Session leaders & coaches

Michael Bishop (Head Coach | UKA - Coaches in Running Fitness)

"My fitness journey began when I was taking my GCSE's. I remember studying over summer and snacking a lot. Inevitably the pounds piled on so I started some cycling out to Croughton and back. The first run I did was a 10k for the Joshua Foundation charity in 2006 where I supported a couple of friends. We did a lot of walking and a little bit of running.

I didn't go back to running until many years later when I was geared up for a cycle ride and only got half way up my road before I was reminded that my bike was not roadworthy from the year before due to a mangled cassette and lots of wear and tear. I needed to burn off some energy that day so I went for a run instead. As I was a bit strapped for cash at the time running became my ‘go-to’ exercise. Always one to take an all-or-nothing approach and not knowing about building up the distance I often came home with a limp. However, I quickly got into it and signed up to do the Blenheim 10k in 2012. I achieved a time of 52:06 at the event and it took me about 3 years to beat the time.

I joined the running club in 2014 after bumping into BDRC at the lake whilst I was jogging with one of our dogs. Since joining the club I've made many new friends and lost 2 stone. 2016 was a fantastic year for me churning out a total of 48 personal bests and I completed my first marathon in 04:35. A self confessed lover of running I also get great pleasure out of seeing others achieving their goals and seeing how much it means to them."
AKA: BBB, Bish

Claire Frogley (UKA - Coaches in Running Fitness)

"As a teenager I was a swimmer with flippers instead of feet and permanent goggle imprints hiding behind my glasses. I avoided running at all costs – especially the dreaded school cross country. Skip forward 20 years and after the birth of my twins in 2010 I was desperate to get a bit of fitness back and a little ‘me time’ too, so in a moment of madness I went for a jog around the block. A few weeks later I realised my legs were still attached and I hadn’t collapsed yet so maybe running wasn't so bad after all! Later that year I signed up for a Race for Life 5km in Milton Keynes and I survived! I carried on running for a year or so and completed a couple for 10km races and eventually a half marathon fundraising for the British Heart Foundation. For various reasons; life, work and a lack of motivation got in the way and I stopping running.

In November 2015 the club started a Gentle Pace Group and with a nudge in the right direction from my family I decided to give it a go and have another bash at this running malarkey. This time the bug has well and truly bitten and I am hooked! I have now run approaching 10 half marathons, countless 10km and 5km races and thanks to the encouragement and support of the club my times have come down dramatically. In addition I was totally overwhelmed to have been awarded ‘Club Achiever’ of the year in 2016.

I have benefitted hugely from running and the support of the club so when the opportunity to take the Leadership in Running Fitness course came up I jumped at the chance. I really look forward to supporting others and seeing them benefit from their own achievements in running as I have.

P.S. I’m the one they call ‘Froggles’!"

Ian Mariott (UKA - Coaches in Running Fitness)

"Hi my name is Ian (Mazzo) Marriott, I live in Brackley with my wife Laura and our 3 girls. I began running in 2013 to help me lose weight and become fitter as I had just turned 50. A few months later in June 2013 a friend persuaded me to enter a local 10k race which I completed albeit I had to walk some of it. I was hooked and I set myself the challenge of completing a marathon which I did in Manchester April 2014. Shortly after that I joined BDRC and haven’t looked back since, I have completed several more marathons, two ultras (so far) and numerous other race distances.

The Club asked if I would like to complete the Leadership in Running Fitness course in 2016 which I was happy to do and now lead some of our Tuesday and Thursday training sessions. "
AKA: Mazzo

Richard McMahon (UKA - Leadership in Running Fitness)

"As a teenager I used to represent my school in the 440 yards and other sprints, and joined the cross-country team when I was in the sixth form (although in hindsight I was pretty awful at the longer distance!). I did not run regularly again until I was in my mid-fifties when I was overweight and particularly unfit. My wife suggested the Couch to 5K (C25K) programme and I set myself the target to run parkrun without stopping. After regularly running at parkrun I started to increase my distance and entered a few races. I considered joining a running club and having seen how friendly and devoted to completing the race the BDRC members were at the Helmdon Hurler, I decided BDRC was the club for me!

I love the positivity and inclusivity of the running community and particularly enjoy supporting and encouraging new runners. "
AKA: Macca

Gareth Meade (UKA - Leadership in Running Fitness)

"Hi I am the one they call Meadster. I didn't do much running in younger years, just swam competitively for Northampton and Northants. After I left school I didn't do any exercise until I took up Scuba Diving in 1987. Within 4 years I became an Instructor. Whilst diving I didn't do much exercise other than lifting a small weight in my right hand (Beer). I started to find I was struggling with my breathing underwater as I was so unhealthy. In 2004 I realised I needed to do something, so with some encouragement from friends (that already ran) and work colleagues that ran, I tried my first Blisworth Friday 5. Moving on 3 years I did my First London Marathon.

I have now run most distances between 5k and 100k. Over the years I looked at joining clubs but didn't fancy any. In 2016 I contacted BDRC and was immediately encouraged to come down and meet the club by Gareth and Dawn. The members were so friendly and reassuring that I thought this was the club for me.

Two years later my running has become stronger and so much more enjoyable. Thanks to the help and encouragement from the club, I have just completed my first three Ultras. Now I feel its time to give a bit back and to try and help encourage other club members to meet their goals. Its great seeing others achieving and watching them grow as runners"
AKA: Meadster

Nicola Crookes (UKA - Leader in Running Fitness)

"At school I was always last in anything that involved running, in fact, I didn’t really do any sport other than swimming, as I was told I was far too un-coordinated! My Uni & early workdays involved no sport at all, apart from dancing, then along came the kiddies and even the dancing stopped. Roll on a few years and the sudden realisation that I was turning 40, was very unfit and not losing the ‘baby’ weight, I decided to enter the Great North Run for The Alzheimer’s Society. I started running………very slowly. At first, I struggled to run 500m, but gradually built up the miles. I managed the race in just over 2 hours…..and I enjoyed it. So much so, that I applied again the following year (2012) with my husband YT.

At the beginning of 2013 I finally plucked up courage to join BDRC and haven’t looked back. I have made new friends, completed 4 marathons and numerous other races.

I love the club, the enthusiasm of all the members and the fantastic team events & weekends away such as The Hilly 100 and the road trips 'Up North' for the Ladybower 20. I enjoy leading sessions……however, please bear with me, as I am still as un-coordinated, in-flexible & un-bendy as I was back in my school days! " "
AKA: Choochi 'cos apparently I run like a train!

Rachel Prior (UKA - Leader in Running Fitness)

"I avoided any kind of sport at school and then in my early twenties I started to enjoy swimming and aerobics classes. When our daughter Jess, was about 6 months old my lovely husband bought me a running machine that I didn’t know I wanted! However it fitted in perfectly with my lifestyle at the time, I then ventured out on the roads and entered a few ‘race for life’ events. I decided to join a running club and although it took me a few weeks to summon up the courage, I attended a session at Brackley. Ten years on I’m still enjoying my weekly jaunts out with this fantastic group of enthusiasts. I have even persuaded husband Michael to join too, it only took 9 years of nagging!

As a result of a contact through the club, I now volunteer for a charity called ‘Side by Side’ and go out for a weekly run with a gentleman who has early onset Alzheimer’s. We have lots of fun, and I find it very rewarding to help someone through something that I particularly enjoy.

I also enjoy welcoming the club to our Summer runs around the Tusmore estate near where I live and the ice lollies that we consume afterwards, hence my nick name.

I now also regularly swim cycle and participate in classes. I am not particularly fast and don’t expect PB’s anymore, but love the new challenges of club events like the X Country and the fabulous Hilly 100.

It doesn’t matter if you have only just started running or you are already an accomplished competitor, there is a place for everyone in this active and friendly club."
AKA: Lolly

Suzanne Peel-Yates Bass-Twitchell (UKA - Leader in Running Fitness)

"At school I enjoyed gymnastics and running particularly the 1500m and cross country, I was never a sprinter, just plodded away and never gave up. Outside of school I was lucky enough to have my own pony and later horses. The gymnastics and running came in very handy with the horse riding as they were inclined to help me find new and elaborate ways of dismounting, normally at speed. Being flexible from the gymnastics allowed me to hit the floor / fence post / tree what ever was in my path in a safe manner saving me from injury, I would ping back to my feet and then run after the pony /horse.

I continued horse riding into my early 30’s when I had to retire my horse due to navicular. Having 4 boys to keep alive and running a business from home meant I no longer had time for a horse. Adding to the fact that hitting the floor from novel dismounts was hurting, I no longer bounced back like I use to, I would hit the floor and stay there. I decided to keep the running bit and started running with my dogs.

In my late 30’s a 6-month illness saw the running go pear shape along with my body and any fitness I has disappeared into oblivion. A couple of months after I turned 40, I saw an advert for a local beginners running group and joined. This was just the start. In January 2015 I did my 1st 5k dirt race, followed in June with the 10k Chicken Run. In November 2015 a friend told me about the running club’s Gentle Pace Group. I nervously went along and have never looked back. In 2017 I completed the Edinburgh Marathon.

I will never be the fastest but love new challenges and the support you get from the club in completing them. I’m a big fan of the team event which are great socials, the Hilly 100, Colworth Marathon Challenge, cross country races and any 24 hour relay races I’ve taken part in.

I love being part of such a friendly and enthusiastic club. I look forward to supporting others in achieving their running goals and enjoying their running. "

Heidi Carruthers (UKA - Leader in Running Fitness)

"After taking a year out of ‘real life’ in 2002 and going travelling I returned home and realised I needed to lose a bit of weight and get fit. I changed my diet and started running in the summer of 2003 and I’ve never stopped!

Back then I didn’t know anyone else that ran, had no idea about how to train or that training programs even existed. I made it all up as I went along. Without the invention of a gps watch I used to drive my routes afterwards to see how far I’d run. Seems crazy now! Eventually I started running with a friend (Karen Heslop) and we became hooked.

I’d always wanted to run the London marathon and I got my first ballot place for the 2008 one but had to defer it till 2009 as I’d just found out I was pregnant with my second daughter.

This was the point I decided to join the running club and it helped me gain so much confidence and helped my training. It was also such a revelation to find all these like minded people that wanted to talk about running and not get bored!

I completed the 2009 London marathon in 3.56 and absolutely loved it. I’ve gone on to take part in numerous races with the club. I decided it was time to give something back to the club now my daughters are older and I have more time so I volunteered to do the LiRF course to be able to lead club sessions and more recently I have volunteered to help lead our couch to 5km progress which I’m really looking forward to."

Max Follner (UKA - Leader in Running Fitness)

"I started getting into exercise in 2015 when I tried to loose some weight for my wedding. I started out cycling but as a fair weather cyclist, I had to find something that I could do in the run up to our January wedding and as Louise already went for the odd run, I thought I give it a go.

After the wedding I let myself go again until our son, Henry, was born and I started to suffer from back issues. At one point I was unable to lift him out of his cot which rang all the alarm bells in my head and I decided I need to do something. I spent a few years just running by myself but got introduced to the running club in 2018 when my wife joined and I finally joined the club in 2020 just before the lockdown.

The club has provided incredible support, encouragement and motivation during the lockdown months and I would have not maintained my level of fitness without the club. I was meant to run the Berlin Marathon in 2020 but due to the pandemic, it was cancelled and I decided to not let my fitness to go to waste and ran the Brackley mile loop marathon (26 enjoyable laps). I think this, together with the fact that I often run at 5am gave me my nickname of 'Mad Max'.

Running has totally grabbed our family and between my wife and I, we have already completely battered one running buggy and are now on the second one, with a double buggy also added to the family due to the birth of our daughter, Ellie. Most Sundays are now also spent at junior parkrun after the running bug seems to have grabbed Henry too.

Running isn't the only thing that keeps me occupied as I also enjoy swimming and biking. I just thought why be mediocre at one sport if you can be mediocre at three of them!

When the chance came up to become a session leader in 2022 I jumped at it as I wanted to be able to give something back to the club."