ATHLETICS: Ladies bid bon voyage to coach Ruth

Goodbye to Ruth Waugh (centre) from the Ladies' Running Group
Goodbye to Ruth Waugh (centre) from the Ladies' Running Group

Emotional last track session for running group co-founder

The Ladies’ Running Group at Rugby and Northampton Athletic Club bid a fond farewell to founding coach Ruth Waugh on Saturday as she heads off to warmer climes.

After leading an emotional final track session, Ruth was ushered into the clubhouse where Kay Shaw led the speeches.

Tears flowed as Ruth was presented with a Special Recognition Award for her continued efforts over the seven years since the group’s inception.

There was laughter too as coach Marian Allen read ‘An Ode to Ruth’. Penned by fellow coach Heather McLaren, it recalled amongst others the occasion when there had been a ‘small’ mix up between kilometres and miles; needless to say the ladies have never, and will never, let her forget that one.

Ruth co-founded the Ladies’ Running Group with Kay Shaw early in 2009. Seven years and many miles later, Ruth has decided that it is time to move on but she leaves behind a legacy that includes ten Beginners’ courses, seven Ready Steady Fun Runs and thousands of pounds raised for charity.

Hundreds of ladies have found themselves pounding the streets of Rugby alongside Ruth as they have conquered distances from 5k to Ultra Marathons.

Group member Zahia Milsom remembers running with Ruth: “When she runs with you, you always work that little bit harder,” she said.

“She says she’ll run at your pace but she’s actually always a step or two faster and you’re trying to keep up. Before you know it you’ve finished your run with a new personal best!”

The success of the group quickly exceeded everyone’s expectations and when Ruth and Kay were asked to run a second Beginners’ course in 2010 it was clear that more coaches would be needed.

Kay explained: “The obvious choice was to ask those who had ‘been there, done that’ and so the extra coaches were all drawn from amongst those ladies who had run the previous year.

“What better example to the new runners than those who were in their shoes just 12 months before.”

The current coaching team have all been plucked from among the group’s members and hope to continue the supportive ethos of the group as it continues to grow year on year.

As well as getting ladies running, a key element of the group is keeping ladies running.

Beyond the initial Beginners’courses, the support continues to 10K and beyond with personalised training advice, motivation and lots of fun.

Highlights of the running group’s calendar include the spooky Witches and Wizards run around Coombe Abbey and the Annual Santa Run which is now organised by the Ladies’ Running Group in collaboration with the Rotary Club.

Supporting the members has always been high on Ruth’s agenda. She has travelled far and wide as members have taken part in marathons in London, Liverpool, Chester, Manchester and Brighton. Such support is always welcomed by the ladies.

First time marathon runner Tina Wilkins said: “You get to a point when you’re willing yourself to see a friendly face in the crowd as you’re running, especially once you get passed the 20-mile mark.

“To see Ruth’s beaming smile and hear her calling your name is such a boost! You know you have to finish to show your appreciation for all the help and support.”

The annual Rugby Ready Steady Fun Run was initially conceived by Ruth and Kay as a target 5K race for their first intake of Beginners.

The run continues to be used as the ‘graduation ceremony’ of the annual Beginners’ course and plans are already under way for this year’s run.

In 2014 Ruth and Kay were proud to be nominated as Citizens of the Year at the Pride of Rugby Awards; a nomination that hundreds of ladies would agree is thoroughly deserved.

Ruth may be moving on but the running continues as the next Beginners’ course starts on Saturday, January 30.

For details email ladies runninggroup@gmail.com.