Between working full-time as a hairdresser and rearing three young children, 28 year-old Tina MacHugh has very little time to herself.
Despite her busy home and work life, Tina, like many other men and women from the Bogside and Brandywell has spent the last five weeks getting out of bed at around 6.45a.m. and going for an early morning run.
“Up until a few weeks ago I couldn’t run the length of myself but with the help of everyone in the ‘Born to Run’ running group, I was able to complete the ‘Jog in the Bog’ five kilometre run on Wednesday night,” said Tina proudly.
Taking their name from the 1975 Bruce Springsteen song ‘Born to Run’ the local running group was founded by local runners and fitness enthusiasts David Doherty, George Harkin and Sandra McKeever six weeks ago.
“The three of us decided that we’d try and get a running group together in the area,” said David.
“We knew from talking to some of the men and women in the area that they’d be interested in giving it a go.
“We meet up for a run as many times every week as we can. Many of us work full-time so we had to organise the runs for early in the morning.
“Initially, we thought that because of the early starts we would only attract five or six but the last few weeks we have seen our numbers creep closer to 20.”
David stressed the fact that runners see themselves as a group and not a club and explained that the whole point of it is for everyone to have fun, enjoy themselves and get fit.
“There’s a real variety of ability and levels of fitness amongst the group but we cater for everyone.
“There’s myself, George and Sandra so when we are out running one of us will stay at the front of the group, one in the middle and one at the back. That way it means that everyone can go at whatever pace suits them.”
Brenda Harkin, Lorraine Barbour and Melanie Kelly are all members of the ‘Born to Run’ running group. Like Tina, they all have children but said that once they get out of bed and go running they feel brilliant for the rest of the day.
“I have to stress that we are not competitive runners,” said Brenda.
“The running group is all about socialising and getting fit. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and I am feeling great as a result,” said mum of two Lorraine.
“It’s great having people as driven and experienced as David, George and Sandra out with us. They keep us motivated and never let us give up,” added mum-of-three Melanie.
George Harkin is well known on the local football scene. George said that whilst he is used to running and staying fit he enjoys the laid back feel of the ‘Born to Run’ running group.
“I come from a background where we were told to win and compete at all costs. The running group is a welcome change to that because everyone is enjoying themselves and there is no pressure on anyone to run in record times.”
David explained that when one of the group’s founding members, Sandra McKeever, started running four years ago she came last in the ‘Jog in the Bog’ but on Wednesday night she finished the ladies category in second.
“Sandra has worked really hard and she finished last in 2008 but this year she finished second. It’s a remarkable turn around and Sandra is a perfect example of what can be achieved if you’re prepared to do a bit of hard work.”
Tina, like many of the others in the group, conceded that they find running difficult but said that the feeling she experienced when she finished the ‘Jog in the Bog’ “was like no other” she had ever experienced before.
“There have been times when I have wanted to give up. It’s tough but David, Sandra and George all keep us right.
“I may not have finished the ‘Jog in the Bog’ in record time but I finished and no-one can take it away from me.”
The ‘Born to Run’ running group commence a six-week boot camp today at the Gasyard and are now working towards taking part in the Waterside half marathon next month.
“It’ll be tough but the main thing is that everyone has fun,” said David.