DEESTRIDERS Running Club’s cracking ‘couchies’ have put their best foot forward in a race.

This year has seen a record number of ‘couchies” graduate from Deestriders’ Couch to 5k programme.

A total of 20 individuals completed the 11-week course, with most of those taking on 5k at the most recent Chester parkrun.

Starting in January, people wishing to get off the couch and start or return to running were able to do so with Deestriders on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

The progressive sessions on the Deeside cycle path, supported by club members, saw periods of walking increasingly replaced by running.

Some Deestriders organised weekend sessions for the third run of the week to be done as a group. The Couchies threw themselves into the task with determination, some managing the full distance before the 11 weeks were up.

Graduation on Chester’s B course was a jubilant occasion, and it was wonderful to hear the personal stories of the former Couchies.

“Boy, did this group deliver... I feel I could now progress to running more than a 5k,” said Elaine Thomson, who ran 32.26 on the big day, taking over two minutes off her previous best.

Abby Thurland decided to give running a go after a shoulder injury put paid to her gym training. Despite having never run before starting Couch to 5k, her natural talent shone through as she covered the parkrun in 30.20.

Graduates now have the opportunity to continue their running journey with Deestriders if they so choose, with two 5k groups available for training on Tuesday and Thursday nights they could now go straight into.