Members of the all-female running club, Women’s Running @ E14, were among the very first participants to run The Big Half.
The Mile End running club, in Tower Hamlets, has welcomed hundreds of local women to running sessions in and around the area since its creation ten years ago, including long-time member Laura Matthews.
She says: “I only really got into running when I joined the club about eight years ago. I saw it as a cheap way of getting fit, but I actually really enjoy it and the social side of it, and I think that’s true of a lot of women at the club. It’s more of a social club that helps us all to keep fit and improve our running.”
Laura has been inspired by The Big Half and her fellow club members in recent months, particularly when the cold and wet weather would normally have encouraged her to stay home.
“It’s good to have a club in the winter because that’s the time you don’t want to go out and run on your own, especially as a woman,” she says. “’I’m enjoying all the training; having something to force me to go out for that extra run that I normally wouldn’t do. And with most of us signed up to run The Big Half, there’s always someone happy to come for a training run so that’s been nice.”
The club welcome women of all ages and abilities to join them on Monday evenings, and many of the members enjoy the fact that it’s an all-female club, making it a safe and friendly environment to enjoy some exercise and improve your fitness.
Laura says: “You can be competitive but it’s probably more with yourself rather than with other members of the club. We do have different standards so you can always improve within the club, but I think in some ways women-only is a bit less threatening to other women, especially if you’re relatively new to running or don’t think you’re very fast.”
And with so many of the members running together on 4 March, Laura has seen the benefit of a new running event aimed at engaging the local community.
“It’s definitely helped our group have a focus and encouraged us to do more running. There are other half marathons but they’re generally quite expensive and that does tend to put people off so to be able to sign up to The Big Half as part of a community group is quite appealing,” says Laura. “It’s given those of us who wouldn’t normally do a half marathon that bit of extra encouragement to give it a go. It’s definitely helped within our club to get people running more.”