Thomas Lewis- Run Wild Manchester

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On World Mental Health Day (10th October), we take a look at Run Wild Manchester - a student led running society at the University of Manchester that has embraced our #RunAndTalk campaign. Established in 2013, they host weekly runs on Tuesday evenings from the Students’ Union. It’s a group that is open to and welcoming of runners of all abilities, and have various paced groups, including a dedicated beginner’s group.
Thomas Lewis, one of Run Wild Manchester’s Run Leaders told us more about their group runs and the runs they hosted as part of our #RunAndTalk campaign, last year and this year. Read all about it below…

‘We support the #RunAndTalk campaign and hosted sessions last year and the week just gone, as we believe running can have a huge and positive impact on an individual’s mental health. Many of our members often say how important running has been to them during their time at University, offering them a break to clear their mind from the stress of deadlines and exams. University can also be a challenging time for students, for some who find it hard to fit in straight away and make new friends after leaving home for the first time. Members have been able to make friends and form new friendship circles through the club, meeting people they wouldn’t necessarily have met otherwise. Both undergraduates and postgraduates attend, from a vast array of different courses, making it a great and mixed group – running being a common ground and interest that brings us all together!

‘We hosted our #RunAndTalk run on 9 October last year and had 163 runners take part; a record attendance for the club! For the session we partnered with Open Mind Manchester, another society at the University of Manchester who raise awareness of mental health, who supported us on the night, talking and offering support to anyone before and after the run. With so many runners taking part on the night of our run we had 5 different pace groups: beginners, steady, medium, medium fast and fast, splitting off into subgroups, which is something we do on our regular runs to ensure that we can carry out sessions safely.

‘This year, we held our run on Tuesday 24 September - which was another great success!
‘Although a little less than last year, we had a whopping 138 runners turn up in wet conditions, which is probably our greatest achievement with the club to date. Our attendance usually halves if it rains before or during our sessions.

‘We partnered up with UoM Sport and the University of Manchester Students’ Union who helped promote our #RunAndTalk run and share the message on all of their social media channels. As well as having an article featured in the Mancunion. We also had material provided by the University of Manchester Counselling Service to hand out to anyone who asked.

‘The run was the first time we introduced a group called ‘continuous’, designed to bridge the gap between our beginners’ and steady group. This group completes 5K at a pace comfortable to everyone in the group, in the 30-35 minutes range. It proved to be a massive success, with the group having the highest attendance in comparison to others. Meaning we now have 6 different paced groups at our weekly runs.

‘The route for this year’s run saw all groups run to New Islington and along the canals, with medium fast / fast visiting the Etihad stadium. Once all groups returned from the run, we held a social in the Students’ Union bar, seeing over 40 members attend and make the most discounted food and drinks.

‘Many of those who attended this run for the first time returned for the next session the following week; 128 runners in total, showing how successful this campaign and movement is!’

Thomas is a passionate runner who got into running when he was 17, after watching and being inspired by a YouTuber, Casey Neistat, who had a number of videos on running and made it look really fun. He wanted a way to stay fit, but also a way to clear his mind and have a distraction from studying, and running was just the ticket. With marathon ambitions, Thomas’ standout running achievements so far have been running 1:30:33 in the Lake Maggiore Half Marathon in Italy in April of this year and the growth of Run Wild Manchester, and successes of their #RunAndTalk runs both years.

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