Red Rose and Runsmart – A split personality – Damian Clapham

Red Rose and Runsmart – A split personality – Damian Clapham

Professionally I am a Chartered Surveyor, if you need a passport photo signing and have known me for three years shout up! If you have a problem with property I have several colleagues who do a much better job than me I can refer you too!! Married to Michelle with Charlotte (11) and James (4) being abandoned every time I escape for a race or a training run. I have lived in Leyland for 12 years and before that lived in Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle upon Tyne (University).
I have been a member of Red Rose since 2013 however; running has been a massive part of my life since I was in my early teens. As a child I had always been keen on sports, I played football for the school and could often be found bombing around “the block” on my bike but it wasn’t until I started secondary school and I discovered cross country in PE that I realised how much I loved running.
It wasn’t just that I loved it, it appeared that I was pretty good at it, more often than not I would be leading the way running down the railway bridge back to the sports pavilion at Feniscliffe (St Wilfrid’s School Playing Fields) on a cross country course that seemed to be mostly paths having lapped a great deal of my fellow pupils despite it only being two laps! This lead to it being suggested I join my local athletic club, Blackburn Harriers, and I spent several years racing for them over 800m, 1500m and believe it or not high jump! I wasn’t the best in any of these in the local and regional races but was never that far behind! I was also South Ribble Orienteering
Then came beer, girls, university…….. the usual story!!
I still kept up running, though more for fitness than anything. I did a few local 10km races and the odd half marathon but it wasn’t until I settled down finally in Leyland that I started running properly again. I have to admit I found it very hard at first, seeing how much slower I was now than I had been was hard to take and I had several failed attempts at getting back into it.
I can’t even remember how I found out about Red Rose, I probably just looked on the internet and saw they were the most local to Leyland, with South Ribble Runners being female only. I have a feeling Steve Bladon may have been involved in getting me there for that first Poachers run. I do remember it taking me ages to buck up the courage to turn up, though when I finally did it everyone was extremely welcoming. I have to admit it has been a very good find for me, I have made so many good friends through running with Red Rose that I am not exactly sure how my life would be without it.

I battled for a while to try and make the training runs but working in Knutsford and having a young family meant most of the sessions where just too early. It was also clear that having trained for 2 marathons in 2012 before joining Red Rose there was a lot of good running routes around Leyland. I didn’t feel I knew enough people at the Red Rose to rock up and say “can I start a new training night?” and I also realised how hard it was for me to turn up that first time. A stepping stone between running on your own and joining a club would have been great for me and that is where the idea for RunSmart came about. Separate from all clubs and available for all to just come and run together socially without the “club” status. Just a group of mates running together….. I have heard rumours that when it first started it caused a few comments between members of Red Rose but it was never meant to compete and hopefully has actually helped in the growth of Red Rose over the last few years.
The enjoyment I have got from helping beginners to come to see how good running can be to mental and physical health has led to a natural progression into Coaching. I now have a few years of experience and the UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness Qualification behind so hopefully I can help a few more people individually to get more from their running and achieve a few personal goals.
As far as my running goes, I love pulling the Red Rose Vest on and try to get to as many of the clubs races as I can, though I do get shouted at every now and then for running in non-club races in a normal tshirt! Chester Marathon is the big aim this year, just to get round, but sub 5 would be lovely, next year will be trying to get back to the speed I used to run…..everyone has to have an unachievable goal don’t they…….
Feel free to say hello, I am not the best at making that initial conversation but generally you can’t shut me up once you get me talking and it’s not all true what they say about me!!
Looking forward to seeing Red Rose continue to grow as well as it has done over the last few years and can’t see me ever running for anyone else, there simply isn’t a more sociable/ friendly club out there!!

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