Red Rose Road Runners

Introduction – Gareth Bell – Men’s Captain

Introduction – Gareth Bell – Men’s Captain

So as announced at the recent club awards evening I have been put forward as men’s club captain. I know the ladies are very lucky to have a hardworking captain in Pita however, I am not really sure what the role of the captain entails. I thought a good start would be to finally get around to writing my ‘introduction blog’ and ask the club membership what they see as the role of the captain.

So who am I?
Well if you haven’t already guessed I am Gareth Bell, I will be 36 this July and live in Lostock Hall. I have been a member of Red Rose Road Runners for just over two years now and I sit on the club committee. I grew up in the far East of Lancashire having been born in Burnley and lived in Nelson and Blackburn until I moved to the Preston area seven years ago. I am a mental health nurse and currently work full-time teaching nursing at a local university. I am father to Sophie who is also a club member.
Why running?
I started running again just over three years ago following my marriage breakdown. I had just changed job and found myself in a position where I didn’t really know anyone in Preston and was seriously contemplating moving back to East Lancashire. One of my new work colleagues was in the process of training for London marathon and started taking me out for short runs around Moor Park and eventually introduced me to Sweatshop Chorley’s running group. From there I started meeting people, making friends and becoming less isolated. I also found myself losing weight, enjoying running and entering a few local races. I met a few people who ran with Red Rose and went along to the Thursday night poachers runs for a few weeks before signing up. I also started to attend Cuerden Valley parkrun with Sophie and we have been volunteering there quite regularly for the last eighteen months or so.
Running for me has opened doors and changed my life for the better. I don’t want to get too much into my personal demons but those of you who do know me have an idea of how my mind works at times and that depression is something I battle with recurrently. It’s quite a profound statement to make but running has probably saved my life!

Volunteering and giving something back
Although I’ve only been a member for the last two years I have found myself encouraged to become an active member of the club. I really enjoy giving something back to the community and it is this element of the club I have found helps with my depression the most. I am on the committee, a regular volunteer at the local parkrun, and even when I’m not racing myself you will often find me at the races with Sophie helping out, cheering along and generally enjoying myself. I have undertaken the LIRF qualification and am also a UKA mental health ambassador. I would love to undertake my coaching qualification eventually and I enjoy helping Pita at the track and intervals sessions. I have also organised for a group of club members to marshal at the Manchester marathon for the last two races and I love seeing everyone wearing the Red Rose buffs knowing I played a big part in that. Those buffs seemed to have instilled a real sense of pride in members and its great how something so small instilled a real sense of belonging in our community. I have also enjoyed helping at the clubs Worden Park 10k and last year’s Cuerden Valley park cross country race.
Running achievements so far
I’m not the fastest of runners and know I will never win prizes, (genetics played its part in that) and being 6ft 1in carrying quite a hefty 14+ stone frame around in races can be quite a challenge (still three stone lighter than I was a few years ago so that’s a bonus!). I find it interesting how my running has developed and achievements from three years ago seem so insignificant now but it’s safe to say my biggest ever achievement was the first time I managed to run around Moor Park without stopping or needing to walk. It’s been a while since I’ve done much road racing having found myself shifting to the fells and trails however, one target I was pleased to achieve back in November 2015 was my first ever sub 20 minute 5k. Getting into last year’s London marathon was probably one of my biggest ever challenges (some of you are still reading the blog from last year!) but since then I’ve gone on to run four marathons in the space of twelve months and have another one this weekend coming. My love of the fells and trails has grown and last year and I ran in some amazing places and really started to find my niche. My standout racing achievement must be last year’s ‘Hell of a Hill’ marathon at Rivington where I did so much better than I could ever have imagined and felt strong all the way round and enjoyed every minute of it.

Current PBs
I know our lost brother Karl is still keeping tabs on these this year despite him wandering off from the flock so I have taken these from his spreadsheet.
1 mile – 5:39
5k – 19:49
10k – 42:03
Half Marathon – 1hr 36 mins
Marathon – 3hr 47 mins

Targets for this year?
Now, there is only one target for the year and that is to survive the training and complete the Lakeland 50 mile ultra in July this year. This is why I’ve hardly been racing with the club so far this year as it really doesn’t fit with the goal of ultra-training. After that I have no idea although I suspect a few months just enjoying some fell races will be a good starting point. Following in Gina and John’s footsteps and aim for the 100 Marathon Club? Who knows!
Men’s Captain role
As I’ve said I don’t really have a clear idea as to what the role of the men’s captain entails. For me, being a captain isn’t about being the best, it’s about being supportive, trying to lead by example and promoting the ethos of the club. I am lucky to have a very good friendship and working relationship with the ladies captain who has been very supportive of my running over the last year or so. I’d be really interested to find out from the club members themselves what they want from a club captain? If I don’t feel I can offer what the members wants, then I will help identify someone who can. Feel free to message me or reply to this post if you have any thoughts or ideas.

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