Man up to run­ning

Runner's World (UK) - - Human Race - oaks­

Women-only run­ning groups are plen­ti­ful, but a male-only one is a rare thing. So what drove David Palmer to set up Oaks Blokes? ‘My wife told me to!’ jokes the 54-year-old from Sevenoaks, Kent. ‘Some of the women in her run­ning group were ask­ing if there was some­thing their hus­bands could do to gain sim­i­lar fit­ness and well­be­ing ben­e­fits.’

David was a mem­ber of the lo­cal run­ning club at the time, but felt some­thing was miss­ing. ‘There was lit­tle op­por­tu­nity to so­cialise with other mem­bers un­less they were the same speed as you, and the fo­cus was on com­pe­ti­tion rather than en­joy­ment.’ So David set about of­fer­ing some­thing more fun and friendly. Six run­ners turned up for the first Oaks Blokes ses­sion in Septem­ber 2009. Now there are more than 75 mem­bers. Many, says David, are from one of the hard­est- to-reach de­mo­graphic: mid­dle-aged work­ing men with kids ‘who have been so fo­cused on work they have al­lowed their fit­ness to slip. On Satur­day morn­ings, be­fore dad-taxi du­ties be­gin, they come to run, chat with other blokes from all walks of life and, af­ter­wards, put the world to rights over cap­puc­ci­nos.’

While David ad­mits there are some al­pha males among his mem­bers they still run as a group, of­ten with the fastest and slow­est hav­ing a chat. ‘There’s usu­ally an un­of­fi­cial sprint over the last half a mile – you can’t take all the “man” away,’ he says. In­tro­duc­ing so many men to the joys of the sport has been im­mensely re­ward­ing for long-time run­ner David and, he says, there’s al­ways some­one around who’s up for a curry or a beer.

RUN­NING MEN David (front row, third from right) and the Oaks Blokes

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