In the 1980s, with events like the London Marathon growing in popularity, many ordinary people donned their trainers and took to the streets, running often for the first time since leaving school. It was therefore no surprise that a group of active squash players from Tiptree Squash Club decided to join this popular movement and casually began to run the streets of Tiptree, entering local fun-runs in order to achieve a new level of fitness.
As interest began to grow quite rapidly, it was decided to hold a meeting at Tiptree Sports Centre to assess how to develop the group. As a result of this meeting, Tiptree Road Runners (TRR) was established in October 1984. The club name was proposed by Chris Davis.
Strip and logo
It was Derek Rochester who suggested an all-red kit, of which the red vests have carried through to today. This, of course, was inspired by Tiptree’s fame for its strawberry jam! The cartoon figure of the Road Runner, or ‘the chicken’ as we often light-heartedly call it, came after hours of searching through video stills and comic books. Barry Dobson came up with some sketches, which Mavis Studholme re-designed and drew up the artwork, being careful not to infringe any copyright. In 2017, the committee took the decision to modernise the club logo and the new ‘TRR Road’ logo was born.
Tiptree road races
Having joined the AAA, and later gaining BARR status for our race, TRR wasted no time in organising their first road race in September 1985. The Tiptree Half-Marathon and Fun Run were sponsored by Wilkin & Sons Ltd, the local jam factory, who were celebrating their centenary in the same year. Involving as many local organisations as we could, the event was an outstanding success, raising £333.05, which we were able to donate to charity.
In 1987 we moved to a 10-mile race and although today we have a new course and venue, it has become a very popular distance race. On occasion this race has incorproated the Essex County and Eastern Counties Championships. Numbers have steadily increased as has the money we are able to raise for local groups and charities. One of our main beneficiaries has been the Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulance for whom we have raised in excess of £10,000.
Today the Tiptree 10 stands out as one of the most popular races in the county. Twice, in recent years, we have been chosen as the County 10-mile championship. It has won the ‘Best road-race in Essex’ trophy twice and finished runner-up on two other occasions. Each October, around 500 runners enter which with the aid of our sponsors, generates money in aid of local causes and charities.
In recent years club member James Haskey-Jones, with support from a number of colleagues, has successfully organised and managed a 5k series held in Maldon over the summer. These are popular events, run using a ‘handicap’ system (runners starting at different times in the hope that everyone finishes at about the same time), and are attracting increasing numbers of runners with a range of abilities every year.
By the first AGM in October 1985, club membership had swollen to a very healthy 60 members, meeting at Tiptree Sports Centre on a Tuesday evening for road running. Initial membership subs were a massive £2.00 a year with additional 20p nightly subs. As the club evolved, more people were elected to the committee, with the posts of Press Officer, News Editor, Race Secretary, Social Secretary and committee members without portfolio all there to take TRR forward.
Over the years, membership has fluctuated and in 2016, it reached its highest ever level – in excess of 80 members – with, for the first time in the club’s history, more female than male runners.
With the formation of the Today’s Runner Cross-Country League in 1987, with six off-road races, TRR were out in force. The ladies stamped their mark on the event thanks to Tiptree’s own Sharon Wakefield and Sue Baker taking first and second place in the first ever ladies race in this league. After winning our league outright in the 1998-99 season, TRR went on to the National Finals at Nottingham and returned to the final on other occasions over the years. With thanks to landowner Wilkins, the TRR cross-country event was voted the best course of the series, a venue we used from 1987-1998 before moving to Layer-de-la-Haye in 1999. Currently, the club competes in the 53-12 Cross-Country League and Essex championship races, although we no longer have access to a course where we can host a league race.
The club’s annual presentation dinner takes place on the second Friday in November. The evening celebrates the club and our runners’ successes over the previous 12 months. There are a number of awards which are detailed on a separate factsheet – Tiptree Awards.
We continue to grow in membership and in 2015 we increased our training nights to two per week (Tuesday and Thursdays). Running as a sport continues to grow nationwide and locally thanks to events like the 5k Parkruns every Saturday morning. To show our support of these fantastic events, we support the Maldon and Mersea Parkruns on certain occasions, by providing a full team of marshals, time-keepers and pace-makers.