The first London Marathon took place in 1981, kick starting the first running boom and within a few years every town and village had its own running event. The club was formed in 1985 by a group of running enthusiasts based mainly in the Allestree area (in time honoured tradition the idea was conceived over a pint in one of the local hostelries) and from the outset there was no shortage of competitive events. Derby had its own marathon (Ramathon) and even suburbs such as Allestree, Mickleover and Chellaston had their own half marathon events.
The original meeting point was Markeaton Park but within a short period of time the West End Community Centre was established as the club’s base. In those days runners paid 50p each week to cover the cost of renting the centre. Original club vests were green with a broad white centre band (including ventilation holes – cutting edge technology!). Shorts were black but tended towards the “snug” variety rather than the looser style more commonplace nowadays (in the early days female runners were something of a rarity).
After several years the club was advised that West End Community Centre was to be demolished to make way for a new University of Derby site and a new venue needed to be found (in fact the university found alternative premises and the Community Centre still exists). The club’s meeting venue became Derby Rowing Club but this coincided with a significant decline in club membership. Many of the original members had left the club due to work and family commitments or, more sadly, illness and injury. The 80s running boom faded as the dubious attractions of computer games and satellite television enticed a generation away from exercise. Events began to disappear from the calendar and those wishing to participate in competition found they had to travel greater distances.
Many local running clubs either merged or folded but Derwent Runners soldiered on with a hard core of active members and after a period at Chester Green, moved to its current location at Derby Rugby Club. Numbers gradually picked up once more thanks to increasing awareness of the benefits of regular exercise and the introduction of more social events (summer pub runs proving especially popular). In recent years, the advent of the internet has had a dramatic impact on the club’s membership which currently stands at just short of 200 members (and growing!).
Mark Gray – member since 1985.
Back in 2009, we were using the local free press to appeal for new members…
Simon Field – member since 2008