NEW athletes have moved from the sofa to getting a sweat on thanks to an initiative.

After a year’s enforced break due to Covid restrictions, Deestriders was able to bring back its popular Couch to 5k programme in the New Year.

In the past couple of weeks, the Green Army has been proud to congratulate ten 'couchies' from its programme as they successfully complete the 5k distance, culminating in graduation at the Chester parkrun for those able to go.

Starting in January with sessions on Tuesday and Thursday nights organised by the club and well supported by existing members, participants followed a walk-run course, also doing a third weekly session in their own time, with the walking sections gradually giving way to running.

Some of the group had never run before, with others returning to the sport after a time away, but all saw significant improvement and shared a huge sense of achievement as they reached the sought-after 5k goal.

They thoroughly enjoyed the sessions - even if sometimes after the event - and found themselves made welcome by the Deestriders and supported to reach their target.

Graduate Elaine Hewitt said: “It’s been tough at times but well worth all of the effort in the end.

"The Deestriders are kind, considerate, supportive and give you so much encouragement to carry on when you feel like jacking it all in.

"They have given me the urge and conviction to carry on running.”

Gilly Mayes, who completed the warm Chester course recently in an impressive 32 minutes, added: “The Couch to 5k programme really gave me back my enthusiasm for running and realise that we could achieve our goals with the support offered by Deestriders.

"Every single member has been patient, supportive and positive - this is a wonderful club that encapsulates the fun and mental / physical benefits of running.”

Those who’ve gone before them were only too happy to be there in support throughout.

Vikki Foulkes, from the class of 2019, said: “We graduates totally agree, that's why we are still with the club, through the dreaded pandemic and beyond. Welcome to Deestriders.”

Indeed, whilst there was no requirement or expectation to join at the end of the programme, the response from the former couchies in terms of taking up the offer of a free three-to-four week trial period has been exceptional, with many already having had their first developers sessions.

The group on a Tuesday and Thursday night is suitable for new and slower runners looking to build mileage and confidence.

Some 'couchies' have already signed up to join as members, where they will be able to continue their running adventures.

Deestriders organise weekly sessions for a range of abilities and terrains on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Contact the club through its Facebook public page or email for more information.

At the most recent Erddig parkrun, Wrexham AAC's Andy Jones finished third in 20.08.

Clubmates John Atkinson (22.33) and David Millington (22.48) followed in 11th and 13th respectively, with Peter Hughes crossing the line 21st in 24.03.

Other Wrexham AAC members taking part were Peter Sussex (27th in 25.06), Karl Moore (37th in 26.20), Jane Atkinson (47th in 28.07), Ian Atkinson (48th in 28.07), Philip Walker (63rd in 29.53), Macsen Walker (77th in 31.22), Tony Vesty (120th in 38.02), Amanda Neal (121st in 38.03), Bethan Roberts (125th in 38.09), Peter Norman (127th in 39.18) and John Tipping (136th in 47.38).