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Produced by publishers of The Popular Village Monthly


 Catherine’s Story


6.30am Saturday: The best time of the week A few years ago my running buddy moved away from the area and I found myself road running on my own, which was not much fun. Another friend persuaded me that I should join the Gnosall Ladies; and so bleary-eyed one Saturday morning I nervously arrived at the meeting point and was introduced to Boot Camp Bob.

Since then Friday nights have never been quite the same. While for many Friday evening marks the end of a working week, for me it also means an early-ish night ready for Saturday morning Boot Camp! The only day of the week that I will get up at 5.30am and be running by 6.30. Come rain or shine, snow or frozen temperatures the group will be out trotting through fields of mud or breaking through icy puddles. Setting out in the pitch black winter months with head torches and gloves, some mornings I feel like I have barely opened my eyes before my body is running. Then as the sun comes up, I am already half way through a run discussing the forthcoming breakfast options, or other seasonal food related distractions!

I recall only one occasion when Boot Camp was cancelled and that was due to storms earlier this year, though even then I believe Bob was out dodging the flying branches and debris. When the beast from the east visited and snowdrifts blocked my village lanes, my journey to Gnosall was stifled, but for those who travel to the meeting point on foot the deep drifts just added to the fun.

Undoubtedly, Gnosall boasts a large number of very accomplished runners, there are some amazing athletes in this village. Yet the Saturday morning Boot Camp is not all about speed and getting round as fast as possible and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Trail running with Boot Camp gives the opportunity to access and enjoy the countryside where we live. Most of the time the conditions require a bit more thought and consideration than just pounding the tarmac, one foot after another. Depending on the amount of rain and mud or ice, the challenge can simply be keeping upright, rather than speeding through the miles and clocking PBs.

I find that trail running connects me with the countryside and being a farmer’s daughter, I love being more in touch with our beautiful landscape. There is always an adventure and something new to see, whether it is the changes in the seasons, the farming routines or the people and animals we encounter along the way. All of this coupled with laughter, chat and encouragement from good friends help keep us all going when legs are tired and the miles seem hard. 

glrc2.pngSo, as the Covid-19 Lockdown came into place, our army of Boot Camp warriors were forced to disband and running returned to a solitary outing once more. Still in the habit of waking at 5.30am Saturday morning and with a little reassurance from my OS map, I took to exploring routes closer to home and ran with the spirit of Boot Camp. Occasionally spotting another Boot Camp warrior doing the same, the joy to bump into a friend again! Having lived in my village for ten years I have never properly explored the footpaths and bridleways, so I have really enjoyed finding paths I never knew existed, right on my doorstep which I can now share with my family on walks and cycling. Had I not joined the Boot Camp I would never have grown my confidence in trail running and the beautiful footpaths and routes would still be unknown to me. How fortunate I feel.

Now, as Lockdown begins to ease and small groups are permitted to meet outdoors, the Boot Camp family are gradually able to reconvene, whilst adhering to social distancing rules. We are all hoping it will not be long before the group are once again re-united and perhaps there will be some new recruits, also taking the bleary-eyed step into the 6.30am world of trail running,willing to join our band of early morning Warriors. My question is will it be you?

Catherine Hawksworth

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