Alfreton Jog Club Reindeer Run

As I pulled into the car park, ready for Alfreton Jog Club’s final reindeer run of the year I could see small groups of people milling around in some pretty impressive festive attire.

I felt a little underdressed, but thankfully leader Amy was waiting with a car boot full of goodies which she’s been selling to fundraise for the Brathay Trust, a social enterprise helping children, young people and families to have more positive engagement with their local communities. The total raised, she later informs me, is an impressive £804.

So I donned a pair of reindeer antlers, bagged myself a specially designed medal and some hot chocolate treats to take home for the kids and I was ready to go.

An annual tradition

The group started their annual reindeer run a few years ago, with an accidentally created Strava route.

Leader Amy Bradley explains: “We did a run and someone mentioned it looked a bit like an animal with legs and then one of our group, Viki, drew some antlers on by running round the industrial estate bits at the bottom. So we attribute it all to Viki as the leader of the reindeer.

“Then it kind of grew. We ran it for a few years then people saw it on Strava and people would join and then they’d bring some friends. Then a couple of years ago we had 150 people doing it one evening, so it got massive.”

Raising money

After a much quieter affair last year thanks to lockdown, they were keen to make this year’s bigger and better. Amy is aiming to raise £3,000 for the Brathay Trust by doing 10 marathons in 10 days next year so they decided to have medals, hot chocolate cones, sweet cones, bells and reindeer antlers available to buy to raise some extra money.

Amy explained: “There’s a big appetite for Chrismassy antics this year and we just split it over a few weeks rather than one massive group otherwise it would just be a frightening amount of people turning up on one night.

“A couple of years ago we just had a collection bucket and we raised about £300 which we donated to the Nottingham hospital charity. This year because I’m fundraising for Brathay it just made sense that we’d give the money to them. I didn’t quite imagine for it to spiral quite as out of control as it has, in a good way.”

Connecting the Jog Derbyshire network

Having other groups from across Jog Derbyshire joining has provided an opportunity for sharing learning.

Amy said: “It’s nice to meet other groups and it’s nice to meet other leaders and it’s nice to get a feel for how other leaders lead their groups which is quite interesting.

“Like last night we had Smalley, and their leaders were really in control and took care of all the road crossings for us and were really helpful, it just felt like it flowed really nicely.

“Other leaders, which is fine, tend to be more like friends to people who come to their groups so there’s different kinds of leadership and it’s just interesting seeing that. It’s interesting seeing other runners, different abilities. There are people walk/running at the back and there are people shooting off at the front, it’s a real mix of people.”

Support and organisation

“It’s stressful”, Amy laughed good humouredly when I asked what it was like to organise and keep everybody together.

But as a participant it didn’t feel like that. The leaders and co-leaders were well spaced out, running up and down the group checking everyone was ok and making sure we all got across the roads safely. “Car!” and “Post!” were regularly shouted out by others in the group to warn those behind of upcoming obstacles and the pace was well controlled and gentle enough to suit everybody.

As we continued around the route it had a really lovely community feel about it. Cars stopped to let us all past, flashing lights and beeping horns.

Tailor made runs

As well as the open invitation for groups to attend one of the three sessions which took place in December on the group’s usual running night, additional sessions were set up.

One of these being for Jog Derbyshire group Rogue Runners.

Amy explains: “Because they’re so big, I approached James [Rogue Runners leader] and said I wanted them to have their own evening so they could enjoy the run themselves without being in a monstrous group.

“They used the Run Together booking system so James took care of that side of things for me, he coordinated them and then liaised with me and then we invited them all down.

“It was freezing cold, it was chucking it down but it was a great atmosphere, everyone was trying their best to smile even though they were absolutely drenched.”

Spreading the cheer

Not only did groups benefit from taking part in the runs but other groups have been inspired to create routes in their own community. Reindeers have also been spotted in Chesterfield, Mickleover and Wingerworth and an angel created in Derby.

“That was the best run of the year”, I overheard someone say as we came to a standstill, carefully stopping Strava in the right place.

“I absolutely love it”, Amy admitted, “I love seeing the photos afterwards and I always post and ask for pictures. When you hear them do a little squeal when they see the first reindeer on Strava it’s a great feeling.”

For more information on Amy’s fundraising efforts and to donate visit her fundraising page here.

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