The National Cross Country Relays returned for the 2023 season, taking place in Mansfield. It proved to be an exciting event with the men’s race being won by less than two seconds! Read our full event report here.
At the event we caught up with Alex Abel, from Fitmums and Friends, who have been competing at the National Cross Country Relays for the past seven years. Alex explained why they keep coming back to this event:
“We used to have a coach called Mike Barlow, husband of Sam Barlow who founded Fitmums and Friends. Sadly, he passed away and we are carrying on competing at the cross country relays in his memory as a charity and club.”
The club aims to welcome everyone to help improve fitness and provide an opportunity to socialise with like-minded people. It has grown and now includes groups across East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, so events like this provide a great opportunity to come together as a wider community:
“The thing I like most about cross country events is the day as a whole and not just the race itself. You get to meet together as a club. At Fitmums we have different smaller bases spread all over East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire so to be able to come together at these events is great. We have got people here running today from all of the different smaller clubs based in Hull, Beverley and Market Weighton.”
Whilst they are traditionally a recreational club, providing chances for everyone to compete is important to encourage runners to experience the camaraderie in a competitive team environment. The club enter local cross country and road races to give everyone the opportunity to take part.
“My partner and I take a lot of time to plan and get everyone to sign up and come along. We try and get runners who haven’t done it before to sign up as we have no expectations of winning, we just love taking part.”
This camaraderie is key for people to positively experience competitive running, without any pressure on the results. Founder of Fitmums and Friends, Sam, describes the impact running can have on mental health:
“There is nothing better than being physically active with a group of people. The camaraderie of being with other people whether you are walking or running is fantastic and can really support mental health.”