London region RunTogether volunteer award winners announced
The England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards are underway – shining a spotlight on the amazing volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help keep our sport running through such a challenging year.
The second of this year’s virtual Regional Volunteer Awards nights took us to London. Broadcast live online, we were delighted to be able to reward the exceptional and vital contribution that volunteers in the London region have made to Athletics and Running.
Our England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards winners and runners-up for London are…
Run Leader of the Year – London
Winner: Jane Vongvorachoti (Run Higher Collective)
Leader of the Year winner Jane Vongvorachoti helped set up a new group "Run Higher Collective" when the New Balance Run Club shut down as a result of the pandemic. Jane's passion for running, helping others succeed with their goals (both in and outside of running), and care for the team's mental health really helped keep a community together. Her ability to motivate people and willingness to share knowledge with everyone no matter their experience level in running is unmatched. She launched Zoom sessions online for the RHC community to continue learning and keeping running safely with the idea to meet in person again once safe to do so. A Thai Olympian marathoner in the 2016 Rio Olympics, personal trainer at Equinox and most amazingly, a new mother who gave birth to her first baby this year, Jane is also working on her career goals to compete in the 2021 Olympics at an elite level. Coming from a Thai background she inspires BIPOC/BAME runners to come together and be represented within the community. She also mentors other run leaders and coaches, offering guidance about the personal training, fitness and running industry and helping them develop their goals to succeed.
Runner-up: Gary Taylor (Dash For Fitness)
RunTogether Group of the Year – London
Winner: Dash For Fitness
The RunTogether Group of the Year for London award for 2020 goes to Dash For Fitness run by Gary Taylor. A community of people of all abilities and backgrounds, Gary has made sure that the group is known for being friendly and inclusive. New members are welcomed, supported and quickly integrated into the group where everyone wants people to do their best. The combination of peer support, non-competitiveness and overall friendliness keeps everyone coming back every week. It would have been the easiest option during the current COVID-19 pandemic for the group to disburse but, in fact, the group has grown closer and stronger with virtual runs and group challenges. The seamless transition from actual runs to virtual runs has proved to be an invaluable lifeline when lockdown came into force. The members have continued to motivate, check in with others and care. Running may have brought the group together but beyond that it has created friendships and camaraderie, introducing people who maybe wouldn’t have met under other circumstances. There are a large number of regular members but also many people who simply come when they can because they know they will be greeted with a cheery smile rather than a ‘where have you been’ conversation.