It wasn’t just the elites winning awards at the 2019 scottishathletics awards in Glasgow on Saturday night.
The winners of jogscotland's four awards were also announced – all people who exemplify the determination, achievement and sheer enjoyment that jog leaders and joggers are a part of across the country, all year round.
Marie Dobson was awarded the prize for Jog Leader of the Year.
A jog leader with Newmachar Running Group almost since it started, Dobson previously overcame breast cancer, but was more recently diagnosed with incurable secondary cancer, affecting her bones. She is determined to get the most out of life, however – and that includes continuing to inspire and encourage her joggers. When she was told she could no longer run, the group raised funds and bought her an electric scooter, and now she attends her jog group riding alongside them, motivating and supporting them as much as she always has. "She remains one of the most positive people you could meet, cares for everyone else before herself, and strives to make each member of the group to feel good about themselves and their achievements."
The Anster Allsorts, who truly cater for all abilities, were crowned Jog Group of the Year.
In addition to their jogging sessions, this year the group established Walksorts, a walking group that enables non-runners, returners and injured joggers to keep active. They reward achievement at all levels with the monthly Bertie Bassett challenge, offering prizes for the most improved. Taking running seriously but with the emphasis on the friendships made, everyone sharing a cuppa after their run, and initiatives like a book swap between members.
The Allsorts also took part in jogscotland’s "I’m Here" pledge this year, with jog leaders taking SAMH mental health awareness training and pledging to encourage conversations about mental wellbeing at their group. In addition to supporting, numerous charities, including an annual food bank collection the group also supports a research study with University of St Andrews to encourage GPs to prescribe jogscotland groups to their patients.
Bob Strathie, who joined FIT Together’s beginner jogging group in February at the age of 71, having never been a runner before, was proclaimed Achiever of the Year.
Strathie had always been a keen walker and was eager to join the group and see what he could do. He quickly rose to the challenge of sessions of all types, undaunted by hill reps, fartleks, and the like. By May, he was ready for his first parkrun, completing in a little over 34 minutes – though he was too busy blethering to get an official time! He has since reduced his PB to 28:43. His decision to take on a new challenge and his commitment to improve are a real inspiration.
Having herself been bereaved when her mother passed away on Christmas Day 2017, Jill Spink of Marie Curie in Edinburgh, the winner of the SAMH Mental Wellbeing Award, has a first-hand understanding of the impact that grief has on mental health and wellbeing.
As a runner, Spink also knows that being physically active and connecting with others can have a positive effect on emotional health. Spink set up a running group with Marie Curie Edinburgh specifically for bereaved people, to provide support and companionship, as well as the benefits of exercise.
One member said of Spink’s work: “The group helps reduce my anxiety, is a valuable opportunity to socialise ad helps me stay healthy for my children. Jill is that rare type of life-affirming person who helps us honour our departed loved ones by doing the exact thing they would want us to do, and that is to live, rather than just be alive.”
Image: Group of the Year, Anster Allsorts (scottishathletics/Bobby Gavin)