Jog Derbyshire group Borrowash Jolly Joggers was formed by four friends who met at a mother and baby exercise class. With a passion for generating opportunities for both themselves and others to run in a safe, friendly environment they’ve created a successful group which continually welcomes new people through couch to 5k sessions and a new buggy group.
This summer they set out to create a new, fun way for people from the group to socialise whilst bringing together their families and children with a sports day.
We caught up with three of the four leaders – Nicola, Nichola and Kelly as they settled down for a post buggy run picnic in Alvaston Park to find out all about it. Having recently had her third baby, fourth leader Leanne was taking a well-earned break.
The thinking behind it
Nicola said: “We were in the pub (again) and said we wanted to do some sort of social event. We decided on a sports day but with a twist on traditional games. It was very fun coming up with ideas about how we could get people dirty, fall over or laugh at each other.”
With two children each, planning the event wasn’t an easy task but working as a team helped them bring it all together.
Kelly said: “We often said let’s meet at soft play where the kids are entertained and we’ll sit and have a bit of a chat and a plan. Then we used Whatsapp to communicate and split the roles between us. If it was one person organising it I don’t think it would have happened. It still felt like hard work with four of us but it was more manageable.”
Nicola said: “We’re all quite different and we work so well together. We all bring something. There are a couple of teachers and straight away that brings organisation. Kelly is so good at social media.”
“If we were all the same it wouldn’t have worked but we’ve all got a passion for making it work for our children. We’ve all got that common goal but we’ve bought something different to the table to make it work.”
A day of laughter
On the day 70 people turned out to enjoy the event. The usual sack race was replaced by six people hopping together in a duvet cover. There was ‘poo the potato’ along with an egg and spoon race with real eggs and another involving spinning around a cricket stump with a glass of water.
Nicola said: “It was really good. People were covered in bin liners and shower caps to protect them from the eggs so they looked funny before it had even started. All the kids joined in too.”
Nicola said: “There was a whole age range from children to grandparents. We also did a raffle with some brilliant prizes and awards. We donated £230 to Mind and kept a bit for the group too. We’re just in discussions about how we’re going to spend that.”
Nichola said: “We felt a charity like Mind would relate to a lot of people. Recently there’s been a lot of discussion where everyone knows someone who’s perhaps struggling with their mental health. So we felt it would be meaningful to everyone who attended in some way.”
Kelly said: “It’s really apparent running on a Monday night makes such a difference to people’s mental health generally. They have a rubbish day at work and think it’s the last thing I want to do but you go along, have a chat with someone and feel much better. It’s important to keep supporting mental health charities.”
A warm fuzzy feeling
Nicola said: “I think it worked a lot better than we ever anticipated. To make the teams we had to put people and families together who wouldn’t normally have spoken much. Socialising and chatting to people they wouldn’t normally chat to on a Monday night worked really well.”
Nichola said: “Over winter we got so used to seeing everyone in their running gear in the dark. When we have a good turn out some of the quicker people might not always get chance to chat to people who are going at a slower pace so we felt like it was quite important to do a social.
“We’ve gone out for meals in the past but again when you’re sat round a table you don’t always chat to everybody. With this people were coming with their whole families so we met their children, husbands and wives who we wouldn’t see on a Monday night, so it extended that community feel even more.”
Kelly said: “At the end someone got up and thanked us for setting up the group and they’d all clubbed together to get us something. It was unexpected and lovely. It gives you a nice warm fuzzy feeling but really we just do it because it’s important to have these community things.”
Nichola said: “We were really touched. One of the ladies got up and said if someone suggests something for Monday night she says no, that’s the night she runs and every Monday it feels like it brings the community together. Although we think it’s a really friendly group it’s nice for someone else to say what a difference it’s made to them.
“We were buzzing anyway and that just made us realise what we’ve been doing has had more of an impact on people than we realise. They prioritise coming because they enjoy it so much and that was really nice to hear.”
Inspiring the next generation
It’s clear from chatting to them how passionate they are about involving their children as much as they can – from the social occasions to the group itself.
Kelly said: “You overheard people saying how much their kids loved it. They obviously hear about their parents going to Jolly Joggers but with the sports day they felt a part of it. It’s motivating a second generation and that’s what we’re hoping for with the buggy runs. It’s normal now for them to be either in the buggy running or to see us running and that’s really important.”
Nichola said: “That’s one of the reasons we chose a sports day rather than a BBQ because we wanted to encourage families to come and exercise together.”
Nicola said: “We were so exhausted afterwards. It was brilliant and one of the best events I’ve ever done. We’re going to make it annual.”