AT the beginning of the year, Harwich Runners announced they would be putting on an NHS Couch to 5K training plan.

Expecting between 15 and 20 people to maybe be interested, they were pleasantly surprised when 108 people turned up to the first session.

Couch to 5K is a training plan for absolute beginners, developed to get people off the couch and start running.

The plan involves three runs a week, with a day of rest in between, and a different schedule for each week.

The programme begins with a brisk five-minute walk, then alternates one minute of running and one-and-a-half minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.

The aim to build up to be able to cover the full 5k distance.

Supported by members of Harwich Runners, those taking part finished the training on Saturday at the local Parkrun, most running the whole distance quicker than they would have dreamed possible three months ago.

Alongside all the first-timers were the usual weekly Parkrunners.

Harwich Runners occupied all of the first four finish positions.

They were Josh Newlyn, in 18 minutes and 19 seconds, Graeme Knott and Stephen Peck, both in 18m 39s, and Simon Day, fourth in 19m 24s.

Club ladies had three members in the first four female finishers - Madeline Lewis, 21m 16s, Karen Stapleton, 22m 44s, and Daisy Ward, 23m 12s.

Four club members set new personal bests (PBs) - Jules Lawrence, 21m 42s, Tiffany Tynan, 28m 38s, Francine Battram, 29m 44s, and Sam Sands, 32m 11s.

Club coach Steve Cooper has had some good results at Parkruns away from Harwich.

Two weeks ago he was first finisher at Kesgrave, in 17m 16s.

Last week he was second at Bury St Edmunds, in 17m 40s, and on Saturday he was at the Felixstowe event, where he was second again in 17m 47s.

On Sunday, it was the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon.

Since its launch in 2012, it has become one of the largest marathons in Europe and the second biggest in the UK.

This year, 13,661 runners finished the 26.2-mile challenge.

This number included two members of Harwich Runners.

For Jez Downs it was his first attempt at the distance and he finished in a respectable 4h 28m 43s.

Last year Valentina Burley ran the Paris Marathon in 4h 26m.

On Sunday she improved her time by almost 13 minutes to set a new PB of 4h 13m 34s.

This Sunday will see the fourth running of the Harwich Runners Bromley 10k.

The course has good PB potential, being mainly flat.

This has meant it has attracted over 600 runners to enter, including 84 members of the club.