Developing a fledgling running group during pandemic lockdown conditions might sound like an impossible task.

But Run Scarborough was set up while the country was in the grip of the Covid-19 emergency and went on to attract increasing numbers of members even when their activities had to be conducted on a ‘virtual’ basis.

It means the group, which is run on an entirely voluntary basis, has not only helped hundreds of people to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing, but has also managed to raise thousands of pounds to support two vital charities in the area.

Run Scarborough was launched by Paul Sutherns, who wanted to encourage those with an interest in running to take up the offer of companionship and support to improve their ability.

That was between lockdowns, and when runners were prevented from exercising together he set up virtual challenges to allow the group to work together towards targets despite being physically isolated from each other.

Those challenges proved surprisingly popular and attracted increasing numbers of members, with many going on to conventional group runs as conditions have allowed.

That included a relay-run, in pairs, when restrictions meant exercise could be taken with only one companion, which raised more than £2,000 for St Catherine’s Hospice.

Another run has raised well over £4,000 for Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team.

Paul said: “We are not competitive, our support is the same for everyone and we cheer on people’s personal accomplishments.

“We try to stay away from anything speed-related.”

The formula clearly worked, with numbers growing from around 100 at Christmas to 300 by April.

“There is no charge to run in our group runs and we now have trail runs for people who want to go off the road.

“We have people who started walking and are now running; we wanted to make running fun and accessible,” he said.