CEO club visit - Wreake Runners Young Athletes

Chris Jones headed to Syston, near Leicester, to find out more about the Wreake Runners young athletes section. The group of young athletes, which are part of Wreake Runners, meet every Saturday morning at the grass track at Wreake Academy school.

A range of coaches provide sessions for half a dozen different groups before everyone comes together for a club relay event which is held every week at the end of training.

The junior section of Wreake Runners caters for athletes from around the age of seven years upwards. As the junior section of a running club there is an emphasis on running events but even on a winter morning on a wet grass track the sprint group were in action.

Since 2009 the club has also been involved in a Track and Field league to give the athletes, aged 8 -17 years old, experience in a wider range of disciplines. The club has also won the Leicestershire QuadKids league.

After a group warm up the youngsters headed off with different coaches to get their sessions underway. A gazebo had already been put up to create a base near the entrance to the playing field as a lot of the parents stayed to watch their children being put through their paces.

Chris said, “It was great to see the way that a range of activities were put on in relatively modest surroundings.

"Club facilities are a valuable part of the sport that we need to work to preserve and develop. But one lesson from a Saturday morning at Syston is that it is possible for creative and enthusiastic coaches to make the best use of whatever facilities and resources they have to create a great atmosphere and effective training sessions.”

While there was a great emphasis on a friendly environment there was clearly some serious training going on with the coaches all having been sent session plans for the Saturday in the days before they took place. As well as the differentiation between the sprinters and endurance athletes the sessions going on also took into account the development stage and abilities of the athletes involved.

Then, at the end of the session, everyone was back together for the Paarlauf style relay. Each athlete in a team of five took on a series of four 100m legs as they worked their way around the track, finishing when each each athlete was back to their original start point.

With the relay over the joking and banter continued as everyone gathered together for the warm down which was done with all the athletes together once again.

The training certainly seems to be working. The Wreake Runners Young Athletes Under 13 Girls were recently crowned Midlands Champions with the Under 13 Boys taking home silver medals.

The Girls team had also claimed the National Road relays title at the start of the winter while the boys came in fourth and the club has seen its athletes making their mark on the track as well.

Chris commented, “Speaking to parents at the club it was clear that there is a real social side to the club but that this is part of why the youngsters enjoyed getting stuck in to the training that they were doing so much - they were enjoying themselves.

"It was good to see the way that everyone coming together for the warm up, relay and the warm down while there was also a real range of sessions going on in the middle that catered so well for the different athletes involved.

"The successes that the club have enjoyed show the importance of good coaching. There are clearly a good number of committed coaches supporting the activities of these athletes by settimg training that the results show to effective at developing their performance. But that the atmosphere at Syston made obvious this training is also enjoyed by the athletes too and provides something that is really valued by all the parents.”

John Skevington, who set up the section 15 years added, “Having lots of willing and enthusiastic helpers who are so committed to the club is a great advantage. Over the past couple of years more people have come forward to take on roles within the club which has allowed me to concentrate further on coaching and developing coaching within the club. We have a great crop of very talented young athletes coming through, however, we are also keen to continue to support those who just come for a bit of fitness and have some fun.”

Fern Harrison, who in 2014 was ranked 8th for 1500m in the UK for her Under 13 age group commented, “I have been coming to Wreake Runners since I was 8 years old and have enjoyed growing my athletics with the club. The girl’s team is great to be a part of as although we all work really hard at training we are also enjoy being together which creates a great team spirit.”

To find out more about Wreake Runners Young Athletes head to their section on the club's website

General information on Wreake Runners, including on senior's section, is available at