Running free

Running free

Tommy Boyd loves running. He explains to myView how he got involved in with the Victoria University of Wellington Athletics Club (VUWAC), the challenges of keeping it alive during lockdown, and how you can join up too!

Athletics club captain Tommy Boyd takes in the scenery and endorphins on a seaside run

I joined VUWAC in March 2018 as a third-year student. Having just arrived back from a semester abroad, I was looking to join a club, meet more students, and get back in shape. It turned out that joining a running/athletics club would end up fulfilling all of those wishes! The club runs weekly Monday night runs from the University Recreation centre from 6. 15 pm, and since my first run, I’ve barely missed a session!

The club has two facets, the first being the Run Club which does Monday night runs and other weekly runs. It’s ideal for everyone, from first-time marathoners and casual runners through to seasoned professionals. It’s completely free and no sign-ups are required. Just turn up and run! The other option is to join the VUWAC competitive season. You can sign up as a paid member for a year’s worth of racing around Wellington and New Zealand. 

VUWAC has had a resurgence in recent years, growing its casual and competitive base to numbers that have not seen since the 1990s. In 2019, the club sent three teams to the National Road Relay Championships in Feilding—one of the most important events on the winter running calendar. The senior men’s team came 7th in the A-grade. The club also won Sports Club of the Year at the 2019 Victoria University of Wellington Blues Awards.

The VUWRC family gathers outside University Recreation after a group session

Although running is often a solo sport, I really enjoy the camaraderie it offers. It doesn’t seem like a chore when you’re doing it with other people—even if it’s been through ‘virtual’ racing over the last couple of months. During the lockdown our running community stayed very much alive and well. The Strava app has been a great platform for allowing the club to stay connected, as runners can record and track their own runs, share them with others, and see what others are up to.

Solo runs can be very freeing and therapeutic. You have complete control over how much effort you want to put in and there’s no greater feeling than having the runner’s high mid-way through a run.  

Tommy representing the University at the Wellington Cross-country Championship

While COVID-19 has disrupted much of this year’s winter racing season, Athletics New Zealand has been hosting an open virtual race series since April, where runners record their own times for races. A few of our club runners have also been amongst the University and Tertiary Sport NZ Lockdown League competition, particularly the running! We also sent out a weekly club newsletter over lockdown with training tips, at-home workout ideas, and a few banter-filled interviews to encourage members to stay healthy while keeping them in the loop. The club has encouraged people to join informally as free members until we know what form the remainder of the season will take.

You can find out more about the club on our Facebook page or by following us on Instagram. Feel free to join the Vic Uni Run Club Facebook group as well. 

Tommy Boyd is captain of the Victoria University of Wellington Athletics Club, a staff member at Wellington University International, and a recent BA/BCom graduate.

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