The Dulwich Runners was founded in 1980 when six friends met in ‘The Clockhouse PH’ at the bottom of Barry Road and decided to run the first London Marathon. Since then the club has gone from strength to strength and now has nearly 300 members who will shortly be celebrating their 1400th Wednesday night run.

The club was one of many new breed clubs which were born in the days of the 80’s running boom. These clubs were road running clubs and welcomed all-comers, unlike many of the traditional clubs who mainly looked for experienced runners and track athletes.

In the early days a handful of people met outside the College Road gates of Dulwich Park and it was not until it moved to the Griffin Club (in Dulwich Village), which could offer changing facilities and the chance of pint afterwards, that the club began to flourish. The older clubs ceased to refer to the Dulwich Runners disparagingly as Dulwich joggers, as members began to feature in the results of well established races and the club started to move up the divisions in the Surrey Cross Country League. The London Marathon has always been a highlight of the Dulwich year with in excess of 30 runners taking part every year.

In 1986 the club held its first Dulwich Charity 10k run in Dulwich Park. This is the Club’s way of putting something back into the community. Over the years many local charities have benefited, both large and small. Last year L’Arche Lambeth benefited to the tune of £4000. The event, which attracts 500 runners, takes place in the first weekend in October and is always supported by the Mayor. Thanks to the great generosity of local traders, the club is able to offer an extensive prize list which helps to attract a large field from top class athletes to people running their first race, to either get fit or to raise money for charity. The race is accompanied by a family fun-run (one lap of the Park) and a two mile race for young athletes, which always produces some wonderful performances.

These days the club meets, still on Wednesdays at 7pm for 7.15pm at the Edward Alleyn Club in Burbage Road. It offers a number of runs of different lengths and marked maps are provided for those unsure of the route. There is a new runners’ rota of club members prepared to assist newcomers and accompany them on their first few runs. A power walking section has been formed as it was found that there was need for people who just wanted to walk, maybe runners who are injured or partners of runners who may not want to run but want to take some exercise and be part of the club.

Following the run/walk, there are changing facilities, the chance to have some food, a drink at the bar and to plan future events. Unusually for a running club, there is a large female membership which comprises a third of the membership and which makes the social side more fun. There are regular parties, weekends away to running events, theatre outings etc.

Over the years, groups of Dulwich Runners have travelled all over the world to take part in marathons and other races and now many people make up the worldwide Dulwich Runners fellowship. News and events are recorded in a weekly newsletter called “Shorts” and examples can be seen, together with lots of photographs on the Dulwich Runners website – www.dulwichrunners.org.uk

Chris Vernon

Go to top