Foxy Ladies Running Club was established in December 2013 by qualified Coach In Running Fitness (CIRF), Julia Griggs.  From an initial small group in the bitter December winds, by January 2014 the club had doubled in size just through word of mouth alone.

The club was born from the difficulties Julia faced when searching for a running club to join herself back in 2009; most only offered evening sessions which clashed with home life, or others required certain ability/pace in order to join.  With this in mind, Julia set about creating a running club that focused on fun as well as running, and offered women sessions during the day to utilise their children being at school and opening up the club to all abilities regardless of pace or experience. The need for a group like the Foxy Ladies was evident as the group held their first ‘Learn to Run course’, with every capacity selling out almost instantly.

In order to meet increasing demand, Julia needed to recruit more run leaders.  The group now has over 150 members that are supported by 6 qualified and enthusiastic run leaders alongside Julia. The club’s overall ethos is that anyone can run, as long as they believe in themselves and with the support and encouragement from the inspiring run leaders they can utilise the guidance they need to start their running journey and progress as a result. 

In addition to this, the relationships and bonds that are developed by being part of a club like this are enviable and Julia says; “I think whilst fun and fitness is at the heart of the club it has become so much more than just about running, the social side and the support have become an integral part of many our ladies lives and strong friendships and bonds have been made that will last a lifetime. For me personally, I get so much pleasure out of seeing ladies enjoying running and the many disciplines that go with it, not only that but also their sense of achievement when they have completed a learn to run course, a hill nonstop for the first time or run their furthest distance or achieved a PB. With all of these achievements you see the growing confidence that comes with it and that is priceless. 

Foxy Ladies Running Club not only pride themselves on the rapport and support network they bring to each other, but also support other local businesses and charities by backing local events. They utilise the connections they make with each other and support and endorse each other’s small businesses, as many of the ladies are self-employed. As well as shopping at local sport shops for trainers and sportswear and using local manufacturers of protein balls and printers.

It is evident that Foxy Ladies has become much more than just a running club to the community and it’s members. The ladies are always at the end of the phone to offer support and guidance if someone is having a difficult time, dropping parcels or flowers to the door to raise spirits and motivating each other to get out and run, it is clear that there the club encompasses a real sense of family. Julia says; ‘We are made up of women of all ages, shapes and sizes, from all different walks of life, but we all pull together and look after each other.’ 

The club’s commitment to supporting charities and encompassing community became even more apparent during their most recent fundraising effort.

During lockdown, many of the Foxy Ladies members took part in virtual races to raise money for both national and local charities including; NHS Run, Run4Louis, Care For Veterans VE Day run, plus many more! The whole club really got behind the 2.6 challenge.

The idea of the Nationwide 2.6 challenge was essentially to raise money for charities who would usually receive money through the London Marathon. With all running races being cancelled due to Covid19, many of these charities who would normally benefit from the London Marathon which enables them to continue their good work, would find it very difficult without the funding they usually receive at this time.  The Foxy Ladies pledged to cover 260 miles on Sunday 26th April in support of this challenge and absolutely smashed the target; ending up running 734 miles between 115 Foxes and 8 Fox Cubs, all on solo runs (adhering to social distancing guidelines.)

An incredible effort from all at Foxy Ladies, as they ran 474 miles more than the target set whilst raising a staggering £7,141 with gift aid, totally exceeding expectations. As a result, each charity will now receive over £1,000 each. Charities were chosen and voted for by the members of the club and include; West Sussex Mind, Safe in Sussex, Rocking Horse Children’s Charity, Kent, Surrey,  Sussex Air Ambulance and Chestnut Tree House. 

Foxy Ladies continues to go from strength to strength and when reflecting on the club’s growth to date, Julia reflects; ‘I am always so proud when we finish a learn to run course and we see women who perhaps struggled at the beginning running for 2 minutes completing their 5km run non-stop having ran for 40 minutes and then receiving their certificates, emotions are always running high that day.

I was also really overwhelmed and super proud last year when we had our most ever amount of members take part in the Worthing 10Km race in June. I think it bought home to me that day just how much the club had grown and what we have all achieved.  I think we had over 60 ladies take part, I remember seeing ladies, before and after the race walking about the promenade with their fox tops on and thinking oh my goodness I started this and look how far we have come, I got goose bumps and felt very emotional.

We often talk about the Foxy Spirit and I think that is one of my proudest achievements, we have got to 150 members and not lost sight of the spirit of the club, we ensure all our sessions are fun and that everyone is supported motivated and encouraged and that we never leave a Fox behind.’ 

The Foxy Ladies community, truly encompass and involve everyone, including members’ wider family networks. Families are encouraged to participate in charity races, virtual runs, park runs, or take on one of the many Foxy challenges throughout the year.

Understanding members’ additional commitments, the club also puts on sessions in the school holidays where Mums can bring their children along to the park, or beach greens to enable the children to play or join in whilst Mum exercises, but can still keep an eye on them.

The club are involved in the #RunandRevise campaign which allows children studying for GCSE and A-Level exams to join in sessions from March-May whilst they are revising for exams; providing opportunity to give them a break from the books and get some fresh air and exercise.

Foxy Ladies do not only provide incredible opportunities to improve physical health, but the mental benefits too. It’s proven that physical activity has many benefits for mental health and almost every runner in the club has either experienced mental health issues, or knows someone that has. The club always encourages talking during their sessions (where possible) as they identify that sharing worries and concerns is one of the ways in which members find it most useful and beneficial to their overall health.

Being outdoors is a great stimulant for all of the senses; raising heart rate and getting endorphins pumping it also contributes to mental wellbeing as well as aiding sleep which supports productivity and state of mind.

Foxy Ladies are proud participants of the #runandtalk campaign that is endorsed by England Athletics twice a year. 

Everyone feels nervous when they first join a club and Foxy Ladies recognise this and try to put new members at ease from the outset. The ladies are so welcoming from the moment you arrive!  The leaders are on hand to guide you to the most suitable session whether you are a complete beginner or someone that has completed marathons there is a group to suit everyone.  Leaders will talk you through at the beginning of a training session and then check on you periodically throughout and catch up with you at the end so at any time you feel uncomfortable they are always on hand to help.

The first session is free so there is no obligation to return if it’s not for you. The club also ensures they are inclusive to everyone’s work/life commitments.

Offering weekdays, weekends and evening sessions so that there should be an option for everyone. There are also offering training sessions or a run on every day of the week.

In addition there is currently 4 sessions running on a Saturday morning at varying times and levels to ensure accessibility for all members.

For Julia, the running community as a whole encompasses a sense of togetherness and community; everyone wants everyone to do well and achieve great things, and this is evident in the way members all come together in times of need for charities or causes that need highlighting or to support a member on their own personal running journey.

Foxy Ladies Running Club are an integral part of our local community; not only for what they do for each other, but for the local community and charities too, all through a shared interest, one with incredible benefits on physical and mental health for all.

The key words of the club; Fun, Friendly and Encouraging are testament to the incredible community and support network they’ve created.