SUNDERLAND Harrier Dave Savage picked up three awards at the first North East Run England presentation night at Gateshead International Stadium.
In the first full year of England Athletics’ new recreational running programme, Run England has seen more than 1,000 new runners registered in the North, who are supported by 90 running groups.
They are all delivered by qualified leaders, like 42-year-old Savage, who won the leader of the year trophy and a bottle of champagne for his sterling work over the year.
Despite being a complete newcomer to the sport, Savage quickly gained his leadership qualifications and launched the SeafRUNt Smilers at Seaburn.
This was Sunderland’s very first Run England group with the aim of providing a stepping stone for greater fitness for complete beginners. Many of the group has now moved on to run in 5k and 10k charity runs.
The Smilers have a steady team of 25-30 runners and Savage has had to put on additional evening sessions to cater for the increased demand.
Savage said: “To be nominated for three awards was a great surprise but to be runner-up in two and win the Run England Leader of the Year was a massive bonus for me – I don’t think my Facebook status has had so many likes!”
His nomination said: “David has created and developed a running group which nurtures personal self-confidence, instils a belief in teamwork, improves people’s health and has seen many new friendships blossom.
“Some members have commented on their weight loss, others are really happy to be able to run for a period of time without stopping, and virtually all of the group now take part regularly in the Sunderland 5k parkrun.’’
One member of the group added, “As someone completely new to running, I joined the SeafRUNt Smilers in October 2010. Since then I have managed to run 5K and 10K races.
“This is all due to the dedication and commitment of David leading the group. He understands the beginner and never pushes anyone too far.
“I can’t thank him enough for the impact he has had on my health and wellbeing since I joined the group.”
Savage’s two runners-up awards came in Services to Volunteering and for the Run England Group of the Year.
Anyone interested in joining Savage and his beginners running group can find more information via the Run England website http://www.runengland.org.
Meeting times are Monday and Thursday’s at 6.15 -7pm at Seaburn Leisure Centre. Contact: Savage on 5670382.
Eddie Maddison is another Sunderland Harrier that holds a Run England group at Silksworth Sports Complex on Tuesday and Thursday’s at 6.45pm. Tel 07939 289517.
H Sunderland Harriers’club secretary Michael Hill has won his second Sherman Cup medal after a wait of 30 years. It was at Newcastle’s Town Moor that he was a member of the under-17 team that was part of the Sunderland’s medal winning squad. Then last week as an over-45 veteran he won a team bronze medal for being the a counter for the veterans’ team.
H Derwentside Athletics Club stage the Hellhole multi-terrain race on an out and back course over roughly the 10k course on Sunday at 10am. It takes in the Hellhole Wood section near Stanley. Changing is at the Louisa Centre, Front Street, Stanley. Entry fee is £10, £12 unattached.