Blackburn Road Runners – The Early Years

Sept 1986 – I had been running regularly from the previous February. Like a lot of other people at the time who got caught up in the running boom of the early eighties, IE nearly everyone and there dog seemed to be out running.

An advert appeared in the Telegraph or Citizen ( I forgot which) asking if people around Blackburn area would be interested in joining a running club, if so to contact Alan Boyd, to which I did as it seemed to be the next logical step to take from a running perspective.

The initial meeting place was the pub going out from town on Whalley Old Road just past skew bridge (now known I think as the blue diamond), and about 12 people turned up.

After intro’s etc. there were various ideas about a regular meeting place from which to start running, the obvious which has not changed is of course Witton car park and also the favourite evening being Wednesday at approx. 7:00-7:15 pm. Other issues were raised which it turned out in the few weeks were probably irrelevant by then, most of the “hot air” talked being from people we never saw again!

Also present at that first meeting and definitely not hot air people and were serious about forming a club were:  Pete and vera Allsop, Ronny Smith (the orginial), Keith Butterworth and partner (forget her name), Peter Wolstencroft and wife (ditto), Dougie Joss (if not at this meeting he was a very early member).

Eileen seems to remember running from scapa carpark, but as I remember it I think we actually set off from Witton car park and did about 3 miles or so just to see what people wanted to do or were capable of. As I mentioned before the “hot air people” were nowhere to be seen. I think about 8 or 10 people actually ran, a few more had heard about the club being formed after the initial meeting.

Within a few weeks or so 5 to 7 miles being the norm (Livesey 5 being a favourite), very early on Jimmy Nolan joined as did John Schofield followed by Andy Mcallister about 3 months later.

For a while, as a club we seemed to be doing well attracting more new members who were serious about running, also as always a few whom we never seen again once they realised how difficult running is in the early stages.

About April 1987 Alan Boyd and a few members others organised a relay run around the hospitals in the Blackburn area for charity, most people running about 10 miles a stage each, I think we raised £800 in all. We also di the first 10k run as a club now officially known as Blackburn Road Runners at Clayton le Woods.

The First venue for going for a post run drink was the Butlers Arms at Pleasington also other hostelries were visited in turn over the years: Stakes Hall pub at Mill Hill, Feniscowles recreation & Wm club, St Peters Club Mill Hill…. Finally Cherry Tree Cricket Club.

We were a whole lot younger then and lot more race inspired, most people were focused on having a go at a half and full marathon. Running 8 to 10 miles on a Wednesday night became a regular thing, occasionally 10 to 14 miles, invariable with Jimmy Nolan in front closely followed by Pete Allsopp and Andy McAllister. Most people were of course entering races regularly, although the whole ethos of the club has always been encourage and accept people of all abilities.

After a couple of years or so interest began to wane, we seemed to hit a bad patch sometimes, especially through the winter months only 4 or 5 people turning out regular (diehards). About this time on the club stalwarts John Mitchell joining B.R.R, but in general it got to be so “dire straight’s”, we wondered how we would keep the club going.

Around the early 90’s Fred Frimston joined us and like “a breath of fresh air” brought some new ideas with him a typical ; favourite being the “Run and Eat” in the summer month. It seemed to take off again after that. Dave and Debbie Finn also joined about this time and also Alan, Dave’s brother whom at the time was interested in triathlons, which is how the annual mini tri started.

A few more the names from earlier years:

Andy Cartmel (who sadly presented passed away a few years ago), Lee Taylor, Mark and Alison Theaker, Big Pete Baxendale, Kathy Clarke, Heather Crane.

Later on Kevin Hunter, Steve Holden, Phil White, Cathy Jeffries, Mick Chimejzcuk

If I missed anybody out I am humbly apologise

So B.R.R moved on from strength to strength, as always people come and go etc. “we now come to our 25th year and as you can imagine some of us are showing all the ravages of “Old Father Time” (other less kind variation is “Old Farts”) Most of us being visited by “Uncle Arthritis” usually of the knees (pound, pound, pound) but also the other skeletal favourites as well feet, ankles, hips & back etc. So as the running activates recede , one finds other form of exercise to enjoy i.e. for me cycling swimming and fell walking.

However, I will always remember how much I enjoyed “The Running years” and being a member of Blackburn Road Runners!

Stuart Pepper.

This article is a copy of an article that appeared in the 25 year yearbook about the formation of Blackburn Road Runners.