There’s something appealing about the idea of running at night.
One, no one can see your pain. Two, no one can judge your running style, or lack thereof. A third reason – leaving the husband to clean up after dinner and put the children to bed – is perhaps the icing on the cake.
Meet the Night Striders.
This group of women (and one man, who is the husband of one of the Striders and moonlights as their coach) can be seen running at varying speeds in and around Lambton on any given night.
Some of the women are married, some are single mums. Some are ready for a marathon, while others occupy a grey area between a brisk walk and a jog. All, however, share one thing – a strong friendship.
Darlene Reis was keen to get back into running after the birth of her second son but a dog attack curbed her enthusiasm.
‘‘Every time I tried running after the attack I could hear and imagine a dog running after me. Eventually I just didn’t go any more,’’ Reis says.
‘‘I tried a few things for exercise, like joining the gym or going to dance classes, but nothing gave me satisfaction like running or jogging did. Also, it had to fit in with my family’s routine.’’
She got talking to Melinda Roberts at a party and they agreed to go running together at 7pm – ‘‘a guilt-free time, given that our children would have eaten their dinner, done homework, bathed and were in their pyjamas ready for bed,’’ Reis says.
Off they went on a seven-kilometre run, Reiss armed with ‘‘dog donger’’. And so the Night Striders came into being.
Newcastle solicitor and mother of two Melaine Connolly was the next convert.
‘‘It all started about 12 months ago. Us girls got sick and tired of the men dominating all the training time, so we started running at night. While we run, the husbands get the kids into bed and wash up. At least that’s the idea,’’ she laughs.
Some Striders are more active than others. Some have good intentions but are not regulars. On chilly nights, to be fair, most Striders are likely to be at home in their ugg boots.
‘‘We normally start at one of the girl’s homes, in New Lambton or Lambton, at about 7pm,’’ Connolly says.
‘‘We are from all walks of life. Two of our members have lost over 60kilograms each.’’
Connolly says the group is not at all competitive.
‘‘You know what happens with me? The others will run back and pick me up. Just say we’re going up a hill [and I hate hills], I am always behind.
‘‘The others will get to the top of the hill and turn back to run with me. We never leave anyone behind.’’
Kotara South’s Lee Nichols, a Hunter New England Health employee and mother of two boys, runs when she can.
‘‘We all lead busy lives, if you can run, you run. If not, you don’t – no questions asked,’’ she says.
‘‘I am mostly at the back of the pack. You just peel off from the group when you’ve hit your limit.’’
Amy Hilton says if you feel like a run, posting it on the group’s Facebook page will result in a running buddy in no time at all.
Elle Dalzell, of New Lambton, has three children aged 8, 5 and 2.
‘‘It is easy to let my own health and sense of self get crowded out by the demands of children. Running with these girls I have a chat, a laugh, a whinge and find lots of open ears, hearts and minds. It’s addictive,’’ she says.
Members meet socially, sometimes over coffee, often over champagne.
Keep an eye out for women running with headlamps. And if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Reis wielding the so-called ‘‘dog donger’’ (taken from her son’s toy drum kit) to ward off overly inquisitive canines.
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