Powered up by Positivity – The Drighlington Dynamos!

Victoria Cusack

Run Leeds had the absolute pleasure of meeting Danny Barnes, a Gardener by trade, a keen runner, and one of the co-founders of the Drighlington Dynamo’s Running Club. Danny, and his wife Louise, recently took home the Leeds 2023 Sports Award, for the category ‘Inspirational Community Champions’. After a couple of hours chatting to him, it is easy to see why. Danny’s passion for running and desire to help and support others to be more active, is as clear and bright as a Dynamo bike light!

To provide a bit of background, The Drighlington Dynamos is a relatively new run club. It started back in June 2021, when the pandemic and lock-down restrictions were still very much a part of everyday life. Louise came up with the fantastic name of the club, chosen partly because of the club’s location. But the main reason for the ‘Drighlington Dynamos’ was that it sounded friendly, which is one of the key aims of the club.

What initially began as a couch to 5k, to get members of the local community to be more active, enjoy the outdoors, improve mental health and promote a healthier lifestyle, very quickly became an overnight success. The Facebook group had over one hundred members join from that first session!

The popularity of the club has continued to grow. Over the past year or so, the run club has developed, and now has over six hundred Facebook members. Around 70% of the run club is female, which is somewhat unusual for the running world, but represents the growing tide of female runners who want to run, all year round, when the evenings are dark, and feel that there is safety in numbers.

This ever-expanding run club now has five run groups to cater for all running abilities, with each group led and supported by the club’s sixteen qualified Run Leaders or LiRF’s, one of which is a GB Duathlete. The Dynamo’s also have a Walking group, aptly named the ‘Walkie Talkies’, for those not ready to run or preferring a slower pace. These twice weekly sessions get around one hundred people running and being active every single week!

Even though as a club there is no pressure to race, the Drighlington Dynamos has over forty members signed up to do the Rob Burrow’s Leeds Marathon, including Danny himself. So, an additional weekend long run session has also been put on to support those training for the marathon distance. The club also have several members who race in local events such as the Morley and Dewsbury 10ks, as well as extra track sessions at Leeds Beckett. And if that wasn’t enough, the Dynamo’s also have ‘Parkrun Ambassadors’, who will organise which of the local 5km parkrun the club will attend that Saturday, so there is always someone you will know if you’ve not tried it before or would like some additional support.

All pretty impressive for a club set up entirely by volunteers from the community. With a current committee of just five people to organise sessions and oversee the admin, Danny and Louise (Welfare Officer and so much more), are also joined by John (Secretary and Welfare Officer), Dawn (Treasurer), and Caroline (Application & membership). Danny is keen to point out that without this group of hard working and dedicated people, the club wouldn’t be able to operate as smoothy and successfully as it does.

The run club were also given a start-up fund and ongoing financial support from local business owner and runner Bobby, and Minal Patel of ­­­Prashad restaurant. Who helped to provide the run club with T-Shirts and Run Vests so that the club had a clear identity from the very start.

When asked to explain the possible reasons for the rapid growth and success of this particular run group, Danny’s response suggests a multitude of reasons. Perhaps it was down to timing and circumstances of when the club was initially set up, with lockdown limiting gym and indoor options. Or the close-knit nature of Drighlington community. Or maybe the variety of sessions they have on offer to cater for all types of runner and walker.

However, I suspect that the main success of this group is attributed largely to the co-founders – Danny and Louise, whose warm welcome, inclusive focus, and hard work behind the scenes, have made this more than just a group of people that run or walk together. They have created a place where everyone is made to feel welcome, no matter what age, shape, size, ability or background. They have clearly put a lot of effort into overcoming the barriers that might prevent someone from wanting to join a run club, fearing it is for ‘elite’ runners only.

Danny is also keen to make sure that anyone new joining the group is met with a personal welcome and will be given a run buddy in that run group. The same level of care and attention is given when someone hasn’t attended for a while, with a quick message or call to make sure everything is ok, whether they are injured or life is just too hectic to train, Danny reminds them that the club will be there when they are ready to come back.

There also seems to be a pretty sociable side to the club too. Training sessions will often end with a post-run drink and catch up, allowing all the groups to mingle. With frequent non running events held such as BBQs, Christmas Dos and post-race celebrations, which provide an extended welcome and thank you to family and friends who may not be runners, but support and volunteer for the community.

When talking about the members of the Drighlington Dynamo run club, there is a genuine warmth and pride that Danny clearly has, regarding all aspects of the club. From the talent of some of the more competitive runners, to the community spirit and dedication shown by the more social runners and walkers. Such as the three sisters who run together for a catch up each week. Everyone is celebrated in this club, in the same way that everyone is welcomed. The Drighlington Dynamos really are a run club powered by positivity.

So, what next for the Drighlington Dynamos? Possibly hosting their own race event? Whatever it is, you can be sure it will be fun, friendly and inclusive. Run Leeds cannot wait 😊


Interested in joining the Drighlington Dynamos?

The club which started in June 2021, now has many runners that come out in droves to pound the streets of Drighlington twice a week.

When they meet…

They meet at Drighlington Community Sports Club every Monday and Wednesday at 6:30pm and are an affiliated running club offering mixed groups.

The club also have walking group called the Walkie Talkies for those who are not quite ready for a run yet.

The Dynamos also run a couch to 5k programme as well for beginners or those returning to running.

“We are a very inclusive group who welcome runners of all abilities.”

You can find further information about the Drighlington Dynamos on their website link below:

Drighlington Dynamos Running Club – Home