Lake City Athletic Club's Free Beginners' Running Clinic is aimed at getting people active and healthy. On Thursday, sports reporter David Beck joined in on the last session of the year to get a feel for what it was all about.
For the last two months, a group of Rotorua residents have been getting together and discovering their true potential.
Participants in the Lake City Athletic Club's Free Beginners' Running Clinic come from all walks of life and took up the opportunity to discover what they are capable of.
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On Thursday, when members of the group met at Waipa for the last session of the year, it felt like a group of people who have known each other for years coming together. Even for myself, an unfamiliar face to most, there was a smile and a warm greeting from every direction.
Sara Mines has always liked the idea of being a runner but wasn't sure how to get started.
"The Tuesday nights actually worked really well for me and my family so I thought I'd give it a go. I was not active at all, I'd walk with the kids and stuff but I would never have thought I could be a runner," she said.
At the very first session, she ran for five minutes and was proud of herself for getting out there and doing it. She stuck to it and with the help of the organisers and the rest of the group there is no doubt she can now call herself a runner.
"It's been amazing, it's unbelievable. Now, I'm doing 35-40 minute runs on my own and I feel like it's a miracle that in six weeks I can go from what I was doing before to what I'm doing now.
"It is so empowering and I feel so much better after every run. Every time I go for a run and I run longer it's amazing. I have the mindset now that it's not about how fast I am or the distance I run - it's just about getting out there and doing it for me, it's my time."
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"I have the mindset now that it's not about how fast I am or the distance I run - it's just about getting out there and doing it for me, it's my time."
After gathering in the Waipa car park, we set off into the forest in two groups. I was in the group running about 3km and it was cool to see the other runners so quickly settle into pairs and trios with others who they clearly knew would run at a similar pace.
I've struggled with running in the past because I would run on my own with nothing to focus on other than how hard it was. It was nice to run with a group, chatting away and having a laugh as we went, because it felt more like a social outing than a stringent exercise routine.
Another one of the runners, Astrid Nuttall, signed up for the clinic for a second year for a simple reason.
"Just to get healthier really and be happier. I love it, I absolutely love it. I love the atmosphere and I love that it's really beginner friendly - it's not intimidating because everyone is at the same point of just starting which I think is really cool.
"I love the atmosphere and I love that it's really beginner friendly - it's not intimidating because everyone is at the same point of just starting which I think is really cool."
"The progress has been huge, I've gone from not being able to run 100m to last weekend, I ran almost 2-1/2 hours. It's been massive."
Nuttall's friend Tessa McNamara was also in her second year.
"I have shocking lungs and I wanted to get my breathing under control and run around and keep up with my kids," McNamara said.
"Having the support of someone else doing it with you is what actually makes it possible. I'm feeling a lot better, I can run around the block, I can do a 10km without my lungs hurting or anything."
Clinic convenor Annemarie Gallagher said the goal was simply to get more people running. There is nothing she loves more than "seeing the light come on" when people realised they were capable.
"Helping people get off the couch and find the joy in running. For me, it's always so much better when you're running with other people. I try to make it really fun as well, we have little challenges we do as well to make running a really positive experience."