Making a difference: National award for the girls in the Warwick district that just like to run

Lauren Gregory and the Run Like A Girl team. Photo taken by Runners World.
Lauren Gregory and the Run Like A Girl team. Photo taken by Runners World.

The founder of a community running group in the Warwick district has been named as one of the UK’s top 50 movers for 2019.

Lauren Gregory, who founded the award-winning running group Run Like A Girl, has made it on the ‘Mover List’ which is created by Lucozade Sport and The Independent.

Run Like A Girl group photo. Photo submitted

Run Like A Girl group photo. Photo submitted

According to The Independent, the list aims to ‘recognise 50 individuals whose volunteering, charity work or dedication to sport and exercise inspires local communities to move more’.

Now not only has Lauren made the top 50 list, she has also been chosen as one of the 10 in that 50 that will feature in a more in-depth profile.

Lauren founded Run Like A Girl (RLAG) in July 2015 to help encourage women how to run with beginners courses in Leamington and Warwick.

Despite being named in the list, which was published last week, Lauren said the honour is very much a group effort.

Run Like A Girl group photo. Photo submitted

Run Like A Girl group photo. Photo submitted

She said: “The list recognises individuals and as the founder they chose me, which is flattering but it’s a group effort and the credit goes to us as a group.

“Liv Boucher, who is a group manager at RLAG, puts in just as much as I do and we have a team of 20 running leaders who are all volunteers.

“Liv was one of the original beginners who went through the course and she is now a group manager. She represents how RLAG can change you.

“To be named in the 50 list made up of people from the whole of the UK and to put in the same list with people like Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who founded Parkrun, is amazing.

Run Like A Girl group photo. Photo submitted

Run Like A Girl group photo. Photo submitted

“The judges were made up of people like Anthony Joshua and the fact that they looked at our group and decided for us to be in the top 50 as well as being in the list of 10 that are being profiled is incredible.

“The recognition goes to the volunteers and the group members who give unconditional support to each other with no judgement and no criticism.”

Liv added: “It is an honour to be recognised. I started as a beginner and in four to five months I became a running leader straight away.”

Lauren, who is a personal trainer, not only founded RLAG as a way to help people get active but to also help people’s mental health.

Run Like A Girl group photo. Photo submitted

Run Like A Girl group photo. Photo submitted

She said: “I ran for fitness but when I had my first child I found running gave me a chance where I could get my own head space. It grew apparent how important it was for me on a mental health level and for me as a mother. I wanted others to experience that.”

Now RLAG also has some run leaders who are also ‘mental health champions’ and work with England Athletics to help people use running as a way towards better mental health.

Reflecting back on how the group has grown, Lauren said: “Before the first session in July 2015 I advertised it on social media and it took off from there. At our first session in St Nicholas Park in Warwick we had about 23 runners and I was so pleased to have so many.

“At the first session my friend Rebecca Chumin, who was also a co-founder, came along and she had been running for a while.

“She decided to be the tail runner and that went down really well and people said that they liked having someone at the back.

“We have a tail runner at every session so no one gets left behind.

“In September 2015 we had 93 runners. In 2016 we grew very quickly. In spring 2016 we had 300 people turn up in St Nicholas Park. The word had got out and people were telling their friends and family about it. We grid-locked Warwick.

“We also had a course at Coventry Sky Blues for a couple of years. We did have to stop that in the end but it would be great to grow again at some stage.”

Since it started RLAG has helped thousands of women learn to run.

Lauren and Liv said: “We have had around 3,000 women who have gone through the different groups. It’s so nice getting to meet so many different people – people who are of all abilities and of all walks of life.

“People want to run but don’t know how to and we specialise in getting people off the sofa and getting active.

“As well as the beginners course we also have an ‘improvers group’ too.

“We have seen so many people go from that first step to go on to be able to do a half marathon, marathan or ultra marathon.”

“We are always getting new members and so far we have around 24 people booked onto our new course.

“We now average about 50 people per course but we have been known to take up to 100.”

RLAG has also won a few awards including Best Running Group of the Year West Midlands in 2016 and Best Running Group of the Year Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire in 2018.

A number of race leaders and group leaders have also won a number of awards.

To find out more about RLAG or to join a session go to: http://www.runlikeagirl.org.uk