Close this search box.

Long Live Penkridge runners!

Embarking on a journey from Weight Watchers to marathons, Russell Breeze (Pr Primary Run leader) found solace and support with Penkridge Runners. Each step marked a triumph over his past self, with fellowship, growth and endless joy fuelling his stride.
Russell Breeze

My Story: Russell Breeze (PR Primary Run Leader)

In 2012, I finally made it to the doctor’s office after putting it off for too long, and to my surprise, they handed me a 12-week Weight Watchers voucher. My wife Carly joined me at Weight Watchers, and at our first weigh-in, I was shocked to see the scale read 18.75 stone! I couldn’t believe how heavy I had become. Determined, we listened attentively to their advice, gathered plenty of literature, and committed to cooking healthier meals while cutting back on takeaways and sweets. 

After just one week, I proudly stepped on the scale to find I had lost 6 pounds! Encouraged by this progress, I set my sights on the doctor’s target of a 10% weight loss. Week by week, the pounds dropped, with a consistent loss of 1 to 3 pounds. When I reached my goal, I earned another set of vouchers, propelling me further along my weight loss journey. With each milestone achieved, I felt myself transforming into a new, healthier version of myself.

As we become regular attendees at Weight Watchers meetings, we gradually forged friendships with some of the staff members. One individual who particularly stands out is Paula Kimberley (though she prefers to go by Paula rather than her given name, Pauline). She shares with us that her partner runs his own gym and is a kickboxer, which initially seems a bit unbelievable, but then Shaun Preece enters the picture, adding a layer of credibility to her claims. In good humour, we decide to investigate further and join Shaun’s intense workout sessions. Despite the challenge, we find ourselves feeling immensely better afterward. Paula also suggests incorporating running into our fitness routine, and feeling more energetic and fit, we enthusiastically join her for a run one evening.

Running turned out to be more challenging than I initially expected. Not only had I not seriously run since my school days back in 1994, but the area where Paula resides is known for its safety concerns, prompting me to jest about needing a stab-proof vest, a taser, and some pepper spray for protection.

After a while, a friend tagged me on Facebook about a new running group: Penkridge Runners. The advertisement sounded great, so I mentioned it to Carly and our friend Paula. We decided to register, but apprehension gripped us; we doubted our readiness for a running club. Still, we thought we’d give it a go since there would be nothing to lose.

On Saturday, 1st November 2014, we attended our first session at Penkridge Runners. We gathered at the Monckton Recreation Centre car park, searching for a guy named Martin Leek. After quickly locating him, it was difficult to determine who was more nervous – us or Martin. Eventually, about 12 of us gathered and Martin introduced himself and provided an explanation of how the whole setup worked. He inquired about our prior running experience and whether we were accustomed to proper warm-ups. I distinctly remember this moment because I confidently replied yes, only for Paula to interject, “No, you don’t!” Thanks for that, Paula – I was attempting to appear knowledgeable, haha!

Martin outlined the session, and we were off. Fortunately, we weren’t required to embark on a daunting 10-mile run at a 7-minute mile pace. Instead, we were appropriately warmed up and slowly eased into the session.

The session was structured around a simple square marked out with cones. We engaged in various sets, alternating between walking a specific number of sides and running others. It felt manageable and inclusive, even for absolute beginners. Afterward, Martin guided us on a thorough cool down. We concluded with a group photo before heading home, all of us filled with excitement and satisfaction after completing our inaugural Penkridge Runners session. Conversation buzzed all the way home, and it was unanimous – we were all eager to return the following Saturday!

Week by week, PR numbers improved. We trialed various club locations, journeying from the Monckton to Pillaton, then to Wolgarston and eventually settling at the middle school, our longstanding venue. The terrain varied, alternating between grass and tarmac, with some weeks featuring hills and others focused on sprints. Martin’s innovative approach ensured that Penkridge Runners stood out from the crowd, offering a refreshing departure from the typical running club experience.

Before I joined Penkridge Runners, I completed the Donna Louise Trust 10k at Trentham Gardens on 11th May 2014, tackling an off-road(ish) course with a slight incline and finished in 53:49. The accomplishment left me feeling elated, as though I had clinched victory! Eager to further my progress, I signed up for the Chasewater 10k on 29th November 2014. Seeking Martin’s insight on my potential finish time, he estimated around 50 minutes. Surprisingly, I crossed the finish line in 50.07, shaving over 3.5 minutes off my previous 10k time, despite only recently joining Penkridge Runners. Martin’s estimate proved impressively accurate – thanks, Martin!

Russel Breeze in a Runners World Ad

As my passion for running grew, I found myself rotating through numerous pairs of trainers, shorts, t-shirts, vests, running jackets, gloves, hats, watches, and every conceivable piece of gear available to us runners. Paula affectionately dubbed me “Gadget Man” as my collection expanded. To my delight, I even made an appearance in a copy of Runner’s World! They generously provided me with various freebies and captured photos of me in their studio, leaving me feeling like a true celebrity. 😊

Penkridge Runners has been pivotal in my journey, facilitating numerous achievements over the years. It’s not just about setting new personal bests or conquering distances I once deemed unattainable (including completing two marathons). 

The support I received went beyond mere running accomplishments; it bolstered my confidence, enhanced my communication skills, and provided solace during challenging times. The club recognised my dedication and knowledge growth, granting me the honour of becoming a run leader. Though my running has diminished due to work commitments, Penkridge Runners remains an integral part of my life. Whether participating in Couch to 5K programmes, organising sessions, or simply joining in when time allows, the club holds a permanent place in my heart.

Thank you, Martin. Long live Penkridge Runners.

You might also like...

Join Penkridge Runners

This website is using cookies.

To provide you with a better experience, we use cookies on our web pages. By using this website, you agree to our Cookie Policy.