Natalie Dellar, from Penn, has lost five stones.
was a time when Natalie Dellar struggled to get upstairs as her
weight rocketed to 18 stones. Now the IT consultant is running
ultra-marathons of up to 40 miles and has shed five stones.
Natalie, from Penn, started running six years ago when she
decided she needed to lose weight and get fit. "When you start
running you think there is no way you will be able to do three
miles," says Natalie. "Then you think you will never run 10
miles, then a half-marathon and then a full marathon.
"But, each time you rise to the challenge and I'm now doing
triathlons and ultra-marathons."
Natalie is one of the 450 women who have signed up with Dudley
Ladies Running Club in Wombourne, and made the group the largest
women-only road running club in the Midlands.
The club meets three times a week at Wombourne Leisure Centre
and members go out as a group, running around the local area
such as along the popular Railway Walk and near the Bratch
The group was started by Rita Vanes, 63, who began running in
her mid-thirties as a way of losing weight and meeting new
people without spending too much money.
"I started off walking and jogging, and eventually 1 was fit
enough to enter a local fun run, which to my surprise I
thoroughly enjoyed and didn't come last," says Rita. "My life
was changed forever, my bottom and thighs were firmer, and 1 was
slimmer and looked and felt better. I was also more confident
and was able to relax more, I even slept better and made loads
of friends as well."
The special needs teacher from Wordsley, became one of the best
female road runners for her age group in the Midlands, regularly
winning races and prizes.
After several years of running as the only female with her
husband Phil and the men of Dudley Kingswinford Running Club,
Rita decided that she wanted to do something to encourage other
women into the sport.
"I devised a 10 week beginners running course, based upon my own
experiences and designed it to take women who were absolute
beginners up to running three miles,” she says.
Some members did a Calendar
Girls style photo shoot.
Dudley Ladies Running Club Organiser Rita Vanes
(Front) with fellow members left to right:
Janet Davies, Natalie Dellar, Pam Sehemby and
"Around 15 people turned up on
the first night, but news
spread and six years later I was getting over 300 people turn up
for my courses.
"Until you are fit it's hard
work - there's a lot of sweating, swearing and gritting of
teeth but, because Dudley Ladies is an all-women's group, when
you're in the pack there's also a lot of laughing, joking,
support and a real sense of achievement. It has changed a lot of
women's lives forever."
The group regularly go out for
social events and meals together and did a Calendar Girls style
photo shoot, which Rita says brought the club members even
"Running isn't like aerobics or
gym work because it allows you to spend time outdoors in the
fresh air and makes you socialise as well," says Rita. "You are
mixing and talking to people all the time, either to the person
you're running with, the person you've just run past or the
person running past you, and when people start seeing
improvement then that spurs them on even further. In fact many
of my beginners have gone on to do the London Marathon."
The club, which is affiliated to
the Association of Running Clubs, has members aged from 13 years
old up to over 65 with the weight range going from eight to 18
Helen Nuttall from Woodthorne
Road in Tettenhall says there isn't any pressure put on members
of the group, and also no men to make you run faster than you
want to."I joined the club as a beginner in 2010 as I always
fancied having a go at running but didn't think I was any good
at it," says Helen, who works in Wolverhampton as a HR manager
and has three children.
"I only intended to do the 10
week course but you make friends and discover that you have more
stamina and aren't as tired as you used to be. "Nearly every
week we have new members come along and hardly anyone leaves the
club once they have joined."
Nina White from Uplands Avenue
in Finchfield joined the group in 2009 as a way of getting rid
of some baby fat after having her daughter Megan now aged four.
"1 feel really motivated when
I'm with the club and I come for the fitness, and a chance to
have a bit of a gossip as well," says Nina, 31.
"Once I had done the beginners
course and ran three miles I entered a 10k race and then a group
of us did a half marathon and now some of us are getting ready
for the next London Marathon.
"I never joined to become a
marathon runner but it really is an addictive sport and I've
lost three-and-a-half stone."
Fees for the group run from
September to September and cost £40 for the year if you are over
16, £15 for the year if you are under 16 and £55 for a joint
mother and daughter membership.
It is a non-profit making scheme
and the fees cover the costs, including room hire at the
Ounsdale Road leisure centre.
Another member is Janet Davies
from Millersvale in Wombourne, whose husband John is a runner.
"John is quite competitive and I
wanted to run with other women so two years ago I decided to
join the club.”
says. "I go running twice a week with the group and it gets you
fit, makes you get out of the house and you also meet some great
"I started off aiming to run
three miles and now I can do six and I feel like I've got so
much more energy."
Also in the club is Pam
Sehamby, 46, who works in Lloyds Pharmacy in Penn
Road and she says she was encouraged to join the group by
her friend Val.
"I wanted to know how to jog
and Val kept telling me about this group so I gave Rita a call
and in early 2011
I joined the 10 week course,"
says Pam who lives in Warstones Road, Penn with her husband Kam
and three children. Now I love it and on Tuesday and Thursday
evenings as well as Sunday mornings my family know that I'm
They have got used to it now
and know not to set anything up for those times."
Natalie Dellar used to be a
student at Oxford University where
she did rowing and she says the running has become a good
replacement for the sport.
"Being an IT consultant means
I have quite a sedentary lifestyle and so it was easy to
put on the weight after I left university," she says.
"Running has led me into
doing triathlons and races such as the Connemara Ultra Marathon
in Ireland which is 40 miles. I never dreamed I would be doing
all this, but I would say to anyone thinking of getting into
running to just go for it - you won't lose anything, except
maybe a bit of weight."
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