The Power of the Athletics Club

November 28, 2023

Community is the glue that holds Athletics Clubs together. The foundations of every club around the country and beyond is the community it lives in. The people are the Athletics Club.

In every conversation I have had in my time at Run Republic, the importance of community is the one constant in all of them. From the Lakeshore Striders in Blessington to Ballycastle AC in North Mayo, community is paramount.

Dundrum AC's John Moore
Dundrum AC's John Moore at the Park Run 5k in Warwickshire with his daughter and her friends.

Back in September, Deirdre from the Lakeshore Striders told me that ‘We have a great ethos of community within ourselves, and we encourage people whether you’re 20 or you’re in your 50’s or in your 70’s, it’s just such an inclusive club. The ethos is that everybody has a running buddy, and nobody is left last.’

Laura of Bandon AC told me a couple of months ago that ‘our thinking of the club is to give all individuals an opportunity to compete and enjoy the sport or event they are competing in.’

Michael from Ballycastle AC once told me, ‘If I didn't have the community feel I would have nothing’ and that really sums it up.

When I spoke to Irene from the HOPE Recovery Runners, I learned that their whole club is also built off the back of their ready-made community and everybody pitching in to help each other. Running has provided a whole new aspect to their charity, and their runs are “not just for people in recovery from addiction, everybody’s welcome.”

HOPE Recovery Runners
HOPE Recovery Runners

Your local Athletics Club is a gateway to new friendships. People who you may never have met before suddenly become a running buddy and you see them every week. I refer back to my conversation with Deirdre, and she told me a powerful story about a woman who joined the Blessington Striders and after two weeks she told Deirdre ‘I've made more friends in two weeks in the club than I have in the last two years’. That’s what it’s about.

The physical benefits are of course one of the main reasons people join an Athletics Club in the first place. Whether you want to get in shape or stay in shape, you have a local club in your community where everybody is on a similar journey to you. 

'It's not just alone for fitness, it's mental well being. It's been able to deal with situations easily and walk away from it or dissolve something that's in your body that's boiling up over the days or the weeks. Going for that run, whether you use music or whether you just you listen to the sounds in your area, that's the biggest trophy you could ever take away from athletics.'

These clubs offer opportunities for the local people, they provide people with a vice, an escape from whatever they are going through at that time, whether it be struggles at work or at home, you can leave it all behind you on the track.

As we enter the festive period and many ease off their training and spend time with their loved ones, your local Athletics Club will always be there to welcome you back thanks to the strength of the volunteers and the community it lives in.

Featured Image: Dundrum AC's men at the National Senior Cross Country Championships in Gowran, Co Kilkenny. L-R: Jim Halley, Gerry O'Neill, Tom O'Connell and Barry Hartnett.

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