The club was formed in 1996 by a small group of friends based in and around Penrith who felt there was a need for a more local running club, since the nearest existing clubs were around 20 miles away in Keswick or Carlisle and as such, Eden Runners saw a surprisingly keen launch with around 60 attendees. Those original founder members chose blue and green as their club colours in order to represent the River Eden and surrounding fells. Some of the original pioneers have remained active members ever since – while others among them have returned to take an active part in club activities. Over the years, members of Eden Runners have represented their club in cross-country, road and fell races both up and down the UK and in places around the planet, with marathon performances in New York and throughout Europe – some of these with GB representation. There have been many notable performances at ultra-distance events in recent years, again both domestically and much further afield. Locally, the famously gruelling Bob Graham Round has been successfully completed by many Eden Runners, whilst club members continue to provide support to others attempting this difficult challenge each year.
From the clubs’ humble beginnings, its integral values of inclusiveness, encouragement, supportiveness, and celebration of success at all ability levels soon saw the member numbers increase to well over 100. Subsequently, in response to demand the committee founded Eden Juniors, which soon began to bear fruit, and thanks to the efforts and dedication of a succession of volunteer coaches and helpers remains very popular, with a waiting list in several of the age groups. Over the years, many Eden juniors have progressed through the junior ranks to eventually run with the senior club at a very high level – with several going on to represent their country at international events.
In the early days, Eden Runners focus was pretty much solely on group training sessions on Wednesday evenings from Penrith Rugby Club. Longer weekend training runs stemmed from there, and as the club got involved in the local cross-country leagues, this led to longer road-trips to races both on and off-road, and a strong social element quickly developed – and this continues to be a major aspect of the club’s popularity.
Winter training was – and still is – based mostly in and around Penrith, and of course the well-established club tradition continues of taking Wednesday ‘Club nights’ out on the road as soon as the longer spring daylight allows. There is always the opportunity to re-fuel and socialise post-run; recognising the importance of hard work and improvement, but also emphasising the need for recovery and relaxation thereafter.
When Parkrun arrived at long last in Cumbria in 2014, Eden Runners worked very closely with Eden District Council to organise & set up Penrith Parkrun at Frenchfield sports centre. Subsequently, in early 2016, seeing a real need to provide a ‘bridge’ from total beginner to ‘parkrun’ participation, volunteer coaches from Eden Runners set up Ready2Run Eden, a group meeting each Monday at Penrith Rugby Club, specifically for absolute beginners or those returning to running after a break. This has proved highly successful, the emphasis being on providing a non-competitive environment for those who wish to try running without feeling pressured. Both of these developments have been important factors in widening the appeal of the club in recent years – and Eden Runners has steadily grown to almost 300 members, offering training sessions on ‘most’ days of the week.
The club’s signature road race – the iconic Haweswater Half Marathon – grew from the Penrith Half which was initially organised independently by runners based in Penrith in the early 1990s. Eden Runners took over the running of that event and moved it out to Haweswater. Apart from breaks caused by the Foot & Mouth outbreak in 2001, and the occasional cancellation due to heavy snow, the event continues to be a popular fixture on many a runner’s calendar on the first Sunday in March every year. The club initiated its annual autumn 10k road race – the Stoneybeck 10k, in September 2015. After 5 yrs of steady growth, it was felt that the event had outgrown the venue, and so in 2020 this event was relocated and renamed the Acorn Bank 10k – though due to Covid restrictions the first event at the new venue was delayed to 2021. The beautiful woodland setting of this National Trust property near Temple Sowerby in the Eden Valley is a perfect fit for this lovely race, using the surrounding quiet leafy lanes. On the fells, the club hosts the ever-popular Blencathra Fell Race in early June each year, a truly spectacular but testing course with its start & finish in Mungrisdale village. With each of these races, and with all its activities, the club recognises the importance of working closely with local community groups – this attitude remains central to the club’s ethos.