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9th October 2019

Run Wild member awarded Young Volunteer in the North West

Mancunion contributor, Kate MacLachlan, speaks to Run Wild member, Wilbur Chen, who recently won the Young Volunteer Award North West for his work with the society
Run Wild member awarded Young Volunteer in the North West
Photo: James Bannister

Wilbur Chen, a recent Manchester Materials Science and Engineering graduate, has received an award from England Athletics for his contribution to Run Wild Society.

He was awarded Young Volunteer in the North West at a ceremony in Wigan on the 30th September and may become a finalist for the National Volunteer Awards taking place on the 12th October.

The awards ceremony consisted of a meal and an opportunity to meet other award-winning volunteers. Former Olympic competitor, Helen Clitheroe, was also present at the event.

I spoke to Wilbur about achieving the award and his volunteering experience.

When asked why he believes he won, Wilbur responded: “One of the reasons obviously is I’m there nearly every week. I was here running with the society for three and a half years, so I [could] see the transition and I also helped along throughout the progress.”

Wilbur also volunteered with various other sporting events, including the Taekwondo world championships and BUCS track cycling at the Etihad.

He explained how being nominated for the award by Run Wild caught him by surprise.

“One day [the society committee] started messaging me, asking about my volunteering experience in a lot of detail, and I thought they might just be writing an article like this. But then they start asking a bit more… I was like “Hmm”… and later on I received an email saying, “you got nominated and we’ll let you know the results soon.”

When asked how he felt about receiving the award, Wilbur stated that he felt “honoured”, and that it was “really special” for Run Wild to nominate him when the run leaders are all putting in “equal effort.”

“What I’m doing isn’t for any recognition – it’s because I love the sport. I might not be competing for my nation or competing for my uni, but just being surrounded in that vibe … it makes me really happy, just being around that.”

Wilbur originally became involved in running at primary school. “Our school focused greatly on physical activities, so compared to other local schools our school had additional PE classes, additional swimming classes. I joined a cross country after-school running club, so I started doing five to ten kilometre distances since then”.

He then got involved with Run Wild at university as a volunteer. “In my second semester of first year, I got in touch with Sports Volunteering Scheme,” Wilbur recalled, explaining how they recommended he volunteer with Run Wild due to his specialisation in the sport.

He initially put on an additional session with Run Wild, “to encourage Purple Wave training… But since then, I just mainly stuck with Run Wild, doing weekly sessions.” During these weekly sessions, Wilbur’s job was to lead the route for the group. He was also treasurer of the club in his second year.

Now a graduate, Wilbur would like to continue with the sport by doing long distance triathlons. He currently partakes in Olympic distance triathlons but would like to complete a Half Ironman: “And, of course, in the far distance, the full Ironman. But that’s more of a five-year goal, maybe”.

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