A RUNNING club that has welcomed hundreds of new members since its creation is inviting newcomers to shape up for the new year free of charge.

Swindon Shin Splints starts its new 10-week course for beginners tomorrow.

Many runners who have joined the group, which was set up three years ago by Swindon Council, have gone on to train for either the 13.1-mile Swindon Half Marathon, the five-mile multi-terrain or the two-mile fun run.

More than 500 people have registered with the free club since its inception and an average of 90 people regularly take part in the running sessions at Coate Water every Saturday at 8.45am. The group also attracts in excess of 60 people every Wednesday evening for its training run.

Ten mentors, including award-winning coach Steve Goulding, are always on hand to give out hints and tips on how to prepare for the three races at the annual Half Marathon event.

The Shin Splints operates four sub groups, including a rolling beginners’ group, so people can join at any time throughout the year, although it is recommended that to get the best results runners should join at the start of a new course.

Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for leisure and corporate services, said: “The Shin Splints have helped hundreds of runners of all abilities over the last few years and the group is a great way of meeting new friends while at the same time improving your fitness levels.

“The 10-week beginners’ course is a gentle, fun introduction to running with the aim of building up training so that those taking part can complete three miles by the end of the course.”

The Shin Splints meet at The Sun Inn on Saturdays at 8.45am. For details, call Cathy on 07977 915606 or visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/shinsplints