So, I thought I'd better post to give you my views on the recent RunHarrogate furore that's sent Twitter into a bit of a frenzy.
As a bit of background (and those of you who know all this, I'm sorry - I'll keep it brief), I started RunHarrogate back in May because, quite frankly, I was petrified. The thought of running by myself was daunting to sway the least - I'd just had a baby, I knew nothing about running and I ran under the cover of darkness.
I figured other people must feel the same, so I sent out a Tweet - would anyone like to come and run with me? We could support each other - safety in number and all that. RunHarrogate was born.
Fast forward a few months and we now have a core group of 15-20 runners, with more dipping in and out as commitments allow. I love this group - they make me smile (and, admittedly, beam with complete pride) every week; I've seen people (myself included) go from walking around the course to running, full pelt, head held high. Their fitness levels have improved beyond belief and they now take part in the weekly 5km Park Run as well.
Anyway, without getting too teary-eyed about it, Harrogate Council got in touch to say that unless I had a running qualification and £5million public liability insurance then I was to stop the group.
I was taken aback, to say the least. Bearing in mind I don't teach anyone - I've always been very honest about not knowing the first thing about running - and it's a free group that is literally there just so that people have the motivation to get healthy. I also send out a fortnightly newsletter to everyone with a disclaimer to say that they run entirely at their own risk.
I don't want to ride on the back of the Olympic coat tails but, really? We've just seen the biggest sporting event in the UK, well...Ever. Everyone's excited and energised to get involved in sport. Just let us run.
I don't want to fall out with anyone and totally understand sanctions are put in place for a reason but where does it end? The Stray is a public place - what if a group of mates wanted to get together once a week for a game of football or picnic? Is this an 'event'?
It remains to be seen. The local media has been amazing - I've done interviews with the Yorkshire Post and BBC Radio York, with another on StrayFM on Monday. People feel so strongly about this and the support has been amazing. Hopefully we can work with Harrogate Borough Council and reach a solution - it would be such a shame if we had to lose the group.
In the meantime, I'm off running on Thursday next week, around 6:30pm. Might see you there (coincidentally, of course).
Finally, I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone on Twitter who has sent a supportive message or retweeted our concerns - every single one has been absolutely AWESOME.