Two rather large things happened in the past week or so.

First of all, I attended the birthday party – one of ‘significance!’ – of our own Gordon Little, chairman and co-founder of Horsforth Harriers. The club actually was based for a very short time in Gordon’s front room, so it has come a long way in the intervening years. I suspect that getting almost 300 members into Gordon’s front room now is something of a non-starter and even if we achieved it, I think I can say with almost certainty there wouldn’t be enough mugs to go round for tea.

Among the familiar faces there, some also co-founders of the club, there were several, me included, who were probably wondering how much longer we could defy ‘tempus fugiting’ and continue running. Some, indeed, had called it a day already. The rest of us were prepared to battle on, for now at least, because running is still such an important part of our lives. Huge thanks to Gordon and the ever patient Sheila (who history suggests coined the club name) for setting us on the long road, much behind us now, of the ‘social club with a running problem’. And despite the birthday of significance, I assume Gordon will be back running with the club shortly!

More recently I attended the Annual General Meeting of Horsforth Harriers, which despite the relatively sparse attendance sets the tone for the coming year. What did we learn there?

To kick off with we learned that the move to our new home at Horsforth Community Sports Association had been expensive, mainly because the club opted to subsidise the initial club membership of same. While not crying the poverty tale too much, it means several things. First you need to get your Harriers subs renewal in, pronto. More important than ever. And be warned, there’s a £5.00 penalty for anybody who renews after April 30th.

Also we may need to charge in future for some of our social events and entry to events such as the Calderdale Relay or Leeds Country Way. We rely on income from our race, the Apperley Bridge Canter, to pay for these things and we can’t put that on without a lot of volunteers from the club, so if asked, please be proactive in stepping up to the plate. It’s a couple of hours of your time and you’ll be the beneficiary of this ultimately. We need a second race to help swell the coffers and in October of this year we’ll be staging a Vets race, this with a view to perhaps running a second race of our own in future years. Again we’ll need volunteers to marshal and set the course etc., so when your help is requested as it assuredly will be, please, please, please step forward to help – it doesn’t matter if you haven’t done it before – training, as they say, will be given!

That said, there was much to be positive about. Our membership is very healthy, almost 300 as alluded to above. And we can pride ourselves that amongst our local rivals we have the best and most extensively organised training groups of all (our club skipper has tested the water on this and is unequivocal about it).

And while running has clearly changed in tone and emphasis in recent years, we still have a highly competitive top end. As the captains’ reports revealed, our men are really good, and our women are downright awesome currently. Watch them go this coming year. At the other end of the scale we have had a really healthy influx of new runners into the ABG group, many of whom we have had move upward and onwards on to quicker and more competitive groups, than ever before. What about the rest of you though, those in the middle? Well, believe it or not, you could possibly be our most important group. If we can get more of you out there running in the Yorkshire Veterans races and PECO series, for instance, it could make the difference between us competing well and actually winning stuff – although it’s difficult to see how the ladies can improve on their clean sweeps in the YVAA and PECO admittedly. As Bev (Elliot) said even our second ladies team won their contest in the PECO, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need more ladies out there running – the more, the better. And Nathan would certainly like to introduce more of you, male and female, to the joys of fell running.

Now it may be, as we discussed at the AGM, that many newer runners, or runners new to the club, (there’s a difference!) don’t know the procedure for getting involved in team races as many of us have become familiar with the what’s, why’s and how’s of these somewhat arcane matters over the years. If in doubt ask either your group leaders or someone on the committee. Or if really stuck, ask me! There’s always somebody who’ll be delighted to explain the bits you might be missing about the club, racing, team events etc., etc. Another good way to do this is to buy a drink in the bar after training, and hang around even if it’s only for half an hour to see what everybody else’s plans are.

Finally, on the committee we have a new members – a social secretary in Liz Huby who will be organising various events over the coming months. Please support these, not only to put money over the bar at HSCA, but to help grow a more social aspect to the club. I think the first event may be a Quiz Night, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Also Steve Wood is now in charge of membership, taking over seamlessly from Garth De Roux and I have stepped down to be replaced by Jeanette Freeman as a general committee member. She has been tasked with improving communications with our parent body at HSCA to make sure they know our feelings on matters and equally, we know what they are thinking and planning, so we can support them as is appropriate. This is an area that has been lacking since we moved in, so please give Jeanette your every assistance in what is an important role in the club.

I thank you!

The Fat Bloke

P.S. For those of you wondering why I stepped down from the committee, you may be interested to learn that our membership is currently 58% female and generally much younger than I am. Try as I might, I cannot manage, despite my best efforts, to be younger or 58% female, so it was probably the right time to make way for somebody who fits the club demographic a bit better!

Me leading Gordon for five yards before giving way to a more senior runner!