Flatfoot Farewell Note - Eagles' Impact
As loud-mouth / News Contributor for the past year, I thought I’d write a last note to all of you as I’m moving out of this beloved borough. I’m sure you’ll see me haunting club events punctually, but as I’m leaving for a whole other part ofLondon, I won’t be able to pester you all anything as much with my rambling articles.
I’d like to give thanks to all of you, and many particular people for everything you’ve done, but that would quickly get very boring to read, and I’d be bound to forget somebody. So I’ll write this as a homage to all the things this club does well.
Ealing Eagles has barely existed three years, and it has already transformed Ealing by making it fitter, and giving a real support network to its members, both for fitness and friendships more widely. I’ve been involved in a few clubs, and this one is by far the most supportive, completely devoid of the petty rivalry and small-minded competitiveness. As far as I can tell, the main reason for being reluctant to join a running club is the fear of being compared to others like school, but most people who come for their first Eagles run soon find out how wrong they are.
I’ve lived in Ealing for four years, and it took me three of those years to figure out how to combine a time-intensive running routine with a social life. This club has meant I haven’t had to choose between those things.
Gunnersbury parkrun has been the highlight of my social calendar these past 12 months, and it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the extraordinary commitment of the four race directors (all Eagles) as well as the rest of the Eagles who show up come hangovers or sunshine to give up their time for others on a Saturday morning. My sons absolutely love parkrun, and it got my wife Ruth up and running after delivering her second child barely a few months ago because it looked like that much fun. It got me fromLondontoBrighton. I’ve looked forward to it every week, knowing that however little sleep I got that week, I could come out and haul my behind around a park and meet up with some of my favourite people on the planet, every week for free.
This club attracts the sort of people I want to spend my hard-pushed time with. I’m not sure exactly how Alan Brown and the rest of the committee have pulled this off, but the sheer quality of fun, reliable, outgoing people I’ve met through Eagles never ceases to amaze me. The sort of people who can help each other achieve uncommon goals, but don’t take themselves too seriously, or become egomaniacs. Very rare in most places; very commonplace in this club.
So those are a few of the many highlights of being in this club. Here’s what I’d love for its future.
Club history is really important. The reason I wanted to write articles and race reports for the website was to record all the fabulous things we are doing so that in decades to come, somebody can dust it all off and marvel at it. We think it’s ordinary to be so committed and willing to help each other achieve our goals. It isn’t.
Please get people to contribute articles for the newsletter and the website, as well as records of the gorgeous photos taken by those who have be so good about that. Get the New Inn to devote a wall to the club, and frame some cut-outs of those Ealing Gazette articles written about us. Someday it’ll all matter.
As you know, I’ve loved the idea that trail running could be an addition to our training calendar. I know this is a road running club, and most of you want to stick to that in your races, but don’t underestimate the benefits of trail running to goals on the road, namely that trail surface causes less impact and adds a bit of difficulty to the run. If you haven’t tried out Trail don’t Bail, try it! If it survives, even as a monthly fixture, that would be great.
Finally, this club is a charity, and I don’t think enough is made of that. New members need to be reminded that their membership fee goes towards the good work this club does to promote fitness within the club, and organise events for everyone else outside of it. The membership fee is tiny (divide £16 by about 4 training sessions or events per week, by 52 weeks a year: bloody good value!) and everyone who does anything for the club is doing it as a volunteer. The club committee is second to none and none of the people ask for any thanks for the fabulous work they do. Although I wish they would, that restores my faith in humanity no end.
The next time you hear somebody say that the country is going to the dogs, the economy is going to pot and nobody ever does anything for free, you’ll have two options. Number one: try to explain how much friendship, support and altruism comes out of this running club as well as fitness. Option two: quietly smile, and just think how good it feels to be an Eagle.
I’m not going to say how much I’ll miss this club, because I haven’t figured out how on earth I’ll fill the gap. I’ll be back to haunt the big club events, rest assured. Thank you all.
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