A NEW running group has got its first set of new-starters up to completing 5k.

Local top athletes Paul Freary and Darren Grimshaw began the group to help get people who had never run before up to doing three a bit miles.

They hatched the idea using just word of mouth and a Facebook page to see if there would be any interest.

And they have been astounded by how popular their first group has been with up to 48 people joining in the sessions at Leverhulme Park.

With the first group now successfully completed, the duo are moving straight into the second and are inviting anyone who wants to take part to join them at the car park at Leverhulme on Monday night at 6.30pm.

Bolton international athlete and sub-four-minute miler Freary said: "It's all free of charge and people don't have to commit.

"They can come along and give it a try then pull out if they want. It's just something we're doing to help people go from couch to 5k.

"We call the group BL5K and it's for absolutely anyone to give running a try.

"Some don't want to run because they might feel self-conscious so this is a chance for them to get started.

"The aim of the group is to get anyone of any ability to be able to take part in their first 5k run.

"Each group will run for two months, every Monday night at 6.30pm.

"At the end of the two months the group will take part in a 5k run together."

The group is supported by the Sports Reunited Project at Bolton Council.

"We started at the beginning of May using Facebook to spread the word and this pilot group have just completed their first 5k," added Freary, who has owned specialist running shop Foot Traffic in Astley Bridge for 13 years.

"We have had up to 48 people attend, even on Bank Holiday Monday – a real show of their commitment and also very encouraging to us.

"The group is totally free of charge and people can come along and join in whenever they like.

"We meet in the car park at Leverhulme Park, next to the track.

"Each week the group will progress by gradually increasing the distance we run, but we aim to cater for everyone, no one gets left behind and we take regular breathers to break the run up.

Grimshaw is a former county standard junior athlete and a Masters World Half Marathon champion.

“Myself and Darren have been friends since meeting at Bolton Harriers over 25years ago," said Freary.

"Darren was aiming to get running again after a long spell and as I know from speaking to lots of people in my shop, the question is where to start?”

“We aim to make running not intimidating and easily do-able for everyone. Running with other new people makes it fun and so much easier.