Birmingham running clubs collaborating to improve athlete experience

In October 2022, City of Birmingham Striders (COBS) were successful with their application for the Club Run programme. This programme was aimed to support competitive members, leaders and coaches at road running clubs through a series of visits from an experienced England Athletics coach deliverer. We caught up with the club to discuss how they have benefitted from this support.

Last year, Chris Hollinshead attended some COBS Tuesday night coaching sessions held at the Aston University campus, which were structured as alternating blocks of speed and hills. As Chris is an England Athletics coach based in the West Midlands and coach of the Aston Gazelles Running Club at the university, these visits were greatly beneficial for COBS.

“Whilst Chris was with us, he challenged us on why we didn't have joint sessions with Gazelles, given we are both training in the same location. This was something we had noticed but not considered, previously thinking it was different rules for student running clubs. 

“With Chris's encouragement we arranged to turn our Tuesday session into a joint COBS & Gazelles session coached by COBS coaches. This commenced with the new term in September 2023 and has since gone from strength to strength.”

Liam, a Run Leader and Cross Country Captain at COBS, added, “Both groups were excited to join up. The collaboration has allowed more competition between runners of all abilities as most runners now have someone to run with and push themselves. As a result, attendance has increased, and the group has become more established. Previously we were getting between 3-5 runners on a Tuesday, now we regularly get 15 and above.”

City of Birmingham Striders runners

A beneficial collaboration for everyone

Coaches/Run Leaders

COBS Coaches and Run Leaders have benefitted from the larger attendance. They have been able to structure the sessions to take advantage of the larger group of runners, as well as opportunities to enhance their own coaching.

Liam explained how the joint sessions had aided his development as a Run Leader.

“As a Run Leader, I've enjoyed the challenge of having to cater sessions to bigger groups and a wider range of abilities. It's definitely improved me as a Run Leader and I've enjoyed seeing how the group progress and improve over the weeks.”


Runners/athletes attending the session have benefited from the changes with consistent high turn out every week. Even on bitterly cold days there is a good community of runners coming together!


Students now have a pathway to stay with the running club post-graduation, so they can continue in the sport beyond their years at the university. This familiarity is key to preventing them from dropping out of running as they transition out of student life.

Liam’s advice to other clubs considering reaching out to local groups is, “Go for it! You'll definitely feel the benefit of running with more people in more diverse sessions. It also opens up opportunities to increase club membership.”

Read more about other clubs coming together to share facilities.