COMPLETING the Couch to 5k challenge transformed the lives of Alex Alvarez-Bleasdale and her mother Michele Heys and now they volunteer to run the programme.
Alex’s sister Cheryl Goodman, who then worked for Up and Active, was running the sessions at Marl Pits in Rawtenstall around six years ago and she asked her family to sign up.
For Alex and Michele it literally changed their lives.
Alex said: “My mum and I now run 7.5k races and we just did a run in Blackburn with two of my children.
“My mum is 69 in January and she has never been fitter. She is now talking of celebrating her 70th by completing a 10k run. She used to have problems with her knees but not anymore.
“I love the bling and like collecting the medals.”
When Up and Active’s funding for the Couch to 5k ended, Alex and Michele volunteered to keep the programme going for Rossendale Leisure Trust because they saw how much benefit people got from taking part.
Alex said: “We run the programme twice a week on a Monday and Wednesday and people sign up for 10 weeks. The next sessions will begin on Monday October 2.
“On the first week we do a five-minute walk and then run for a minute and we just work it up until the final week when they all run the full 5k.
“There is always going to be someone who finishes the 5k run last, but everyone waits and they join them on their final lap so everyone finishes it together.”
The sessions are so popular another mother and daughter have completed six full courses so far.
It is suitable for anyone of any age, children are welcome to attend with a parent or guardian, and the full 10 weeks costs £10.
Alex said: “I am always so proud of everyone who takes part. The maximum we can take is 80 and we run in rain, hail, sunshine – and the new running track is so much better.
“We get an awful lot of people who don’t think they will be able to do it at the start and the first time they do the 5k they can’t believe it.
“A lot of people come here with a purpose – we have one who is doing a triathlon and she wanted to get a 5k run under her belt.
“We have received some lovely gifts from people who say they wouldn’t have been able it if we had not got the believed in them and encouraged them.”
To book a place on the next Couch to 5k contact Marl Pits Leisure Centre 01706 226850.
Cathrine Smyth Media.