Ledbury & District Harriers – Established 2001/2
In September 2001, after the running of the Ledbury Chase, organized by the late Terry Folly, on behalf of Ledbury Rugby Club, Terry asked Bruce Butler, who had just taken part in the event, ‘could we start a running club’, Bruce replied ‘why not write to all the local runners who have taken part’. That’s exactly what Terry did, shortly afterwards, several people who had taken part in the event, or had heard about the possibility of a running club starting, met in the Masefield Lounge at Ledbury Rugby Club, from memory there was Sheila Rowberry, her son and daughter, Glyn Fletcher, Dave Haynes, Bruce Butler, Nikki Hodgkiss & Annie Fox to name but a few. With Terry Folly’s assistance we discussed the possibilities of starting a running club and also assisting the Rugby Club with running the Ledbury Chase.
And so it was decided to give the idea a go and after a few ideas being discussed, ‘Ledbury & District Harriers’ were born, the purpose of the name was to encompass the town and the surrounding villages, Wellington Heath, Eastnor, Much Marcle etc and the Rugby Club would be the clubs base, to enable it to make use of the facilities available, such as car parking, showers and meeting rooms.
Initially the group took on small 3 – 4 mile runs through the streets of Ledbury and through the local countryside. Over the next couple of years the club grew in numbers with the likes of Duncan & Nicky Page, David Horne, Clifford Berry, Roger Parker, Wendy Bevan, Phil Reader, Derek Morgan, Steve Rooke, Barry Thompson, Sarah Coggins and Jenny Jones swelling the ranks.
Eventually the club took over the complete running of the Ledbury Chase, which started and finished at the Rugby Club, an approx 13 mile event which took in footpaths over local farmers fields, minor roads, with the ‘high point’ being the climb to the top of Marcle Ridge at Rushall. Whilst the event only ever attracted approx 120 runners it was well liked by all runners and the work put in by members was well worth it, the Friday afternoon and Saturday before the race was spent by members being dispatched to various fields and lanes to mark the course out.
In 2005 we met with Terry Folly who had been speaking with a one or two local business men with regard to holding a charity event, eventually we were approached by David Houghton with regard to holding an event in Eastnor Deer Park to celebrate 50 years of the Ledbury Rotary Club. This idea grew into a small fun run mainly organized by the Rotary Club and ‘The Magnificent Eastnor Castle Seven’, a seven mile off road race organized by ourselves. Both events went well on a hot, sunny day in July 2005 and the main event received good reviews from both local runners and runners from afar, we were unable to hold the event in 2006, but the event returned in 2007 and has being going ever since attracting approx 140 runners to the race which takes in some of the ‘Land Rover Experience’ course as well as some of the ‘Worcestershire Way’, not a race for many PB’s, but always given good reviews by the runners and in 2009 a reporter from ‘Runners World’ took part and wrote a favourable article for the magazine in the form of a race report plus photo’s, so whilst being in the heart of the Herefordshire countryside, the power of the media and the internet takes this event all over the country.
Sadly, as a small club, running two events took up a lot of members time and so due to the large amount of work it took to ensure the Ledbury Chase worked well, sometimes we had to change the course route, due to farmers planting fresh crops or crops taking over the footpaths!!!, it was decided not to hold the event in 2008 and just concentrate on the race at Eastnor as it was contained within the Deer Park at Eastnor and had no interference from road traffic!!, our only major issue is ensuring gates are well marshaled to ensure none of the deer herd escapes!!.
Over the last few years we have had a settled ‘Senior’ group containing members who have taken part in the London Marathon several times and have achieved sub three hour times and on average these members record times between three – three hours forty minutes for the event.
But as a club our main aim is to attract members of all capabilities and as such since January of this year, under the guidance of Chris Law, the club runs the ‘Easyrunners’ group, this group has attracted complete novices, people who ran on their own and people returning to running, several of them have just taken part in their first event, the ‘Mudrunner’, an event held in the grounds of Eastnor Castle Estate which involves lots of mud and water!!!!, a baptism of fire some would say!!.
Whilst writing this, I must give a big thank you to Kester Wilkinson, a former player for Ledbury Rugby Club and heavily involved with the Mudrunner events who kindly organized six free places for our ‘Easyrunner’ group.
The ‘Easyrunner’ group meets on a Tuesday evening and run for approx one hour and on average run five miles, the next step is to start Sunday morning runs for them to take in longer distances and to encourage them to take part in local races, such as the ‘Muddy Woody Six’, ‘Crocodile Eight, ‘Bugatti Beer Race’ to name but a few and hopefully be able to step up to maybe half marathons such as Dymock, Hereford and Tewkesbury etc.
To summarise, we are a small club, but have a great bunch of members of all abilities with the emphasis of looking after everybody who comes along to run with us from our base at Ledbury Rugby Club, to whom we are very grateful for always making us welcome.
Ledbury & District Harriers look forward to meeting you soon.
Bruce Butler 2012