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Wolverhampton Magazine Article

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Natalie Dellar, from Penn, has lost five stones.


 There 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 Locks.



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 Helen Nuttall





"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 closer together.


"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 stones. 


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.”


Janet 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 people.


  "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 going running.


  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."

For more information email rita@dudleyladies.co.uk or ring 01902 898202.


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For More Information Contact:

Dudley Ladies Running Club
c/o Wombourne Leisure Centre
Tel 01902 898202 or
Email: rita@dudleyladies.co.uk

Site Last modified: January 29, 2016