners in Glasgow . . .

By Katy Barden

Values are fundamental beliefs that guide our behaviour but, without purpose, they are empty words.

When West End Road Runners (WERR) was set up in 2016, the club’s founding members grasped the opportunity to create meaningful values – accessibility, inclusivity, and transparency – that would underpin their actions.

‘It was one of the first things we did,’ said chairman Graeme Jack.

‘The clubs around us are long established and highly regarded, so there was no point in trying to replicate what they did.

‘We started off with a fairly simple set of principles; the main principle being that we needed to be runner-centric. We looked at the runners in the area and we built our club for them.’

WERR – winners of our Innovation Award at the 2021 4J Studios scottishathletics Annual Awards – has grown from between 10 to 15 members at launch to around 130 (Senior section only).

‘We felt an existential threat as a result of the pandemic, but we were determined to get through it,’ admitted Jack, who credits the club’s creative, community-inspired activity for growing its numbers.

‘At the time, we saw that Strava had done research that indicated that mental health, perhaps to an even greater extent than physical health, was a motivation for a lot of the running community.

‘That research came out at a time when we were trying to work out what to do, and it galvanised us . . . if we were going to do anything during that period of uncertainty, it was to take care of people’s mental health and well-being.’

With the country in lockdown, WERR adapted to ensure that its members could stay motivated and engaged.

The club built a strength and conditioning programme called WERRtual that was delivered on Zoom. They also launched WERRopoly, an innovative and inclusive digital challenge that focused on mental health and well-being as well as physical fitness.

Members got involved by running around Glasgow’s west end, choosing their own pace and distance, or by completing special challenges.

Members were also challenged to create a west end heat map by attempting to run every street and lane in the west end of Glasgow.

The concept evolved to form a running guide where members were asked to run and map their favourite routes.

The publication, ‘Run Glasgow’s West End’ was subsequently sold and raised around £2000 for Scotstoun foodbank. It is now incorporated into WERR’s new member induction pack.

WERR’s values and community engagement activity have helped to attract members, but initiatives such as the club’s buddy system encourage new members to stay.

‘It’s very intentional how we pitch ourselves,’ added Graeme.

‘It’s not just about the words, but about action as well. If people come to try you out, you want them to stay with you. We’re quite keen to make sure that happens.

‘We see some of the friendships growing from that initial two-week period, people who had never met each other before but develop as close friends, and we love to see that.’


The club has also invested to ensure that its model is resilient and scalable, and during 2021, 22 WERR members completed UK Athletics’ Leadership in Running Fitness course, enabling the provision of safe, well-structured sessions for its members under the guidance of head coach Colin Thomas.

A further six members have just completed the Coaching in Running Fitness course to support the club’s ambition to enhance its coaching capability across different running surfaces.

‘In the most challenging of Covid circumstances, WERR has played a key role in supporting the physical and mental health of its members whilst maintaining a strong community which recognises effort above all,’ concluded the chairman.

‘I am very proud of the achievements of the club and its members, and I see a strong appetite and desire to maintain our unique culture and values which have served us so well since 2016.’



Tags: Club in Focus, Graeme Jack, West End Road Runners

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