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Golden Games

Tampon Tax Community Grant 

 Couch to 5K

Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation set up our Couch to 5K programme as part of our commitment to help improve the mental well-being of women in Hartlepool. 

Group Leader Dean Cartwright explained, “it seemed like we were constantly starting again from scratch after every change in the restrictions but, after emerging from the latest lockdown, we set a target for completion by the end of July and the whole group worked tirelessly to get there.”

Wendy, one of the group’s stalwarts and head of photography, summed up the early apprehension that each individual seemed to be feeling when setting out on this journey.

“There were so many things I was worried about from being seen running outdoors to worrying if my body was actually up to it” she says.  “It turned out that we were all feeling the same, which was reassuring, and have been supportive of each other from day one.”

Indeed, the camaraderie and the friendships formed have been a massive reason for the success of the group.  As Julie highlights, “we all enjoy the social side of getting together and exercising although we didn’t have much chance to chat when we first met up as none of us could talk and run at the same time!”

Dean from the Community Sports Foundation with the Couch to 5k Fab Four.

Meeting up twice a week, the group gradually went from short runs with longer walks to longer runs with shorter walks and as their legs and lungs got used to the increasing demands, the distances got further and further.

Things progressed from hitting their first target of being able to run a mile non-stop to quickly doubling that total before facing their Everest:  The full 5k!

And on a wet and windy day in early July, they hit that peak.

“It was such a good feeling the first time we did the whole 5k” says Susan.  “It was raining and windy but our mindset was that this was going to be the day and, by encouraging one another from start to finish, we did it!”

“The first time we met up, we couldn’t run more than a minute without stopping but now, we’re running for 40 minutes and each of us feels great about what we’ve achieved!”

As with all challenges, the road hasn’t always been a smooth one.  As Janet testifies, “I thought about giving up a couple of times as I was convinced that I would never run 5k and had been struggling to keep going.”

When Janet told the others about this however, they were incredibly supportive and Dean offered her the simple tip of slowing down her pace at the start of her run.  With all of these comments in mind, she completed the distance and has gone on to repeat that achievement on numerous occasions since.



Susan and Wendy celebrate after completing their first ever 5k run.

“That feeling on crossing the finish line for the first time was unbelievable” she says.  “I felt so proud of myself and the sense of this being a group achievement made it even sweeter.”

If anyone is interested in joining the group Tuesday 10-11am and Friday 1-2pm or starting a new group from scratch, they can contact Dean at for further details.