JAFFA are set for 30th anniversary

FROM small beginnings, Ipswich JAFFA has mushroomed into one of the biggest and most successful running clubs in the region.JAFFA will be celebrating its 30th anniversary with a reunion of members old and new at Henley Community Centre tomorrow.

By Carl Marston

FROM small beginnings, Ipswich JAFFA has mushroomed into one of the biggest and most successful running clubs in the region.

JAFFA will be celebrating its 30th anniversary with a reunion of members old and new at Henley Community Centre tomorrow.

And it's quite apt that in the week leading up to this big event, the Ipswich club has enjoyed some remarkable success at road running events around the Eastern region.

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While Robert Chenery was winning the Martlesham Heath 10K last Sunday, fellow JAFFA runners Jennie Roberts, Jayne Williams and Val Jennings were posting a 1-2-3 at the Great Yarmouth Half-Marathon in Norfolk.

Over in Essex, club stalwart David Laing was third overall and first veteran at the Tiptree 10-miler, with team-mate Gavin Davies in fifth.

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And on the same morning, star runner Helen Decker was re-writing the club's record books with a scorching half-marathon time of 1hr 18mins 36secs at the Great Eastern Run in Peterborough.

These success stories reflect the strength in depth, and talent, that JAFFA has boasted over the last 30 years, in addition to the promotion

of running for everyone, of any


It was Terry Gould, a qualified coach, who laid the foundations for JAFFA, an acronym of “Jogging and Fitness For All.”

He had initially fronted a course for joggers in the town, prompted by the Ipswich Borough Council, during the summer of 1977 at Chantry Park.

Once this course had finished,

several budding joggers expressed an interest in carrying on with their running, and Gould suggested that they should form a club.

This was achieved at a meeting on September 26, 1977, at a local pub. Ipswich JAFFA was the agreed name, and Gould was appointed the chairman.

Subscriptions were set at £2 per annum and 20 pence per week, and by March, 1978, the club could already boast 116 members.

To begin with, the club trained at Chantry Park in the summer and was based at Chantry High School during the winter months.

David Smith, whose name was to become synonymous with JAFFA, became linked with the club for the first time in the summer of 1978. He is now the club's president.

JAFFA was born out of the marathon boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was the first of the so-called “new-wave” clubs to emerge in Suffolk, and was followed over the next few years by the likes of Bildeston Bounders, Saint Edmund Pacers and Stowmarket Striders.

The inaugural London Marathon of 1981 was responsible for this later upsurge in running clubs, as opposed to the more established track and field clubs like Ipswich Harriers and West Suffolk AC.

August, 1981, was an important date for JAFFA because it marked the club's move to a new base, at the newly-opened Northgate Sports Centre. The club has not looked

back since.

The 10th anniversary celebrations of 1987 included the first staging of the JAFFA 10-mile race, which survived until two years ago.

This is just one of many events the club has been involved in over the years.

They supported the old Ipswich Marathon and Half-Marathon (in its inaugural year of 1983, it involved two crossings of Orwell Bridge), and have held the Ekiden Relay since 1992 - the event moved to Orwell Park School this year.

In more recent times, the club has staged one of the races in the

popular Friday Five Series, at St Joseph's College, and hosts its annual cross country league fixture at Landseer Park.

On a competitive note, while individuals like Carol Gould (an international) and Tom McKeith (holder of several club records) were the stars of the 1980s, it was strength in depth that was the mainstay of the club.

That was highlighted by victory at the inaugural Today's Runner Cross Country League national final in 1990. They went on to retain their regional (North-Essex) and national titles for the next four years.

The event is still going strong, under the sponsorship of 53-12 Multisports.

No men's club record has been broken since 1998, which is testimony to the strength of running in the preceding era, although Decker and Roberts are intent on completely re-writing the female open records.

In fact, they have set no fewer than five new club landmarks between them this year.

Thirty years on, therefore, and Ipswich JAFFA remains at the forefront of running in the county.

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