Some members are there for competition; others for the pure joy of running and achieving their own personal goals.
Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings at Salt Ayre see several groups of runners of all ranges of ability out training on the surrounding roads, cycleways, and around the playing fields of the sports centre. Whatever your standard, there will be a group you can join in with.
Teams are also arranged to represent the club in events such as the North of England and Lancashire Road Relays in September each year. The club always tries to get as many people involved as possible, and will enter "B" teams to give all standards of athlete a taste of competition.
As with many similar clubs, the London Marathon and Great North Run are highlights of the running calendar and the club is always well represented.
Within easy reach of Lancaster and Morecambe there are many excellent local road races throughout the year organised by other running clubs or local organisations. There are over 40 events a year within a 30 mile radius, giving opportunities to compete or run for fun throughout the year. Most are run over the popular 10k distance but there are several longer events of half marathon distance or more
Places to run.....
The seafront promenade is the obvious place to run in a seaside town, and Morecambe is no exception. Morecambe's promenade offers a continuous stretch of more than 4 miles of flat, traffic free, running, extending from Heysham village at one end, through the centre of Morecambe, to end by the golf course at Bare. Training runs can be extended at Heysham to take in Heysham Head, a National Trust property with the remains of an ancient cliff-top chapel (St Patrick's Chapel), rock hewn graves, and superb elevated views across Morecambe Bay towards the Lakeland Fells.
The view across Morecambe Bay can be enjoyed along the whole length of the prom, and there are plenty of other points of interest. The promenade has been completely rebuilt in the centre of Morecambe, and is now being populated with items of public art to celebrate and interpret the wildlife and natural setting of the Bay. Most recent of these is a statue of Eric Morecambe, bathed in blue light at nightime. If the weather suits, it is worth taking a detour to the end of the Stone Jetty (behind the Midland Hotel). At the very end of the jetty is a fishing platform, and on a clear day you get the sensation of being right in the centre of Morecambe Bay, with stunning views towards the fells.
The only real drawback to the prom is the weather. If it's wet and windy, and you're going in the wrong direction, it offers an experience that can best be described as character building!
LANCASTER TO MORECAMBE CYCLEWAY
The disused railway leading from Lancaster to Morecambe was converted to a cyleway and footpath many years ago, and has been upgraded with tarmac surfacing and street lights. It passes right next to the Athletic Club's base at Salt Ayre, and forms part of an expanding network of traffic free cycleways extending in three directions: out to Morecambe to the west, and eastwards through Lancaster to Glasson Dock, or up the Lune Valley towards Halton and Caton.
The cyleways are designed for dual use by pedestrians and cyclists, and are perfect for running. The network has being completed with the construction of a spectacular new Millennium Bridge across the River Lune at St George's Quay in Lancaster.
Another recent addition to the network is a short link from Salt Ayre (starting just upstream of the sports centre), running along the riverside and out to join quiet country roads near to Snatchems, leading out to Middleton and Overton.
The main attraction of the section leading from Salt Ayre to Morecambe is the fact that it links in with Morecambe Promenade (see above) in the centre of the town. The end of the cycleway is not particularly obvious if you've not used it before - it can be found just by the roundabout at the entrance to the Morrisons foodstore.
LANCASTER TO CATON CYCLEWAY
Starting from the new Millennium Bridge at St George's Quay and passing along the riverside by Sainsburys, the cycleway follows the route of the old Leeds/Morecambe railway along the south bank of the River Lune. It has been surfaced and lit as part of Lancaster's River Lune Millennium Park project.
This section of the cycleway offers superb scenery with many points of interest. These include majestic stone bridges across the river at Skerton Bridge and the Lancaster Canal Aqueduct; a dramatic white water section of the river just above Halton; and the well known beauty spot and picnic area at Crook O'Lune.
The section from Lancaster to Caton is approximately 6 miles long, and has plenty of opportunities to create circular routes of varying distances. In particular it can be linked with a series of public footpaths and roads running along the north bank of the river, with crossing points at either Skerton Bridge, the Aqueduct, Halton Bridge, or Crook O'Lune. Some sections of the north bank footpath are rough and boggy, so off-road shoes might be advisable.
The cycleway continues for a short distance beyond Caton, ending at Bull Beck picnic area on the main road (A683).
LANCASTER TO GLASSON DOCK COASTAL PATH
The third branch of the network of cycleways radiating out from Lancaster runs south to Glasson Dock, once again following the course of a disused railway. This one is very different in character, however. Only a short section is tarmac surfaced - the rest is a softer gravel surface which is easier on the legs and ideal for long steady runs. It leads through the flat, wild and marshy landscape of the river estuary and has a much more natural character than the other routes.
The start of the path is at the end of New Quay Road (follow the road alongside the river from St George's Quay and keep on to the end past the Forbo factory). It leads out to connect with quiet country roads at Aldcliffe, and Stodday, before reaching a picnic area at Conder Green and then the picturesque small port and marina at Glasson Dock. The distance from Lancaster to Glasson is about 6 miles, and there are plenty of opportunities to link with sections of the Lancaster Canal to create short or long circular runs.
The Lancaster Canal runs north/south through the city and surrounding countryside, and provides yet another option for safe, traffic free running through superb countryside.
Throughout the built-up area of Lancaster (and also through to Carnforth) the canal towpath has been surfaced with asphalt and is suitable for cycling. South of Lancaster it runs through a long wooded cutting and can get muddy in places.
A short (2 mile) branch of the canal runs across from Galgate to Glasson Dock and can form the basis for some excellent circular routes linking with the coastal path (see above)
The grounds of Lancaster University are a popular venue for Mid Lancs Cross Country meetings and the Lancashire County Championships. There are several paths running round the perimeter of the campus which are ideal for off road training.
The University has a "visitors welcome" policy, and you can change and shower at the Sports Centre on payment of a small fee. Further information is available from the University website
The one landmark which everyone knows in Lancaster is the Ashton Memorial, set on the hilltop above the City and visible as you pass by on the M6 motorway.
It's set in the middle of a spectacular urban park (created in Victorian times from a series of quarries which provided stone for many of Lancaster's historic buildings).
For many years the park has been a popular destination for runners, with the surrounding roads ideal for building strength through hill work.
The park has recently been extended, and a new woodland path has been created just behind the Ashton Memorial. It provides a circular loop of around one mile of smooth gravel path, with some enjoyable twists and climbs. If you haven't discovered it yet, try it!