Case study – Glasgow FrontRunners – affiliating with scottishathletics

Glasgow FrontRunners began life as a jogscotland group, and is now also affiliated with scottishathletics. Here we chat to the group, to find out more about what is involved, and the benefits they’ve found from being both a jogscotland group and a scottishathletics-affiliated club.

How did Glasgow FrontRunners start?

FrontRunner groups first started in America as part of LGBTI. Two of the original GFR members had a friend who was a member of Manchester FR. Three of us ran with MFR one evening and were so impressed by the friendliness of the club, as well as its aims and ethos, that we decided to set up our own club in Glasgow. Independently, another original member had met some New York FrontRunners at the Berlin Marathon the year before and had made contact with Manchester FR for advice on how to start a group in Glasgow. When the three met, the plan started to come to fruition.

We knew people who ran with jogscotland and incorporated some of the structure and ethos of JS, for example the warm-ups and cool-downs, alongside that which had been gained from MFR, into the structure of our sessions at GFR. We wanted to incorporate socialising into the running club, to allow runners to get to know and support each other on their running journeys, so food after runs was a key part of each session. We had our first run in August 2010, formed a committee soon afterwards, sent two committee members along to a jogleader training course the following month, and jogscotland affiliation came shortly afterwards.

Why did the Glasgow Frontrunners decide to affiliate to scottishathletics?

We knew from the outset that we wanted to become properly established in order to affiliate with both International Front Runners and jogscotland. Although we were very much a running club in its infancy at that time, it was our ambition to participate in organized races, and so affiliation with Scottish Athletics was necessary in order to set ourselves up as a club through which members could enter races and for the registration of our club running colours. Scottishathletics membership brings with it prestige and credibility and we also benefit by securing places at events such as the London Marathon and securing permits for events. 

What steps did you take to become a club in terms of governance etc?

The core original members of the club formed a committee of seven, with designated roles (initially President, Secretary, Treasurer, Race and Training Secretary, Communication and Development Secretary and two Social Secretaries). Over a period of a few months, we developed a constitution (on the basis of other similar clubs) and had that approved by Scottish Athletics and International Front Runners. We designed running colours and, at our first AGM, formally elected the committee members. Over time, we developed policies and procedures, and codes of conducts for our members, which sit on our web site. We also opened a bank account in the club’s name.

By being affiliated to scottishathletics, did you change the way you were set up in terms of running groups and what you offer to the athletes?

jogscotland membership and the training of jog leaders, alongside support from scottishathletics allowed us to reflect upon our initial provision, to develop this to cater for our developing runners. Our initial set-up featured runs at different distances with one jog leader catering for each group. Feedback and reflection meant we adapted this model to cater for the varying abilities of the groups. scottishathletics affiliation gradually brought benefits, but it has only been in the last couple of years, with Coach in Running Fitness coaches on board that we have adapted to provision to include that which might be found at other scottishathletics clubs. We continue to be a hybrid between jogscotland and scottishathletics, catering for absolute beginners through the couch to 5k programme whilst developing our other athletes to reduce their times at races. To encourage athletes, we also have an events calendar to give the athletes a focus to train towards.

Have you faced any challenges setting up or becoming an affiliated club?

Initially, we stuck fairly closely to the template constitution that was provided by scottishathletics. We incorporated a few changes to take account of International Front Runners requirements, and on the basis of comparison with other similar clubs (e.g. Manchester FR). So, there were no significant challenges in becoming affiliated. In terms of setting up, we grew quite quickly through word of mouth and social media. Administering the club on a weekly basis took quite a bit of time: attendance checking, banking cash, ordering and selling running vests etc. Understanding what is required in terms of administration of the club was the main challenge.

How many members are in the club?

At the end of the membership year we had over 160 members.

What disciplines does the club cater for/take part in? eg. track and field, road racing, cross country, hill running and so on.

We currently focus on road running. Our main provision is 5k, 7.5k, 10k and 15k runs. We provide training blocks for runners such as the Coach to 5k, 5k to 10k, half-marathon and marathon training. Additionally, our coaching sessions focus on speed work, hill training, track sessions and strength building.

Are you aware of the benefits club the club can receive as being affiliated with scottishathletics?

The coach education courses are of benefit. However, I have spoken to the National Club Manager who explained the support the club can receive from governance through to competitions and coaching structures etc.

The coach education has been a great help to us as we have a good number of great volunteers who give up their time to help support and develop the athletes in our club. Having jog leaders has allowed us to start up beginner groups as well as lead runs while our Coaching in Running Fitness coaches deliver interval sessions etc to those athletes who want to improve further

What have been the benefits of having a jogscotland section within your club?

jogscotland has given us a supportive ethos for developing new runners. It allows us to be part of something bigger, learn from other groups, be found on the jogscotland website when new runners are looking for a club. It helps to attract beginners into the club, receive publicity, for example when two of our runners won the Achiever of the Year Award. We also gain support for administration and governance, through PARQ forms, insurance and the training of new jog leaders. We deliver events such OUTrun and receive support through jogscotland for these.

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