A Sheffield student has been overwhelmed with responses after starting a women’s running club aimed at tackling loneliness and encouraging fitness.

Libby Holmes, 26, a PhD student in biophysics at the University of Sheffield, began Run For Fun Sheffield earlier this month and 25 women attended their first run.

Miss Holmes said: “It’s been phenomenal, I put out a story on my Instagram and I was like ‘oh my god’, I thought there would be only like six people, but we now have 250 people in our whatsapp group.”

After moving to Sheffield from Wolverhampton, Miss Holmes found it difficult to make friends, an experience shared by other women.

Miss Holmes said there are now 250 women in the club’s WhatsApp group. Credit: Libby Holmes

She said: “I moved here and didn’t know anyone except my boyfriend so I was looking to get my own friends. I have been running for about a year and a half mainly on my own and I saw a lot of run clubs up and down the country and thought it would be really cool to be involved in them. 

“A lot of them focus on pace and can be quite intimidating and I wanted to create a community of slower runners and get outside and start running and meet like-minded people because it’s quite difficult to meet people in your 20s.

As well as helping to keep fit and make new friends, Miss Holmes said running has benefits for people’s mental health, and for women in particular running as a group can make them feel safer.

Miss Holmes, who is running the Leeds half-marathon next month, said: “I am not alone in saying that a lot of people suffer with mental health issues and I started running about a year and a half ago and it makes me feel really good and I feel so much healthier now. For PhD’s you can be inside quite a lot, so I can run off some steam, When it’s cold and dark and disgusting outside the run club comes in handy to get me out the house.

The next run will take place on 28 April. Credit: Libby Holmes

“When it gets really dark a lot of women don’t want to run in the dark and I wanted to make it a super safe and secure environment for people.”

While the women involved so far are largely fellow students, Miss Holmes said women of all ages are welcome and hopes more will join in the future and get the running bug. After their run the women grab a coffee to chat and make friends.

For anyone interested in joining you can check out their Instagram page @runforfunsheffield.