BY SOPHIE CLIFTON-TUCKER
If, like me, your resolution is to move a little more in 2022, then CorreLibre could be just the ticket. This group of casual runners meets once a week – either in Spain or Gibraltar, depending on current restrictions – cultivating a healthier body and mind, and rounding it off with a celebratory breakfast. I’m in!
What is CorreLibre?
Before I moved to Gibraltar in 2014, I used to do w weekly Parkrun (www.parkrun.com). Parkrun is a free, weekly, timed 5k run, and before Covid, 10s of thousands of people did it in the UK and worldwide. There isn’t a Parkrun here or in Spain.
One of my friends, Joe Perdoni, who had also moved out to Gib, is also a Parkrun fan – he has done over 100 Parkruns. We realised that there was nothing like Parkrun here – the running clubs and the GAAA are more focused on elite runners and fast people, not people who run slowly.
Joe and I decided to set up a Parkrun copy, and decided that we should place the route just over the border in Spain. We spent a happy Saturday cycling round La Linea before we chose a route from near the border to the La Marina restaurant and back. The route is on the promenade and there are no roads to cross, so it’s pretty safe.
We put details – 9am start, 5k run – on Speak Freely and in the Chronicle and waited for runners. Gradually more and more people came. We average about 15 people running now, and can cater for many more. After a few weeks from the start we tended to go to Las Tablas for breakfast and chat. We got to know the staff there, and now keep our trophies in Las Tablas behind the bar.
We have entered teams for the GAAA road runner league and have won a trophy. We also have CorreLibre awards for most improved runners – one male one female. This is the Alan Wong award – Alan is a founder member who moved to Ireland just before the pandemic.
Another award is for volunteering – Mitchell Fraser was the first recipient and it’s named after him. Mitch developed the app we use for timing the runs and also maintains our website (correlibre.club).
Since the pandemic, it’s been hard to get to Spain, so we run at 8:30 every Saturday and on bank holidays, starting at the 100 ton gun and finishing at the Piccadilly for breakfast.
We are now sponsored by Knightsbridge (knightsbridge.gi); after three runs, members receive a free shirt!
What are the health benefits of this sort of running? (Both physical and mental.)
Our hashtag is #ItsNotARace – we emphasise that it’s a run, and we have a first finisher and a tail runner. There are no winners and no losers. This makes CorreLibre a very safe space for runners just starting out, or who want to run/walk. Our slowest run for the 5.3k Gibraltar course is 49 minutes and 57 seconds. Our slowest run overall is 51 minutes and 59 seconds.
Running improves physical health – it increases cardiovascular fitness and strengthens muscles. For example, I used to get a lot of knee pain, but running has strengthened my muscles and the pain has stopped.
Mental health also benefits – running outside means fresh air and no screens. It’s a good time to clear your head.
CorreLibre also offers encouragement – we celebrate personal bests, we share stories of running highs and lows, members sometimes meet during the week to run.
Volunteers also benefit – I marshal most weeks, assisted by Lucy Rees. We both enjoy hanging out together while others run, and I get a buzz from providing the times and organising each weekly event. Parkrun did research on mental health that showed how their events benefit mental health. They also showed that volunteering has an even bigger positive effect.
In the UK, some doctors even prescribe Parkrun for physical and mental health. I would love that to happen here.
There are no winners and no losers.
CorreLibre runners share their stories:
CHRISSIE BAUR CAETANO: I fell into running a few years ago, when a good friend and I thought we would see how our speed and fitness compared to others in a GAAA race. I then joined the road runners league and did reasonably well for my age category. In August 2020 another good friend convinced me to join the CorreLibre Saturday 5k park run since we’d both been running throughout the lockdown. Going in with the same competitive nature I either set PBs or ran to try for a PB, though the emphasis from the group has always been it’s a run not a race.
I’m not sure how it happened but over time I started becoming the tail runner, running at the pace of the last runner. If I was not the tail runner I would perhaps run and chat with a friend. Saturday morning running became a hobby, I actually enjoyed the running, was not worried about going as fast as possible and found myself encouraging others to push that little bit more (though some may say it’s uber-encouraging!). CorreLibre has certainly given me a different perspective on running, I’ve met some lovely people with a great sense of humour and best of all is the well-deserved breakfast after every run!
CAROL BODDY: I joined CorreLibre in May 2021. I have always been a keen swimmer and I started running in 2008. I soon started entering competitions and ran four half marathons and competed in sprint distance triathlons between 2010 and 2016. I enjoy sport very much but I have always been a ‘back of the pack’ runner. Joining CorreLibre has given me a new enthusiasm for running. I have steadily improved my time over the 5km distance with the support of a great group of people, who always encourage but never push you beyond your limits. My Saturday mornings now start with a swim at 7.15am, then a quick dash to the 100 Ton Gun for 8.30 start of the CorreLibre run. After that a well-deserved breakfast at the Piccadilly Bar. If you can spare an hour on a Saturday morning, why not give it a try?
Can anyone join? How do I sign up?!
CorreLibre is open to anyone. For your own safety you probably need a decent pair of running shoes. After that, just come along to the 100 ton gun for 8:30 on a Saturday.
We often hear people say that they want to get fit before they come along – there is no need. Take as long as you want to do the course. There will always be someone slower – the tail runner.
Follow CorreLibre on Facebook for details of each weekly event.