Introducing: ‘The Mandela Runners’

Ben Fraser

Chapeltown, LS7, is the latest suburb in the city to join the Run Leeds family! This exciting development in the North East of the city will bring organised group runs to the heart of the community. The opportunity to run together, led by qualified run leaders will be available to all at no cost.


‘The Mandela Runners’  draws its inspiration and name from the political revolutionary who visited Leeds in 2001. During this visit Nelson Mandela spoke in Millennium Square: a grand space previously named the ‘Mandela Garden’ in honour of this great figurehead!


This inspirational link connects closer to home in Chapeltown with the Mandela Centre acting as a community hub for many people locally and a visual reminder of his and many others struggle against apartheid and racism globally!  


What you might not know is Nelson Mandela was a keen runner who harnessed the sport as a tool of self discipline.


One of the people leading the group is embarking on a journey wider than running itself. Mike, has set up a social enterprise, based in an indoor studio dedicated to providing people with a wide variety of exercise classes, including: Yoga, Pilates, Kickboxing and Self Defence, Women’s only classes, Circuit training, General fitness and training programmes for all!


Before the opening of the studio the people of Chapeltown would have had to venture into town or visit neighbouring Chapel Allerton to take part in organised activities. 


Mike commented:


We provide the community with a variety of exercise classes with something suitable for all ages and abilities at affordable prices. Our classes are small to medium sized meaning that everyone who joins in will have as much or as little attention as they need.




For those who have their own personal goals, we are open through the daytime with each visitor able to benefit from their own training programme or personal training session without having to pay the regular PT prices!


The Mandela Runners have also partnered up with the local running events company – Run for All. The company has kindly offered the group 20 free entries to this year’s Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k.


Charlie Tatman, Events Team Manager at RFA stated:


This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Leeds 10K, set up by the late Jane Tomlinson.  We expect 10,000 people to take to the streets on Sunday 10th July, raising many thousands for a range of local and regional charities.  It’s a flat route and with spectators lining the route and the city centre finish, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get involved in a major sporting event.


The Mandela Runners are not only geared for a summer sprint towards the Leeds 10k… Mike and his run leader accomplices Joan and Bev are ready to take absolute beginners from the couch and embark on a journey of learning to run!


Charlie added:


As the name suggests, Run For All’s events represent a wonderfully welcoming entry into major event running.  Ability is irrelevant; we see all types of runner and walker enter the Leeds 10K, and we recognise each and every person’s reason for taking to the start line. 


Running has wide-ranging benefits – whether it be in terms of community cohesion, integration or the individual’s self-improvement and health reasons – and it is fantastic to see this grassroots project taking shape.  Good luck to all involved, and I look forward to Run For All and the Leeds 10K supporting this project long-term.’


Chapeltown has a cloudy history with running and athletics due to the shortage of a dedicated space and a social hub to develop it. We hope that the Mandela Runners can begin to fill this gap that has been vacant for too long!


Jay Minott, Active Sport Officer for North East Leeds believe it starts with good planning and structure:


Leeds City Council’s Sport and Active Lifestyles service are supporting the Mandela Runners with local, regional and national funding streams. Club management which covers a number of important areas. These include making sure your club structure is appropriate for your needs – your governance helps you to run the club effectively and you are regularly planning a healthy and sustainable future for your club.




A healthy group is one that is always looking to improve and develop!


The area sits as a gateway to some fantastic running in the city! The LS7 intersection in Chapeltown will give runners’ access to Chapel Allerton, Roundhay, Potternewton and Harehills areas – all of which offer different terrain and visual sights to keep every route fresh and exciting. 


The Mandela Runners sessions will start from the Chapeltown Exercise Studio off Chapeltown Road every Tuesday at 6:30pm. All sessions are free to attend with all abilities from beginner to intermediate and advanced catered for by dedicated run leaders.




Register your interest  by commenting or emailing Ben Fraser on or calling on 07794247864


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