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With the Hornsey YMCA 10k and Children’s Fun Run fast approaching, many participants will be turning their thoughts to training.

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For many, joining a running club might seem a step too far, even quite intimidating. But Alison Harrow, club coach at London Heathside running club - known as ‘North London’s friendliest athletics and running club’ - wants to dispel this view.

Alison has been organising training sessions for the annual 10k and Fun Run for the last seven years at the Hornsey-based club.

She said: “Sometimes people think we’re for elite athletes but it’s not like that at all. We are just as interested in those that are new to running and encourage people to be confident going at their own pace.”

TV presenter Aggie Mackenzie, 56, who starred in How Clean Is Your House? alongside Kim Woodburn, joined the club while training for a 5k race, and hasn’t looked back.

“It is a very good group and the ability range is quite diverse. It’s very friendly. You are competing against yourself. She makes it clear that it is not a race and you only go as fast as your body wants to go.

“But she’s a good leader in that she gets people working hard!”

Liz Cross, 55, a business development consultant from Wood Green, also swears by the running club sessions to help her get in shape for the 10k.

She said: “I did them last year and would not contemplate running the 10k this year without them.

“They are fantastic because the cost is only £2 per session and the trainers are very experienced runners.

“I always feel that I have done far more than I ever could running on my own or with friends.”

Alison added: “It’s quite a social activity, but as we train towards the 10k run I do push them a bit more! Often people make friends with each other and meet for a run outside the sessions.”

In preparation for the Fun Run, the group of about 40 train weekly for eight weeks, and are currently in their fifth. People of all abilities are welcome to join in, says Alison, herself a former director of the Fun Run.

The group meets on Tuesdays at 7.30pm at the YMCA Harringay Club, opposite Hornsey station in Tottenham Lane, Hornsey.

For more information contact Alison or Barbara on 07784 124316 or clubdevelopment@londonheathside.org.uk

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