The running club at Westpark school have remained active throughout the lockdown – despite suffering some disappointments along the way.
Ambitious plans for a running track to be built in the school grounds this summer have been put on hold and it’s uncertain as to when the project will now be completed.
But that hasn’t dulled the enthusiasm of the youngsters who have been given virtual challenges by teacher Nigel O’Neill, who set up the school running club three years ago.
He said: “We raised close to £25,000 for the track. Plans had been drawn up and we had put it out to tender just before lockdown. Obviously it hasn’t been able to progress at all.
“It’s going to be 300m in length and about 2m wide, and will be suitable for cycling as well as running. It’s not a conventional running track, but it will be ideal.
“It’s a real shame as some of the children whose families put a lot of effort into fundraising will have moved on to secondary school before it’s finished.
“But the track will still be in the community for anyone to use.”
Nigel set up a strava group for running club members to keep in touch during lockdown.
He said: “There are roughly 40 in the group and parents are involved as well as the children. I give them some of the training sessions we would normally do at the school.
“But I also set a challenge every week. I asked them to run either 1, 2, 5 or 10k in one week – and some of the kids did them all. Usually, the whole group clocks up around 450 to 500k in a week.
“Some families would have been active regardless of whether the group had been set up, but I suppose having it keeps the club going and adds a bit of community spirit to it.
“There’s no doubt, however, that some of the children have found it hard to keep going the longer lockdown has gone on.”
The Westpark youngsters, in their distinctive red and yellow vests, regularly turn out in force at the Duthie junior parkrun and were also planning to take part in the Balgownie Primary School’s cross country meeting in March and in April’s Balmoral races.
Nigel said: “We had our bus ready for Balgownie, but it was called off the day before it was due to happen when the coronavirus crisis kicked off.
“Balmoral also had to be cancelled, which was a real blow. We took 50 children and parents there last year and it’s such a great day out for everyone.
“It was particularly frustrating for one of our pupils, Mia Mcdermid, who won the competition to design the t-shirts for the primary schools races.
“She was disappointed, but she has remained busy. She’s a member of Metro Aberdeen Running Club, and she and the juniors there have been painting stones in the club colours and leaving them in different locations around Hazlehead.
“Mia and her mum have challenged me to find as many of the stones as possible.”