When Donna-Marie Friel first started running last summer she had no clue where her journey would take her.
Donna-Marie, 43, works full-time and has a 16 year-old daughter and after joining Pace Running Club last July she has gone on to complete a 5K road race and the Omagh Half Marathon.
“Had someone told me nine months ago that I’d have completed the Omagh Half Marathon and was several days away from attempting Strabane/Lifford Half Marathon I would have laughed at them and told them they were absolutely crazy,” said Donna-Marie.
On Tuesday April 28 Pace Running Club will be offering local people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to take part in a 5K road road. The programme is called C25K.
“One of the best things about Pace Running Club is that they cater for runners of all abilities. Whether you’re young or old, slow or fast, the people and the coaches at Pace Running Club are very supportive and are there to help,” added Donna-Marie.
Claire Smith also joined Pace Running Club last year and she said running has made a massive difference to her life.
“Since I joined the Pace Running Club C25K in July 2014, I have really enjoyed it so much. I started the C25K just mainly to get fitter which I am. Everyone in the group is brilliant, you are never left on your own to run, there is always someone willing to run with you until the end which is a great help. The hardest thing about running is getting out the door but once your there it’s great, we always have a laugh and you will feel 100 times better once you do it.”
Pace Running Club was set-up two years ago and was borne out of the Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership (WNP).
WNP Health Improvement Worker, Rhonda Boyd, described Pace Running Club as a real “asset to the community”.
“Pace Running Club started in 2013 with only a few people and now we have almost 200 people on our books.
“Not only is Pace a running club it’s a real asset to the community. They have helped to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease and Ashmore House Shelter.
“I live in Portrush but I try to get out running with the club as much as I can. I did my first ever 5K last year. It was brilliant,” added Ronda.
Billy Friel joined Pace Running Club in January last year. Billy said it was one of the best decisions he ever made.
“I decided to take up running after I was inspired by my son Kevin who had come home to run the Walled City Marathon the year before. It was hard going at the start going out by myself so my son persuaded me to join a local running club. So I decided to join Pace and I have never looked back.
“Going from the couch to 5K program to running a half marathon was something that I had always thought would be an impossible dream but with the help and encouragement of the club leaders and fellow members this became an a reality for me. I felt really proud and happy to be a part of Pace Running club as well as all that I had achieved.
“It’s easy to build confidence with all the advice and help from both the leaders and fellow runners in the club, there is no pecking order everyone is made to feel the same regardless of ability and the craic is always great.
“Later that year I was also able to complete the Walled City Marathon something that I like many had believed was impossible and it is all thanks to Pace Running Club, club leaders and its fantastic members.
“I used to think you had to be someone special to be a running club, well after I joined Pace I realised this was true!!! Everybody in Pace Running Club is very special to me and to everyone else in the club. My advice would be to join pace now,” he said.
Pace Running Club meet in St. Columb’s Park car park every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:45pm. Everyone is welcome and each session costs £1 per person. Fore more information on Pace Running Club visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pace.runningclub