Alan and Sue Bothwell (photo by Richard Wilkins courtesy of the Perthshire Advertiser)
By Matt Gallagher, Perthshire Advertiser
There is often a perception that you need to be at elite level to join a running club.
And at times that very thought may have stopped certain people from taking the first step and signing up.
But Perth Road Runners are keen to stress that they will always offer a friendly welcome to anyone interested in getting involved.
Two current members who are thrilled they decided to see what all the fuss was about are Alan and Sue Bothwell.
Alan (62), who admits himself he is not the fastest by any stretch of the imagination, has never looked back since first reaching out to the club in 2017.
‘Five or six years ago I started running again,’ explained Alan.
‘I put a little bit of weight on and, when into my 50s, I thought I better do something about my health.
‘I was getting a little better and decided to take it to the next level by joining Perth Road Runners. I’d known about the club, but never thought I was good enough.
‘I got in touch and asked about joining a slower group.
‘I’m not one of the fastest, never have been. But I’ve always enjoyed aerobic exercise and distance running especially.
‘I like the feeling of relaxation that it brings and the feeling of wellbeing after you have trained. The club has been very encouraging and there will always be a group for you.’
Perth Road Runners (photo via Facebook)
Soon Alan found himself venturing off across the country to take part in a wide range of events. Again, he was keen to point out that these events were not solely confined to elite athletes.
‘Joining a club gives you all sorts of opportunities to find out about different events,’ Alan explained.
‘Events ranging from the 5k parkrun down at the North Inch every week to marathons and ultra-marathons. I’ve not quite gone that far.
‘But you find your level and you always have your friendly rivals that you like to race. There is the friendly competition.
‘I even had an ambition to take part in cross country.
‘They do have a little bit of an elite side to them. But there are plenty of plodders like me. We get lapped, but it doesn’t matter. Even at my level it is competitive.
‘I’ve managed to run some pretty decent times. Sometimes you get into a little bit of a lull but you always strive to get better.’
There remained a determination to improve last year, despite the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic completely changing the sporting landscape. A March lockdown resulted in the cancellation of events and club training sessions in person.
Alan recalled: ‘The club’s activities were ended overnight, races were cancelled and parkrun was cancelled.
‘But the club set up a virtual challenge. We couldn’t run together, but we would run a 5k on our own and send in the times.
‘That kept a lot of us going and we had something to work towards. It was a great help for us.’
Perth Road Runners featured in our PB magazine back in 2017
What also keeps Alan on his toes is the rivalry with partner Sue.
‘Sue joined the club about a year later than I did,’ Alan said. ‘I’m sure that happened in our 20s as well.
‘She often wins and has the bragging rights. I use that as motivation, too. I want to beat her and it spurs us on.’
With further lockdown restrictions imposed earlier this month, the majority of sporting activity has been put on hold again.
A maximum of two people from two separate households can still meet outdoors for sport or exercise.
Many across the region may be getting back into a routine of running to maintain fitness through the early months of 2021.
Photo courtesy of Richard Wilkins of the Perthshire Advertiser
‘I’d say to people to not give up,’ he said.
‘But don’t push yourself too hard because that’s a mistake some people make.
‘When things get back to normal, I am sure we will have a lot of different races and there will be something for everyone.
‘We have some fantastic social events as well. We just have a great time. If you’ve started running during lockdown, give us a try.
‘I would definitely recommend the club. We are a friendly bunch.’
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