ByAndy Armstrong


In the last few years we’ve seen the junior section steadily grow and grow. Starting with just a handful of runners we now regularly have 20-30 juniors attend our Thursday evening training sessions and the Saturday morning group is steadily getting more popular.

In 2015 we’ve seen success in several different areas; excellent solo performances in the BOFRA & FRA championships, top ten finishes in local road races and strong team results in the XC leagues. All this has been testimony to the commitment and hard work of our junior runners as well as the coaches and assistants involved in their training.

However; under the surface, there are serious problems building. We’ve always struggled to deliver properly targeted coaching sessions because of a lack of adult helpers. As groups get bigger so the quality of the session diminishes and our ability to control safety reduces. This has gradually become worse and worse, to the point where group sizes are becoming dangerous and the wide range of abilities is not being addressed.

You can help. We have a small group of regular helpers (and we’re very grateful to them) but it’s just not enough, we desperately need considerably more interest & support from the senior side of the club. It’s not difficult work, the coach will run the session and explain what’s going on, you just have to be there to assist & encourage. If you really enjoy it then there are opportunities to gain coaching qualifications and to lead groups.

It doesn’t matter what your running ability is; most of our sessions are structured intervals over a short course. It also doesn’t matter if you can only come once a month, all we need is a regular commitment.  Don’t be shy; it’s not like school, these kids want to be here and they really put the effort in. Coaching youngsters can be very rewarding and it’s always fun!

We’ve made this plea in the past, to little effect, but I really hope that we can do better this time.  Other local clubs have started junior sections and are getting plenty of support from their senior runners.

There are other ways of supporting your club than turning up to free XC races or clapping at the sidelines; get involved and make a difference to the future of Clayton.

Hoping to here from you,

Andy Armstrong.

photos courtesy of Woodentops, David Belshaw, Alan Dorrington

About the author

Andy Armstrong