Leader’s Blog Jun ’24 – Steve Prust

Each month, we’ll be sharing the stories and insights of our group leaders. If you are interested in giving leading a go, talk to your group leader at club, or email hello@hydeparkharriers.co.uk we have tonnes of resources to help you, a route library, training sessions and support.  

This month, we’re chatting to Steve Prust who often leads group 2 on a Tuesday evening. 

How did you get in to leading? 

I first started leading because I was finding it difficult to find a pace group that fitted me. So, whilst Jane was running with a Tuesday night group, I would do a run on my own. Eventually I thought that it might be useful to see if anyone else wanted to run at the pace I was aiming at and, after some discussion with the committee, group 1.5 happened (which since the re-organisation of Tuesday run sessions earlier this year is now the ‘new’ group 2). 

What do you love about leading? 

Many aspects of leading are fun; I actively enjoy route planning and exploring Leeds – especially its history! It’s also a great feeling that leading runs is useful to others. 

Do you have any interesting or creative ways of leading? 

I’m always looking for routes that have the fewest hindrances (avoiding busy crossings and so on) so that the group can run more or less at a continuous pace. Sometimes it is fun to have a few games, though I haven’t done this for a while … must do it again soon!  One such example is red light, green light (not the Squid Games version) where we have a line of runners with the leader holding a green light and the tail holding a red light.  The leader goes off, we all follow, then after a bit of running (say 100 paces or whatever) the leader gives the green light to the runner directly behind them and runs to the back, takes the red light and so becomes the new tail runner.  This process continues with the next runner and so on.  This obviously fills everyone’s mind about the process, so they forget about how tiring the run is 🤣. Plus if someone is tailing off at the back then the group is automatically kept together – good for a long uphill section for example.  If there are a lot of people in the group, then it can be done as pairs instead of individuals.  

What would your advice be to anyone thinking about starting to lead? 

1. Know your route well – it makes things much easier.  

2. Benefit from the knowledge and helpfulness of others. My briefings often end with a question like “what have I forgot to say?” and asking if people would like to lead stretches at the end is helpful and both are good ways to get others participating.  

3. If you are only comfortable leading a smaller group, then ask to start off this way – the Spond admin can change group numbers to whatever you want to lead. For example, when I started leading, I had a group limited to 10.   

Do you have any specific stories about leading you’d like to share?  

I was once leading when a dramatic scream came from the back of the group. “What’s happened? is it something dreadful???”, I thought as I went back to investigate. Now, typically I will recce a route that I haven’t done before, and some potential routes have been rejected after experiencing some of the edgier street activities available. Also, some bits of Leeds can change character quite a lot between Sunday afternoon and a Tuesday evening. We’ve experienced discarded underwear, urinating drunks, over-friendly people and so on, but typically I play it safe. However, you can’t plan for urban wildlife – many of which are quite unafraid of us! It was a rat crossing the path led to the dramatic scream. There was nobody and no animal injured (except maybe the rat’s feelings?) and we were all OK… Phew! 

Steve’s final thoughts on leading are that “we can always develop as a club and leading can be a way of breaking down barriers and developing new activities. If, like me, you find that the current runs are not aligned with your needs then leading a new session could be a good way of finding a set of people with common aims / needs.” 

Massive thanks Steve for your thoughts on leading and for regularly volunteering to lead group sessions! As Steve has said, he felt like his needs weren’t quite met by our old group structure and approached the committee to work together to form a solution – if you experience a similar situation, please do get in touch with us at hello@hydeparkharriers.co.uk