How the Red Rose Road Runners keep going, from park runs in Preston to marathons in Paris

Members of Red Rose Runners
Members of Red Rose Runners

This group of runners can’t keep still.

Red Rose Road Runners, based in Preston and South Ribble, is certainly growing fast, increasing its membership from 93 people to 563 in the past 10 years.

Members of Red Rose Runners

Members of Red Rose Runners

The club, which was formed in April 1982, has several running sessions across the two areas, serving beginners, fast runners and marathon enthusiasts.

There are groups on a Monday evening, running 5k or 10k through Leyland and Farington; as well as Tuesdays, with members running six to eight miles from Fulwood Leisure Centre; A road run takes place from The Poachers pub in Bamber Bridge on Thursday; and there is a Friday morning road run from Avenham Park, in Preston.

Thursdays also offer three different distances, with a fast and beginners group.

The club offers a 10-week beginners course twice a year.

Members of Red Rose Runners completed the Paris Marathon'Esther is far left'Nikki is third right

Members of Red Rose Runners completed the Paris Marathon'Esther is far left'Nikki is third right

Peter O’Grady, 62, from Hutton, has been a member for five years and joined the committee shortly afterwards, launching the daytime runs.

He also leads the beginners groups.

He says: “The idea of the club has always been to be a social group for runners of all abilities, whether it be fast runners, marathon runner or slow joggers.

“We have some good runners, who win races, but not everyone will win. The club is a place where you can meet people and have a nice chat.

“Membership dipped around 15 years ago but year on year, people keep joining, and we are one of the biggest clubs in the area for running.

“People join for numerous reasons. They see us out and about at different events, such as park runs, or at our usual weekly runs in Fulwood, Farington, or Bamber Bridge. When they see us, they realise not all members are fit, honed athletes. We are all normal people, having a run and chat. I would say I am middle of the road in terms of speed.

“We have various runs throughout the week, so there is a big choice where people can go and there are three different distances and a beginners group on a Thursday.

“We leave Saturdays and Sundays free for park runs and big races.

Peter adds: “Because of the social side of the group, members are confident enough to get together on their own and do marathon training. It is a big commitment, so it is great to have each other as support.”

Some of the marathons have taken runners as far as Paris and Tokyo.

A team of 10 completed the Paris Marathon last month; whilst new recruit Phill Berry took on the Tokyo Marathon in March.

A bit closer to home, Tim Nuttall completed the London Marathon in aid of Derian House Children’s Hospice, in Chorley and another member, Ben Smithers, recently ran 50 miles from Manchester to Liverpool.

Phill’s wife, Nikki, talks about some of the members taking part in the Paris Marathon.

She says: “One member had done it three times in a row, and so we decided to get a big group of us together.

“This was my fifth and final marathon, as I find the training too much and it was Esther Stanier’s first marathon.

“Another member, Faisal Ali, did it three years ago, but didn’t complete it, so he had unfinished business.

“We all completed the marathon. I did it in just under five hours; Lee Lawrenson ran a great time of three hours 39 minutes, followed by Chris Taylor, who did a personal best of three hours 43.

“Ben Smithers and Chris Corrigan crossed the line in under four hours.

“We all do it because we are crazy and love running.

“We love the challenge and having a focus for training.

“Doing marathons abroad become part of your holidays and it is nice to visit all these places.”

For more information about the group, visit