George Harden

I joined the original Washington Athletics Club, in September 1986.

I did my first coaching course a few years later.  This would have been a Level 1 course where you were shown the basics of different events.   At Washington I helped out when short of coaches, but did not have my own group.

The original club folded in 1996.  At the time I was on the Committee, but moved to Coxhoe following birth of my twin daughters.

I joined Sunderland Harriers in 1997.  In 2002 I was asked if I could help out with the Senior Women.  I think my role was as chaperone and protection from dogs.  I did the Level 1 course again and started training with the Women One night a week.  The sessions were mainly speed based and were agreed in advance with one of the Senior coaches.   For several years I was the Team Manager.  The team was quite successful as we had several women capable of sub 40 minutes for 10k.  The biggest disappointment was when we lost out on winning the Harrier League title at the last race in Prudhoe.

In about 2008, I was asked if I could assist with the youngest group as the numbers were getting quite large.  I volunteered to help out on a Thursday night.  After a year I was asked if I could assist on both Tuesday and Thursday nights, as one of the coaches had resigned and another coach was planning to retire.  I did the Assistant Coaching course, and then started planning some of the sessions under supervision.  The following year, England Athletics introduced a new course, Children’s Coach.  My course in Gateshead was the second one to start but the first group to do the Assessments, so I became one of the first to qualify as a Children’s Coach.  At Sunderland I was put in charge of the FUNdamentals group.  This was for children, aged 9 – 12, where they learned the basics of running, jumping and throwing in hopefully a fun based environment.  From this group, children would hopefully progress to either a middle distance or sprints group with another coach.  As the group got larger we ended up with a waiting list.  Thankfully another coach joined, and we divided the group up.  I still ended up with the larger group as the children thought my group was more fun or less hard!

After Washington Running Club was reformed by Tim Bateson in 2014, I asked Tim if he would be interested in starting a junior section.  The Juniors held their first session on 18th November 2015, in the Sports Hall of Biddick Academy, with 10 children present.  One of those present that night still attends on a regular basis and her dad has since done the Coach 2 5k training and organises a Monday and Tuesday night social run.  After a year of coaching children 3 nights a week, I gave up the role at Sunderland Harriers.  The Washington group is for children over the age of 8, which is the minimum age I am qualified to coach.  The numbers at Washington have grown considerably to a point where a waiting list might need to be introduced, or the sessions made harder and less fun!

I have assisted Active Sunderland in organising sports taster days for children and also assisted at the Sportshall Athletics events, usually being put in charge of Shot Putt or Triple Jump.  From the school competitions, teams are formed to represent Sunderland against other local authorities.  I have been Team Manager several times.  I am sure the main job is to make sure all of the t-shirts get returned at the end of the competition.  I have also helped at St Josephs for the last 3 years at a mile fun run event they hold, taking along some of the equipment my junior groups train with.

As a runner my main claim to fame is being the first to finish at the inaugural Sunderland parkrun, in October 2009.  Since parkruns are not “races”, but 5k time trials, I also had the fastest time at my first parkrun in Middlesbrough in August 2008 and Liverpool in May 2011.  My parkrun pb is 16’59 at Albert Park, Middlesbrough.

I have competed at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Riccione 2007 (Outdoors) and in Linz 2006 and Clermont-Ferrand  2008 (Indoors) over 800m, 1500m and Cross-Country.

I won silver medals in 2007 over 800m indoors and 1500m outdoors in the British Masters Championships V45 age category.

Unlike the majority of members of Washington Running Club, my best days are behind me.  Yours are still to come!