With this February officially declared as one of the wettest on record, recent running conditions have been less than ideal for our Tribe. Taking to the sodden trails for this months’ Talk of the Tribe is the Ranelagh Harriers, a club of over 400 runners based in picturesque Richmond in South West London.
Formed in 1881, the club is the birthplace of the London Marathon, which was formulated in The Dysart Arms next to where the clubhouse stands today. Describing themselves as inclusive, fun and passionate, the club runs several times a week, catering for beginners all the way through to elite athletes.
Being based right next to Richmond Park means the club is spoilt for choice when it comes to routes. From stunning river views to hills which will challenge the strongest of legs - plus a great tea room for the many who believe any long run should end with tea and cake - there really is a route for every runner.
An old favourite is a two-lap route within the park covering 7.7 miles starting from King Henry’s Mound, crossing Pen Ponds before passing White Lodge - home of the Royal Ballet School - and grazing the edge of Sidmouth Wood, where you may be lucky enough to spot a deer or two. Club member Suzy tells us: ‘My favourite part is the long downhill to Pen Ponds. If I have the energy, it’s fun to try and sprint finish - which is always rewarded with plenty of cheering from my teammates!’
The route itself is varied and challenging, with mixed terrain and plenty of mud - especially at this time of year. As a majority of the route is on trails, sturdy trail running shoes are required to ensure you remain upright during the muddier section - and reflective clothing with a head torch is a must for limited daylight hours during winter.
Club member Simon says: ‘I never tire of running in Richmond Park, whether on the Tamsin Trail, cross country or at night on the road. It’s sometimes easy to forget how lucky we are to have this amazing place, with its abundance of wildlife, on our doorstep in London.’
For the Ranelagh Harriers, the secret to a successful run is a very personal thing. For some it’s simply getting out, having a chat and a catch up with friends. For others, it’s a planned training programme with specific goals in mind. Club member Amrut tells us: ‘Over the last 8 years I have run more than 20 half marathons, a marathon and lots of other races, which was unimaginable for me before. I love running with our group in the darkness of the winter months and giving 100% to the sessions. The club is an important part of my life, not just for my fitness but for my overall wellbeing.’
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Photo credit: Ranelagh Harriers