Running Aunties - Our Story

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By Bernadette, Tahreen and Shahnaz, Co-founders of Running Aunties  

"At first, I couldn’t run, I could only walk. I was unsure about running but I was told we could walk and build up to running. I couldn’t believe it when I completed the 0 to 5K programme." - Tahreen

The Running Aunties is a running and walking group aimed at women of colour. Bernadette, Tahreen, and Shanaz started the group when they realised there was a gap locally for running opportunities that cater specifically for BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) women.

Where it all started

"At first, I couldn’t run, I could only walk. I was unsure about running but I was told we could walk and build up to running. I ran 5K non-stop, which was absolutely amazing. It felt like a dream. From then onwards we started doing Park Runs which weren’t too bad because it was in a park and there were lots of people.

"I did a couple of runs on the road, but I really struggled to enjoy it. The reason why I didn’t enjoy it, was because Asian middle-aged women in my culture are not supposed to mix with men, especially outdoors. I also didn’t have the confidence to run freely. I was always trying to hide under a large hoodie, so nobody would recognise me. It’s very difficult to explain the cultural aspect. That’s when we decided we needed to do something for the BAME women who find it difficult to run. I knew we had to break the cycle." - Tahreen

"With motivation from the coach, Tahreen, and my new friend Bernadette, I started to run." - Shahnaz

"When my friend Tahreen rang and asked if I wanted to come running. I thought to myself running at my age and being Asian, 'I can't do that, what if someone saw me. What would the community say?' But Tahreen assured me that it was private and we wouldn't be seen by anyone.

"When I joined the group, I started the training by walking and then running. But I could stop whenever I needed to.
I said I'm not going to be able to run all the way there. Tahreen and Bernadette said 'Don't worry, we won't leave you behind. We can run and walk if you get tired.'

"Then lockdown happened and we couldn't run anymore. The Government said that we couldn't exercise in large groups, the three of us started running around Saville Moor early in the morning. That's when we talked about running as a ladies-only group and said there must be other women who feel like us. So that how we formed our group." - Shahnaz

Running Aunties

We started running on the Couch to 5k programme which lasted around 8 weeks. We often talked about setting up a running group, because we were fed up with not seeing people who looked like us when we were out running.

We felt like we needed to set up our own group, and empower more women to be able to run on their own, and not feel that they can’t do it.

"We have found friendship, laughter, encouragement, and fitness from running" - Bernadette  

We'd been regularly running for about 15 months, and then in September 2020 we started Running Aunties

The Running Aunties meet on Sunday mornings at 8.45 am, starting at the Salterhebble entrance of the canal where there is parking, and it is accessible. We continue to follow government guidance and remain safe and social distancing compliant.

There is a walking option for members who do not feel able to run. Beginner runners will be supported to start the NHS Couch to 5k, 8 week programme.

People like us

We want to encourage more women to run outside and to feel good about themselves. That’s what our goal is for the group. But the most important thing is that we enjoy what we do.

The pandemic and the cold, winter months haven’t slowed us down. Running Aunties already has 10 members since starting, and we run or walk in pairs so that we can continue to support each other whilst following government guidance and keeping each other safe.  

"I completed my first 5k run when I was 50 years old." - Tahreen

We choose the walking routes at the canal at Salterhebble which is a fabulous route. It's not too busy, and the members have enjoyed coming to the running/walking group every Sunday. Not only has it been a great way to exercise, but it’s also been instrumental to our well-being.  

"If I can do it anybody can do it. All we need is to encourage each other" - Tahreen  

We wanted to pass the benefits of being part of a running group onto other women. We knew from talking to our friends and family that there was a need for this type of group and we're so pleased that we started the group because so far it's been an amazing experience.

"I don't look like a runner, I'm middle-aged, black and overweight. But I run, so I'm a runner." - Bernadette

"Running has given me self confidence, self-esteem and improved my cardiovascular fitness. I am so grateful that I have the ability to run. I never take it for granted that I am able to move my body. When so many cannot.

"Running is a great sport, that most people have the ability to do.  Exercising outdoors allows me to experience nature and manage my mental health. One of my exercise regrets is that I didn't start my running journey sooner." - Bernadette

Get involved

We're also now part of the walking workshop ran by Active Calderdale, and we’re excited to connect with others in Calderdale to find new routes so that we can make our outings more varied when restrictions are eased.  

We've been very lucky to be supported by Active Calderdale and Staying Well, especially Rachael Swaby and Suzanne Straughan, who both continue to be our cheerleaders. 

For more information, please contact Bernadette on 07901378786 or by emailing