CORSTORPHINE Athletics Club has become the first in Edinburgh to offer frame running sessions for physically disabled and impaired competitors.
Coaches Graeme Reid, Francesca Snitjer and George Key have been delivering tailored training using special three-wheeled equipment to assist athletes.
Finlay Menzies, 17, and Ian Duncan, 12, have enjoyed initial weekly sessions at Royal High School on Friday afternoons as part of Corstorphine AAC’s joint venture with Active Schools Edinburgh.
The club now hopes to add a second offering on Tuesday evenings during the spring and summer track season at its base at the capital’s Saughton Sports Complex.
Youngsters from P5-S6 will also be able to try frame running for free at the 11th East of Scotland Parasport Festival on Friday, March 24 at the Forrester/St Augustine’s High campus.
Frame running is a form of adaptive running which sees athletes’ bodies supported by the ‘trike’, allowing them to experience the sensation of free movement – often for the first time.
It is primarily for people with co-ordination issues associated with cerebral palsy and related impairments.
Corstorphine AAC captain Graeme Reid hailed the sessions and said each coach gains “huge satisfaction” in helping the athletes advance.
He said: “I think it’s a great thing for the club. We advertise that we’re inclusive and now we’re demonstrating that commitment. Hopefully this can be the start of a successful period for frame running in Edinburgh.
“Now that we have the first few sessions under our belt and a better understanding of how they will work, we hope to gradually expand the numbers. We are exploring various avenues of funding and sponsorship as we’re going to need to purchase at least one frame and a whole load of other equipment.”
Fellow coach Francesca Snitjer said: “Working with athletes with cerebral palsy gives you a much deeper appreciation of how sport can really make a huge difference and impact to the lives of others.
“I have never met two more positive boys – Finlay and Ian are an absolute joy to coach. They take everything in their stride and are always keen to try new things and push themselves.”
The equipment features a saddle, body support but no pedals, with athletes propelling themselves against the frame with their feet and steering with their hands or arms.
Training is treated as a standard athletics session with a warm-up, two to three units of running, jumping or throwing, followed by a cool-down.
There are currently 13 frame running sessions across Scotland – but Edinburgh athletes previously faced a journey to Meadowmill Sports Centre in Tranent to take part.
Ian, who has diplegic cerebral palsy affecting his balance and walking, had been training at the East Lothian site for three years before the Corstorphine AAC sessions launched in January.
He represented Scotland at the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association International Cup in Denmark last year and hopes to one day compete in the Paralympics.
He said: “Fran and Graeme are so encouraging and happy to adapt any parts of the sessions to suit my abilities.”
His mum Sheena Boss, of Prestonfield, Edinburgh, said: “As soon as Ian got on the bike he smiled. It took away all of his barriers. The sport has helped him form friendships with others similar to himself. He loves training with Finlay as he is an older role model.”
Finlay, from the capital’s Balerno, has been using the equipment for six years alongside ambulant athletes, but mum Gill said training with a fellow frame runner gives him an added boost.
She said: “He is finding the sessions mentally challenging as well as physically stretching. Sometimes there are fast footwork challenges, reversing, hill climbs and interval-style sessions, rather than just straight running. They have alsodone a kind of long jump with one-legged pushes.
“The bond between the boys and coaches is strong after just a few short weeks. It would be lovely to see the club grow.”
Scottish Athletics, Scottish Disability Sport, Queen Margaret University and a group of parents worked together with Corstorphine AAC to get the sessions up and running.
Pamela Robson, national disability pathway officer at Scottish Athletics, said: “Corstorphine have shown how a mainstream club can grow and adapt to cater for a specific group of athletes. I know the club and coaches have been committed to this for some time and have been so thorough in ensuring they get it right.
“There are so many individuals that could benefit from being involved in the sport but they need the opportunity to do so. Corstorphine providing this opportunity is a big step forward for the area.”
Louise Gillespie, East of Scotland development manager for Scottish Disability Sport, said: “It has taken a while to find the right setting for a new session, so it’s great to see Corstorphine embrace frame running. This can only strengthen the sport and opportunities for young people to participate across Edinburgh.
“I hope that the session will grow in numbers over the next few months and that this will be a success story that can be replicated in other athletics clubs.”
To find out more about frame running at Corstorphine AAC, contact club secretary Chris Peggie on email@example.com.
For more details on the East of Scotland Parasport Festival, visit scottishdisabilitysport.com/events-parasport/