How the Club Was Formed
With the launch of the London Marathon in 1981, there was a steady increase in interest in distance running from the early eighties onwards. Newport Harriers were then the only club to offer long distance running. They were predominant in track and field disciplines and a formidable force at 5km, 10km, half marathon and marathon distances too. By 1984/5 clubs whose sole interest was distance running were launching all over the country. These encouraged the whole idea of social running, where participation and personal challenge were the prime focus.
Early in 1985, running sessions were being offered by Lliswerry Leisure Centre (based at Lliswerry High School) as with other leisure centres at Fairwater, Griffithstown, Risca and Chepstow. The (then) Leisure Centre Manager, Roy Skelton together with Assistant Manager & runner, Colin Dow staged a fun run of about 3 miles to & from the centre around Straits Lane. The participant numbers convinced these guys that a running club would be viable, so they advertised in the South Wales Argus to seek members.
Club Founder, John Hill was one of those people who attended the first meeting and together with Neil Chipper, Phil Price and about 9 others formed the running group originally named Lliswerry Loafers which became Lliswerry Runners. They took the now iconic maroon & white colours for the kit as these were these were used by the school.
The club has used the same school as the location for the Lliswerry 8 race ever since but moved training to Newport Stadium when it was built as part of the Newport International Sports Village (NISV) development.
The club has grown significantly since then but John’s observation is one which we take most pride in. The club may have grown from 12 members to 600 but…..
“….our club ethos has not changed in 35 years. We are still Newport’s friendly running club”
Phil Price, Neil Chipper & John Hill are all Life Members and are still running, 35 plus years on!
They were founding members of the club and we have much to thank them for.
Phil was our very first Club Coach, writing sessions for members when we first moved to the track from our original meeting place at Lliswerry Leisure Centre (now Lliswerry High School).
Neil has worn the Lliswerry vest & represented the club in distances up to marathon for the last 35 years.
John was Secretary and the main driving force for 25 years, putting so much work into establishing the club with his wife Sue who managed the kit.
Back in the 80s, the options for juniors who loved running was quite limited. The most gifted children often gravitated towards the track & field clubs like Newport Harriers who did & do a marvellous job preparing them for competition. However, not all juniors wished to compete on the track.
Influenced by our then club coach Phil Price who wanted to encourage his son & his daughter into running and with the assistance of some volunteer coaches like Robin Parsons, the club decide to create a junior section.
Pictured are Ben (902) & Lucy (901) ready to run in the “Milk Race”, a local event organised by the Milk Marketing Board and an early example of race sponsorship. Also pictured here are Mark Rowberry, Bob Sweeny (our then Chair) & Jason Bromley.
This early encouragement of juniors certainly shaped Ben’s life. He followed Phil over to Lanzarote to Club La Santa which offers sports training holidays and both became triathlon coaches there. Ben has also gone on to complete many triathlons and is very capable over Iron Man distance.