Powered up by Positivity- the ‘Inspirational Community Champions’ running club
Run Leeds had the absolute pleasure of meeting Danny Barnes, one of the co-founders of the Drighlington Dynamo’s Running Club. Danny, and his wife Louise, recently took home the Leeds 2023 Sports Award, for the category ‘Inspirational Community Champions’. After a couple of hours chatting to him, it is easy to see why. Danny’s passion for running and desire to help and support others to be more active, is as clear and bright as a Dynamo bike light!
What initially began as a couch to 5k, to get members of the local community to be more active, enjoy the outdoors, improve mental health and promote a healthier lifestyle, very quickly became an overnight success.
The popularity of the club has continued to grow. Over the past year or so, the run club has developed, and now has over six hundred Facebook members. Around 70% of the run club is female, which is somewhat unusual for the running world, but represents the growing tide of female runners who want to run, all year round, when the evenings are dark, and feel that there is safety in numbers.
All pretty impressive for a club set up entirely by volunteers from the community. With a current committee of just five people to organise sessions and oversee the admin, Danny is keen to point out that without this group of hard-working and dedicated people, the club wouldn’t be able to operate as smoothly and successfully as it does.
When asked to explain the possible reasons for the rapid growth and success of this particular run group, Danny’s response suggests a multitude of reasons. Perhaps it was down to timing and circumstances of when the club was initially set up, with lockdown limiting gym and indoor options. Or the close-knit nature of Drighlington community. Or maybe the variety of sessions they have on offer to cater for all types of runner and walker.
However, I suspect that the main success of this group is attributed largely to the co-founders – Danny and Louise, whose warm welcome, inclusive focus, and hard work behind the scenes, have made this more than just a group of people that run or walk together. They have created a place where everyone is made to feel welcome, no matter what age, shape, size, ability or background. They have clearly put a lot of effort into overcoming the barriers that might prevent someone from wanting to join a run club, fearing it is for ‘elite’ runners only.
Danny is also keen to make sure that anyone new joining the group is met with a personal welcome and will be given a run buddy in that run group. The same level of care and attention is given when someone hasn’t attended for a while, with a quick message or call to make sure everything is ok, whether they are injured or life is just too hectic to train, Danny reminds them that the club will be there when they are ready to come back.
When talking about the members of the Drighlington Dynamo run club, there is a genuine warmth and pride that Danny clearly has, regarding all aspects of the club. From the talent of some of the more competitive runners to the community spirit and dedication shown by the more social runners and walkers. Such as the three sisters who run together for a catch up each week. Everyone is celebrated in this club, in the same way that everyone is welcomed. The Drighlington Dynamos really are a run club powered by positivity.
So, what next for the Drighlington Dynamos? Possibly hosting their own race event? Whatever it is, you can be sure it will be fun, friendly and inclusive.
Read the full article published on Run Leeds here and find out how to get involved in this new inclusive group!