Where on earth is Halterworth?
I am joining a running club. I'm joining on a "not being expected to either turn up to training or pay a membership fee" basis, but I'll get a membership card that gets me money off race entry fees and money off in sports shops.
What's not quite so sensible is that (1) I don't know exactly where Halterworth is (is it a town? a region? a village? a suburb of somewhere else?), and (2) I think the club is somewhere in Hampshire (in or near Romsey, wherever that is?). I can't see me turning up to training too often. I can't even remember the last time I went to Hampshire. Sometime in the early 90s, perhaps, to catch a ferry from Southampton.
But they have invited me to join, so I will.
How this bizarre invitation to join a random club in Hampshire came about is that I know this guy called Martin through a rugby message board. He runs, and has always been ultra supportive of my attempts to start running. We've never actually met, but he checks up on how I'm doing every so often. He started a three page congratulatory thread about Berlin on the rugby board before I even got back, having been online to check my result*. What I didn't know is that he's the president of what seems to be a fairly new, small running club, which seems to cater for what I will call the less speedy runner. (from the website - "The club is open to all adult runners, although if you are very good we may advise you to join a higher standard club"!)
He said that he's trying to raise their profile by getting reports in the local papers about races their members have done. There seems to be some competition with another local club. So he said that I could join for free if he can claim me as one of theirs and write about Berlin. So in fact, not only am I going to be a member of a running club in Hampshire, but my exploits will be in print for all the good people of Halterworth to read about. Maybe he'd like a follow up report from Amsterdam. I have to keep my public interested.
(I've already had my name in a German newspaper - along with 40,000 others - so why not hit the south coast market too...)
Anyway, I don't have to pay anything out but I will get the discounts that a club membership card brings with it. I'm still a bit wary of joining my local club because they take winning races far too seriously - this lot don't seem to (not that I'll come into physical contact with them too often anyway if the others turn out to be obsessive nutters). I wouldn't be able to get to training with the local clubs anyway, so whether my club is 2 miles down the road or 200, it doesn't make any difference if I'm still in work at 6pm on a Tuesday (to be honest, I would struggle to get to the local club for 6pm even if I left work at 5, which is why I've pretty much ruled it out). I wasn't impressed with the email response I got from the local club, it was detailed but seemed to be a standard reply which wasn't tailored overly to me. For example, I said "I almost certainly won't ever get to training, does this matter?", they said "the best way to decide whether you want to join is to come along to training". And some of the email just seemed a bit patronising to me. Yes, there are some really inspirational people like Tracey Morris who are members, but maybe they just take things that bit too seriously.
I know that the way to get most benefit out of a club is to actually turn up and get proper coaching and do structured training sessions, but I also know that I just can't make it up there in time, whether I want to or not. So I may as well join a club where I at least know someone and feel comfortable with joining in on email lists etc, even if I can't turn up to training. The other option I was considering was joining an online womens running club which has been set up to reflect the fact that traditional running clubs with club sessions don't work for everyone. There's little difference really between that and what I'm doing, so I'll go with Halterworth.
So if you see me in the Romsey Advertiser, yes it is me, and no, I haven't moved down south...
Part of me also wonders whether this is my second chance to get into FLM. Martin has been badgering me for ages about doing London. He knows that I've put in a ballot entry, but he knows as well as I do how unlikely I am to get in through that route. As I understand it, running clubs get a certain number of club entries which they then distribute between their members as they see fit. You never know...
*My mother also reads that rugby board. I hadn't told her about Berlin as such. She knew I was going, but not what I was doing there. I wasn't trying to hide it as such, but trying not to get (a) discouraging comments or, alternatively (b) too much pressure from family about it. I got an email from her yesterday. "Did you run in Berlin?" Erm, just a short jog really...