A group of Shropshire runners who came together during the Covid-19 lockdown last summer have marked their first anniversary by completing a 10k challenge – and spoken of the huge boost it has given to their physical and mental health.

Bowring Runners was created by Donna Miles, owner of the café in Bowring Park, Wellington. She was keen to get back into running, and put out a call on social media to see if any local people were interested in joining her.

Expecting maybe one or two people to get in touch, she was amazed to find 85 people step forward, and the group has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Over the past year, Bowring Runners members have completed the Virtual London Marathon, various half marathons, the Telford T50 50 Mile Relay, and celebrated their first anniversary by completing the Shrewsbury 10k race.

The group now has five qualified run leaders and offers six runs during the week. Runs are suitable for complete beginners to those wanting to challenge themselves - all led by a qualified run leader.

Paul Kalinauckas, who helped to set it up, said: “Our emphasis is on improving your health and wellbeing. Our runs are suitable for any pace and are more chatty, social runs where you will quickly make friends.

“It’s completely free of charge and we are grateful to Energize for helping us obtain funding from the Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund to pay for training our Run Leaders.”

Active partnership Energize Shropshire Telford & Wrekin says it is delighted to see the group get off to such a flying start.

Jess Lightwood, empowering communities manager, said: “Our role at Energize is to identify and then empower community groups like Bowring Runners who can create a sustainable model for supporting many people in the local area to walk, run, make friends and stay active to benefit their overall health and wellbeing.”

The group is making a real difference to those who are taking part. One of them, Mike, said:

“I started running to help with my mental health as I had spent two years suffering with PTSD and was withdrawing. This group’s positivity, love and support is outstanding. I’m now looking to improve my fitness and increase the distance whilst beating the mental challenges I have. The group works, as everyone helps each other and this is why we probably all still run together a year later.”

Another regular, Hannah, added: “With Bowring Runners, you are able to run with others who are supportive of others’ goals and paces. I’m meeting new people and improving my fitness. I wanted to feel more confident in running . . . and now I do.”

To find out how you can follow in the steps (no pun intended!) of Bowring Runners and help people in your community to be more active together, contact Energize to start your journey.

For more information on Bowring Runners: Join via the Bowring Facebook page, or call Paul Kalinauckas on 07802 385529 or Eleanor Morris on 07730 553478