As our alarms went off early on Sunday morning, and we peered groggily out the window at the emerging sunrise, the Jog Derbyshire team were gearing up for what we knew would be another wonderful year at the Derby 10k.
It’s been a few years since we were there (thanks Covid!) and boy were we excited to be heading back to welcome nearly 300 participants into the Jog Derbyshire room.
For all of us, this event is a special one. There’s something about the atmosphere when so many groups get together which is infectious.
Although we talk a lot about the inspiration group members give to each other, this is the time when that inspiration really hits us too.
Jennie was running it for the first time, having been inspired by the last time we were in the room. Lucy – a Derby 10k veteran – took the decision right up until the last minute thanks to an ankle injury (but we all knew she’d not be able to resist!) and before the race had even begun, Nathan was the latest convert, talking about wanting to sign up next year.
So back in the office (well, virtual Zoom office) we had a chat about why this event in particular has had the power to pull us all in.
From the moment we welcome the first person through the doors of the Jog Derbyshire room, the atmosphere is one of complete happiness.
Welcoming excited, smiling faces at the registration desk, watching people scan the room for team members, greeting each other with warmth and hearing the buzz of noise growing as the room fills up is something else.
Having run the Derby 10k for a number of years prior to joining Jog Derbyshire, it’s already a race with a fond place in Lucy’s heart.
Lucy said: “Since working for Jog Derbyshire all my own feelings of excitement and inclusivity have multiplied! It would be hard to not get swept away with the atmosphere in the Jog Derbyshire room. The excitement, nerves, supportiveness and encouragement. Newcomers, first timers, leaders, people chasing dreams – there is such a buzz! I feel privileged to be a part of it.”
For Jennie, it brought back memories of the last time we were here. She said: “I remember standing at the window, watching the sea of people making their way to the start line and thinking, I wish I was going out with them. I had such a feeling that I was missing out. At that point in my running journey I don’t think the thought of running 10k had ever entered my head but I still wanted to be out there. This year I felt like an excited kid, skipping around the room with a big smile on my face, fully swept up in the atmosphere of it all.”
As time took us closer to the start of the race, the atmosphere had soon enveloped Nathan too. “I want to do it now”, he announced with a big smile on his face and as we were tidying up later on in the morning chat moved on to the practicalities of how he might enter next year.
Underneath the huge atmosphere, the Jog Derbyshire room is really just a place where everyone is welcome and made to feel a part of something. Each person in that room has their own journey, their own story and their own plan for the race, but everybody is equal.
“I used to think about running as an individual thing”, admitted Nathan, “but here it’s about coming together. No matter how fast a runner you are everyone is being treated with the same respect.
“It made me think, there’s no reason I couldn’t go and do that.”
Jennie added, “being in this room, at this event, I feel like I really belong. And for someone who isn’t particularly always comfortable in big social groups, that’s quite a big thing for me to say. You feel like you could have a conversation with anyone in the room and have a common ground or story to share.”
As the excitement spills outside towards the warm up, start line and along the route, it’s clear why the race is such a perfect fit for the Jog Derbyshire ethos.
From the beginner-friendly flat route to all the support along the way. People were there to support everyone too, not just those they knew. A little boy shouted out bib numbers, people stood with an outstretched bowl of sweets, others held out their arms for celebratory high fives and cars beeped their horns.
For Lucy, it’s not just any old route. As her nearest city, Derby is a special place for her to run round. She said: “After the course leaves Pride Park every corner turned ignites a different memory for me. Nights out in Zanzibar as a late teen, shopping trips as a child on St Peters Street and the route takes us straight past the place where my husband proposed. Lots of happy memories along the way and time to think about them that you somehow don’t get when you’re whizzing by in a car.”
“I love to hear the different Jog Derbyshire teams motivating each other along and everywhere you look along the way there is a Jog Derbyshire participant. It is simply amazing and for me it captures Jog Derbyshire perfectly. Lots of smiles, no judgement and people being there for others, helping each other to be the best they can be.”
For first timer Jennie, the route was an opportunity to really enjoy running. She said: “I think this is the first time I’ve truly enjoyed running a 10k without constantly clock watching and wondering how much further there was to go. The miles just seemed to wizz by because there were constantly things making me smile and feel good.”
Once back across the finish line, the support and celebrations continued. Faster runners joined spectators to cheer their team mates across the finish line, group members looked for each other amongst the crowds and greeted each other with hugs, smiles and fist bumps and many happy selfies were snapped to capture the moment.
Whilst stories were swapped about times and PBs, each announcement was met with the same amount of enthusiasm as the last. Numbers didn’t really matter but personal pride and achievement was everything.
Nathan said: “People were walking back up the stairs all happy and making jokes.
“It was really inspiring – it’s easy to say that – but I think that’s it.”
Same time next year?
We already can’t wait to be back again next year. Wonder who the event will inspire next time?