Sixty runners from one church in Bishopston have hit the roads in a bid to outrun one another. The women of Emmanuel Bishopston, an Anglican church in Bishopston, Bristol, challenged the men of the church to run further than them in the month of July.
When the competition ended on 31st July, 31 women ranging from 3-60 in age, had clocked up 2,000km beating the men by more than 350km! The two teams which included beginner runners and some more experienced runners, have smashed their initial target of running 1,227km to ‘virtually visit’ a student from their church who is studying abroad in Germany and in the end, managed to ‘reach’ missionary friends in Athens, 3,365km away.
Organisers, Rachel and Daniel Eatough, have only lived in Bristol for one year but leapt at the chance to get the competition going:
“After three months in lockdown, we felt our church family needed something to work towards together. It has really galvanised the church and the competitive spirit between the men and women has been remarkable! Quite a few of the women were part way through couch to 5k and this has been just the incentive they were looking for to keep going!”
Jim Walford, vicar of Emmanuel Bishopston and a keen runner, adds:
“We believe church isn’t just about going to a building for an hour on a Sunday. It is about being a family – a community of people, united by our faith in Jesus and our love for one another. For this reason, lockdown has been really hard. Our church services have moved online and there has been little opportunity to meet face to face. The running competition has made a big difference – some people have gone running in pairs, others have returned to running for the first time in years. A couple of teenagers have joined the teams and there have been lots of PBs and banter on the team whatsapp groups!
“It would be interesting if there was a way to measure the physical, mental and social benefits of 60 people in one church family going running regularly. We think we must be the fittest church in the South West of England!
“We are wondering how we can build on this success of the competition in future months – perhaps opening it to anyone who lives in BS7? In the absence of Park Runs, this sort of virtual running competition could be the way forward. If anyone wants to find out more, I’d love to hear from them.”
Sarah Bushell, mother of four, concludes:
“The running competition has been a huge blessing to our family in lockdown. Three of my children have gone running and even my husband has added a few kms to the tally. For my 14-year-old son, it has given him a reason to get out and do exercise and he has gone from running a few kilometres to regularly hitting 10km. This was just what we needed after three months of no school.”