IT IS a decade now since Winchester’s first Olympic-standard athletics track opened at Bar End Sports Stadium and just about every weekday evening stands as a testament to the transformative impact on the local community.

A thriving hub of athletes, aged from eight to 80, and ranging from beginners to world champions, congregate for their various training groups for Winchester and District Athletics Club, an organisation that has now grown to around 800 members.

It is the fifth largest athletics club in England; a remarkable success story in the context both of the city’s size and the club’s relatively short history since 1976. Karin Gray, who has been a coach and field event official since her daughter first joined more than a decade ago, has witnessed the “extraordinary evolution” from the days when there was no track or regular base and they would practice long jump in a grass field at Pilgrims’ School.

Now there are numerous county, national, and even international runners, right the way from James Lewis, the reigning Under-11 Hampshire cross-country winner, to the recently crowned world over-50s masters champion Kathy Bailey and former European champions Louise Damen and India Lee.

Expansion in members and athletes at every level, however, has brought a need for more coaches, officials and volunteers and an opportunity will arise in November when England Athletics will run a series of training courses in Winchester.

It offers the chance not just to help and support some of the best athletes in the country, but to be part of one of the most thriving, inclusive and social sports organisations in the region.

“The roles are vital in helping the athletes reach their potential but also exciting, hugely rewarding and completely flexible,” said Gray. Simon Harvey, who oversees the young endurance runners, says that he gets as much of a buzz from helping children of all levels (and even indirectly their parents) get fit and healthy as seeing an emerging group of national-level athletes develop.

“The growth of the club is a testament to the commitment of those volunteers who have been its fabric for decades but we need more people to step forward to keep pace with that success,” said chairman Paul Cox. The breadth of events can suit people of all ages and fitness level. From throwing, jumping and sprinting to long distance and cross country running through to an academy for young athletes, indoor sportshall competitions, veteran’s masters events, triathlon and simply steady social running, there is the widest choice of activity in any sport. One day England Athletics courses in timekeeping, starting, as well as track and field events, will be held in Winchester on November 4 and November 11.

“It is about giving something back and being part of what is a fabulous club,” said club official Paul Weeks.

If you have an interest in athletics and would like to help out as a coach or an official, contact Winchester Athletics development officer Kathryn Miles at

There is currently a shortage in both which limits how many athletes can be coached.