!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"> Barrow Voice Summer 2005 - Sport
The Quarterly Village Publication produced by Barrow upon Soar Community Association

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BARROW RUNNERS 1985 - 2005

I am sure many of you may have seen them, either running around the village just before Christmas all dressed in weird fancy dress outfits or maybe on a Tuesday and Thursday evening running in large groups down the High Street, well they are Barrow Runners - but how did it all evolve just over 20 years ago?

I suppose for many folk seeing and witnessing the atmosphere of the 1981 London Marathon was probably the biggest influence on how our village running club came into being.

A local man John Arrowsmith ran the London that year and from there I am sure many others had a dream of completing this historic distance.The eighties was certainly a boom year for people wanting to run. Consequently during 1981-82 a group of village enthusiasts got together to run on a Tuesday evening, and very soon Sunday mornings became part of the groups' activities giving them time to run a longer distance.Amongst that group would be Dr John Earl. John was always a great believer in exercise, and his enthusiasm was shared by his beloved boxer dog, Sheba, who was always close to his side. John went on to be the club's president for 16 years.

Gradually more and more local events caught the imagination of would-be runners. 1982 saw the very first Loughborough half marathon with up to 1000 runners passing through Barrow, as it was part of the course in those days. Our Boxing Day Handicap was also started and is now in its 24th year. Barrow Methodist Church organised a 9.3 mile race in 1984 to raise funds and then a year later the Barrow Festival of Running was created by race director and teacher, Mike Morley.The Barrow Festival event was warmly received by everyone as the 10 mile, 4 mile and 1 mile runs gave everyone, irrespective of ability, a chance to run.

By 1985 the village group had been meeting on a casual basis for 3 years but the group of four, namely Mick Ballard, John Earl, Dave Rose and Roger Latham, really wanted to develop into a more organised club. So following the various applications to the appropriate bodies the club became an affiliated 3 A's running club and Barrow Runners was born.

Immediately the club grew to a membership of around 60 and this remained so for many years, although by the mid 90's the running boom was now over.The club continued to develop with its involvement with Leicester Road Running League and their most notable success has always been the Barrow 6 mile race which passes through the village centre, usually in January

. The annual

Boxing Day Handicap Race, which originated in 1982 with 24 runners, now hosts a field of over 200 runners. Club Chairman Mick Ballard commented that the move to bring the race into the heart of Barrow and start in the Three Crowns car park played a massive part in boosting the race's popularity.

Mick remarked on the sad losses of both David Rose and John Earl, both who were involved in the club's early history, as a great loss to the club.

Well, the years have passed by and many of those early runners have now hung up their running shoes, but without doubt and thanks to a brilliant committee and enthusiastic members Barrow Runners is now one of the largest running clubs in the county with 150 members. Every year since the club was formed they have donated thousands of pounds from their respective races to national and local charities.This year the club are again heading towards a substantial figure which will be donated to local projects and schools.

The club's success is very appropriate in this their 20th year with the club's senior and veteran men winning the Leics Winter League in the face of fierce competition from other county squads.The club also has a very strong ladies section with over 50 lady members. From something that started out as very low key, Barrow Runners must be one of the village's most successful sporting groups, and it looks like it will continue to grow.

What more can we say, but if you would like to know more about the club, visit its website on www.barrow-runners.fsnet, co.uk or contact:

Chairman - Mick Ballard : 01509 413586
Club Secretary - Peter Osbourne : 01509 890882
Publicity Officer - Ian Paramore : 07721 788797