A history of Sudbury Joggers

Here follows a brief and hazy account!

Sudbury Joggers is a running club that has grown from near disbandment in/around 2002 to a membership of approx 130 in 2017-18. At a meeting at the then Highbury Barn (now the Co-op in Canhams Rd), and where else other than a pub, the membership – then approximately 12 people discussed how the club should ‘grow’; it was decided that the club should be allowed to grow organically and that there would not be a specific ‘recruitment drive’, in order to continue to grow simply as a group of people with a mutual interest in running. Hence the club records and history have not always been kept with the greatest accuracy and memory fades!

Previously known as Stour Valley Joggers, the name was changed, in 2005, to the present Sudbury Joggers to create a more specific place identity. I am told that, as Stour Valley Joggers, the club would travel sometimes to the near continent e.g. Holland and then come back and enter another race in this country. For more details ask Lyndon Collier or Bob French, both of whom were Stour Valley Joggers at the time and are still Sudbury Joggers.

Unfortunately, in about 2002 at the AGM the club, Paul Felton (Club Secretary) put the idea of disbanding the club to the few members there. However, several people took on its running to see if it could survive. So, David Sandford succeeded Ron Bareham and became Chairman, Jonathan Price (Club Secretary), Jem Smith (Club Captain), whilst Bob French continued in the role of Club Treasurer. This was a job Bob had undertaken for a long time previously and continue to do until he decided to stand down in 2016. David Sandford handed over the Chairmanship to Jem Smith in about 2003, then Paddy Lavin, after being awarded the Chairman’s Award in 2007 & 2008, became Chairman himself. The Chairman’s Award Shield records that it has been awarded since 1994.

Mid-way through 2009 Paddy left the area for other work commitments and Jonathan Price took on the Chairman’s role until 2017’s AGM, when Jem took it on again! Sarah Pinnock had taken over the Club Secretary’s role in about 2013. She, Louise Glass (nee Hampshire) and Andy Buck have been the club captains throughout this period. Throughout this time also a great deal of thanks is owed to the help that Paul Preston gave in helping in setting up races. He also administered the monthly 5k timed handicap session we used to run from outside Sudbury Upper School (as it was then) round to Abbey Rd and along Melford Rd and back up the hill – twice. This proved popular with the membership and turnouts were high – may be something for revival!

Soon after this the club saw a Wednesday evening when only 2 people went for a run – on more than one occasion. The worst was feared for the club, but gradually the numbers grew, and we thought that evenings when there were 10, then 15, then 20, then 30 were really good turnouts. Now we seem regularly to have 40-50 people and often more. This is a high percentage of the membership – which is great.




The club has been based variously at Cornard Sports Centre, Sudbury Sports Centre and at present is based at the Kingfisher. At intervals, the idea of a ‘clubhouse’ has been discussed.

The Chairman’s Award, mentioned above, and all the other annual wards to members have been and still are awarded at the Club’s Christmas ‘do’, which seems to have become based at the Bay Horse – so maybe there’s a clubhouse!

As Stour Valley Joggers, or as Sudbury Joggers, the club has always been affiliated to England Athletics and the Suffolk County Athletics Association (for several years the club with the smallest membership in Suffolk). As such we have gradually accumulated the knowledge and experience to put on races of our own. The Stour Valley Joggers generation of runners had put on the Border Run – a 15 miler that headed off from Brundon in the direction of Long Melford and its environs.

The next generation of runners started by putting on a 5 miler, as an evening race (not a Friday 5), starting from the AFC Sudbury area in Brundon Lane and heading towards Rodbridge and back via the ‘concrete grain silo’. This survived a couple of years and then the Sudbury Fun Run landed with the club and took over as the ‘club’s race’. One race a year was, at the time, as much as the small membership felt able to organise – valuable experience. We have, in the past, had support from outside the club in the form of Coaching from Richard Fellingham (Stowmarket Striders) and a talk with questions from Chicago Marathon winner (1996) from Lowestoft, Paul Evans (City of Norwich AC). These whilst we were based at the Upper School.

Now we are putting on our first Friday 5 this year and are organising our 10th Sudbury Fun Run – the 37th running of the event. The Suffolk Grand Prix has featured the Sudbury Fun Run twice and, this year, features the Friday 5 as an event – so Sudbury as a running club is on the map – though it has been there in the past too – the County Cross Country Championships were held here in Sudbury in 1930 and at Lavenham in 1934 (Suffolk County Athletics Association website). Perhaps that’s for the near future.

It seems that we are running further and further with every passing year as more people do the various marathon challenges around the country and globally – Barrow, the SVP, Peddars Way, the North & South Downs Ways, the Marathon des Sables and many others to mention only a few of the more local ones. We are now well represented across the whole of the results lists of most races, which is really good! The fact that we now are contemplating having a second coach to take runners and their supporters to this year’s London Marathon is testament to the club’s growth and success.

Another aspect of this is the introduction of parkrun and junior parkrun has seen the numbers of runners in the Sudbury area grow as well as the consequent number of runners joining the club – many thanks to Lisa Dalton for initiating it in Cornard.

The Club’s September Sunday event has now been going for three years and has variously been a half marathon, 6 miles and a social all of which allows us to contribute to a chosen charity. Again, this is a great development.

Couldn’t be more welcoming, friendly and encouraging. Have only been a member for 4 months but already have made loads of progress and gained lots of new friends. To sum it up in a word “inclusive”.

Nicky Cant

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