I decided recently not to be part of any formal running groups so that I could run for fun with no stress.  I am still a member of a number of social running clubs still though because I love the support I get from other runners and the support I can give back.  I’m actually an admin in a group called Run or Cake, which I love and has the most amazing people in it.  I could tell you what it’s all about but instead I interviewed the group creator, Les Jackson, because he can do a much better job then I ever can.

Name: Les Jackson

Group Name: Run or Cake

Run or cake is an interesting concept, how did it come about?

I was having a random conversation with another runner about running and eating cake afterwards, and about people feeling guilty eating cake. I came out with something along the lines of “I should set up a running page where if you haven’t run your not allowed to eat your cake,  and you have to give it to me”. Later on I thought ‘maybe that’s a good idea, and I could give it a charity element and also be helpful to runners in general who want targets etc to stick to’.

So… how does it work?

The principle is you join the group and pledge or commit to a certain amount of runs a week, a bit like Jantastic for example. But in this group you will get personal interaction with a personal Admin who monitors and helps you when needed with advice and support etc. You will also get personal interaction with other members of the group.

What happens if you can’t run?

If you can’t run then you forfeit the cake you would of earned by going out for a run. My original idea of people giving it to me obviously wouldn’t work as I would never really meet people very often, and I would clearly get way too much cake for me to eat.
The solution was that instead of the cake you forfeit 50p (typical cheap bit of cake) and you pay it to a charity. I set up a fundraising page for the forfeits to be paid into and carefully selected a number of charities I thought people would be happy to donate too. I chose two at least that where local to the North West itself.

Obviously there would come a time when some people can’t run due to illness,injury or going on holidays etc and I didn’t want to lose them from the group because they did not want to pay forfeits while unable to run. That’s when I came up with the Playing a ‘Joker’ idea so you could get a guilt free week off without penalty. First one is free and then after that to stop people trying to get out of forfeits or getting lazy by just playing a Joker when they can’t be bothered I made subsequent Jokers £1 per week.

How many group members do you have?

There are currently roughly 80 members in the group, I initially pre invited fellow running friends I thought would be interested and would benefit, and also would form a friendly group.

And how many lovely admin people look after them?

I currently have 9 Admins on the team who give up their time freely.

Which charity does the donation go to?

Currently the donations go to four different charities:

THHN – Torbay Holiday Helpers Network
Alder Hey Children’s Charity
Claire House Children’s Hospice
Mind for better mental health.

How much has been made so far?

This week the total stands at £1359 inc Gift Aid, it has taken off really well.

Can anyone join and how do they go about it?

In order to keep the group size manageable and personable and friendly I have limited the group size to 100 members at the moment, but I have 80 members so currently have space. I am mainly taking new members who have been recommended by other group members, or people I know through my running contacts. Mostly it is people within the North West because we do occasionally meet up at events and it is easier if we are all fairly local. I do make exceptions though.
If people want to send a join request on the group page they are free to do so.

And there’s some lovely snazzy attire I can purchase?

We now have a range of Run or Cake merchandise available through a well known running specialist store in the North West ‘Run Geek’ they helped me design and sort out the artwork or logo’s etc for the final choices. We have a hoodie, T-shirt and a vest all available in our chosen colours of bright purple and also black, both with electric green lettering on. We also have an optional back print with a slightly adapted famous Dean Karnazes quote which I personally OK’d with Dean before going ahead. You will have to look out for the Karnazes quote when you see a Run or Caker at an event.

Final question, most importantly, what’s your favourite type of cake?

I have a firm favourite in coffee cake, although it tends to be the one I get less often. I did however buy a whole one for charity once for £10 and had the challenge of eating it all before it went stale. It only took me two and a half days.

Thank you very much Les. You can find Run or Cake on facebook.