“There’s a lot of beautiful places in Manchester” - zipping through the city’s secret spaces

In the second of our series, woo and New Balance meet Olivia, who’s part of Mancunian creative and social running club Snappy Runners

In the second of our series, woo and New Balance meet Olivia, who’s part of Mancunian creative and social running club Snappy Runners

By Team Woo23 Mar 2023
5 mins read time
5 mins read time

Jogging through the Northern Quarter, skimming along the canals, speeding across Trinity Bridge; the second of woo and New Balance’s series of videos casting a light on the many diverse running clubs across the UK takes us to Manchester.

This is where we see musician [ K S R ] get into running for the first time ever with Olivia, a member of Snappy Runners. This running club is for young Mancunians looking to explore the more beautiful parts of the bustling metropolis and step together in their goals.

We caught up with Olivia to find out a bit more about what motivates her, how being part of a club keeps her in step with her community and how running her city helps her get a new perspective on where she lives.

Olivia, who joined her first running club in 2017, would describe herself as a latecomer to the sport but now she certainly isn’t looking back. Going on to complete her first half marathon two years later, she knew that when she moved back home to Manchester last year, she would be keeping up the sport.

That’s how she came to join Manchester’s Snappy Runners. For her, it was a way to not only immerse herself in the city’s geography but its people, too. “I moved back to Manchester after some years away and wanted to rediscover the city and meet new people,” she says. “I knew that I enjoyed running with a group, so when I heard about Snappy Runners I thought it’d be a great way to combine my love of running and being part of a community.”

Often, we think that people are either creative or athletic, but Snappy Runners provides space for Olivia to celebrate both sides of her and meet like-minded people. “I also wanted to explore the creative industry in Manchester and Snappy Runners looked like it really embraced creativity and offered a space to contribute to this,” she adds.

Over time, she was able to build a rapport with her fellow club members and she particularly recommends social runs for those hoping to build their circle of friends. “When you’re with a club on their social run it will be at a comfortable pace where you should be able to chat. It’s actually really important to keep a couple of weekly sessions at an easy conversational pace,” she says.

But beyond the camaraderie offered within Snappy Runners itself, Olivia admits that Manchester is a city of runners - an accommodating place where you can see plenty of road runners pounding the pavements at the weekend. “Manchester is a super friendly city and also a very active place to be,” she explains. “There’s so many people running in and around the city and seeing other runners is always inspiring.”

This observation runs contrary to the assumption that city running is boring and uncomfortable, and Olivia feels strongly that there are plenty of overlooked positives to donning your running clothes when you live in an urban setting. “Of course, we’re dealing with pollution and busy roads,” she acknowledges. “However, I think there are good things that we can take from running in urban landscapes. If you’re new to a city, it’s a great way to see it from a new perspective that not everyone gets to see”

It’s also worth noting that running in a city offers so much more than just physical activity - it’s also a major asset to some people’s mental health. “Being in a busy city can become overwhelming sometimes, but running really allows me to tune out and focus on the flow that running can provide, she explains.

“My runs are a moment to eliminate distractions and practice meditation. We can easily get into our heads and let life and anxieties carry us away, but running really is my moment to allow my mind to wander and find flow. And once I find flow there’s nothing else I need to expect of myself.”

“You can become more tuned into what really matters and so the simplicity and notion of running reminds me of that.”

Now, six years into her relationship with running, Olivia is discovering the wider changes in attitude and perspective that come with the endurance sport in the long-term.

“I’ve never felt more consistent than I have with running. It’s been a long process and still one that’s ongoing but what I’ve learned from running has interlinked into my own life and values. I’ve learned to be more patient especially when it comes to a process. It’s so easy to want results straight away and, being a creative myself, I’m learning to enjoy the process that comes with creativity - one that can feel like you’ll never see results”

And beyond her own journey with running, the Snappy Runners’ outlook is growing and developing in tandem with Olivia’s more philosophical approach, too.

“I see Snappy Runners evolving around the community it attracts with a more cooperative approach to the running community, encouraging people to tell their own stories and inspire more people in Manchester to take up running.”

This article has been brought to you in partnership with New Balance, which is working to get people on the move with its 2023 TCS London Marathon range.