The popularity and success of a Borders running group is firmly on course after its founder and leader won a national award.
Arlene Botha, of the Galavanters group, in Galashiels, was named Leader of the Year this month at the Jogscotland Awards ceremony in Glasgow.
She was short-listed after being nominated by members of the Borders jogscotland group – which celebrated its third birthday the day after the ceremony.
Arlene (38) said she was thrilled to be put forward but never expected to win, which was especially pleasing.
The Galavanters – who were equally delighted with her win – told the judges: “Arlene leads five sessions a week for her group members and is described as ‘a Mrs Motivator, a very good friend as well as a leader’.
“This year she has achieved all this while training for an ultramarathon herself. Her sunny personality, both highly organised and caring, is an inspiration to all her members, who range in age from 16 to 72.
“Galashiels is now flooded with blue jogscotland T-shirts, with 60+ joggers turning up every week – all of whom Arlene knows by name. She puts huge amounts of energy into every session, organises social gatherings after every race, and makes people of all ages feel good about themselves, helping them set and achieve their own running goals.”
The non-competitive, friendly and inclusive nature of jogging with others for health, fitness and fun was a big part of the group’s success, said Arlene, of Galashiels.
“It’s for everybody,” she added. “I tell everyone to come along and have a shot – it doesn’t matter what your speed is, or anything like that. I just say to people to come along and do what they can.
“Jogging is for everybody. No one is too slow and nobody gets left behind.”
Mother to 10-year-old daughter Scout, Arlene is the shop manager at Rogerson’s Footwear in Galashiels by day.
The Galavanters also got behind her as she recently completed the first ever Rat Race Ultra Tour of Edinburgh, a 34-mile ultramarathon with a 3600-ft ascent. Arlene finished in 6hrs 48 mins – “a long time to be on your feet”.
The Galavanters also stage regular 10-week beginners’ blocks to promote the sport locally and Arlene said: “I absolutely love it.
“It’s amazing to share my passion for running with so many people.”
The Galvanters narrowly missed out on another award on the night – member Ray Cunningham, who ran his first marathon at the age of 70, was one of the nominees for Achiever of the Year.