WHAT started as a hobby for one Leamington mum has been a runaway success and resulted in women across the district pounding the pavements.
Lauren Gregory had always been an avid runner, but after having her first baby and taking a break from the sport, she returned more inspired than ever.
The 37-year-old started taking part in marathons and after completing a 100km run wanted to help other local women experience the benefits of pulling on their trainers.
She teamed up with friend Rebecca Chumun and last summer the pair began ‘Run Like A Girl’ – a group for women in Warwick and Leamington who meet for a free weekly running session.
The graphic designer and mum-of-two said: “I have always been involved with running but really fell in love with it after having my son just over five years ago.
“Setting up a women-only running club has been a dream of mine for a while now but after completing an ultra marathon last year I finally found the confidence to bite the bullet and we started Run Like a Girl.
“We began the venture together with 22 ladies which I was thrilled with but the numbers soon grew. Now we have around 150 runners and it is an incredible atmosphere. It really brings to light how women’s running is still very much on the rise.”
The name for the club came from Lauren and Rebecca wanting to empower local women to step out of their comfort zone and take on a new challenge.
And it seems to have worked as the club has been a runaway success, with many members taking on half marathons just months after joining when it launched last July.
Being entirely staffed by volunteers, runners have taken on coaching roles and also help to sell merchandise which Lauren and Rebecca designed for their sporty joggers. A doctor who joined the club even offers her services as a free medical advisor to the runners.
The group has recently launched an eight week course for beginners along with coaching sessions working with Active South Leamington.
Lauren told the Observer: “We are a great team and very fast growing. We offer plenty of support and enthusiasm which goes a long way. It’s an incredible feeling to watch everyone progress and I really hope our love for running will help others and encourage them to take on their own goals.”
Visit runlikeagirl.org.uk or www.activesl.org.uk to find out more.