Q&A with Runderbolts founder Ruden Bhutia
20 October 2020
Ruden Bhutia is 29 years old. He is the founder of Runderbolts and is on a mission to bring diversity and excitement to running. He helps people through their first 10K in a fun and engaging way to improve their mental and physical wellbeing.
Why did you start your running club, Runderbolts?
I wanted to bring diverse communities together and find a unique way to change the perception that you have to be particularly fast or fit to run. I regularly hear people say “I’m not fit enough” or “I am not a runner”. We don’t consider ourselves as just runners, we use running as a tool to bring people together and improve our mental and physical wellbeing.
We don’t focus on time and we certainly don’t pressure anyone to attend every run, people can come and go as and when they crave that boost of Runderbolt energy! We target people from diverse backgrounds who “could never run a 10K”. We are a family, not a club. We are not just runners, we are Runderbolts.
How do you make running more fun?
In our 10K challenge events we create a treasure hunt-style route, where runners have work out clues along the way and pick up bonus points. The winners are the team with the most points, not the team that finishes first. In many cases the team that finishes first actually ends up with the wooden spoon! We focus on the journey, not the destination.
Do you ever do overseas events?
We organise international charity projects with the aim of using running to contribute to a better world and inspire people to achieve something bigger than themselves. In 2017 we ran 10K in 10 countries in ten days, 100K across Europe. It was a simple idea that ended up contributing to the aid for the Nepal earthquake victims and improving the livelihood of Tibetan refugees.
We have many more international projects in the pipeline, such as sending sports footwear/clothing to Mombasa, Kenya, donated through our Runderbolt FC team. We’re also planning a project to set up a free eyecare camp for villagers in Nepal while offering a Runderbolt challenge and trekking in the Himalayas for our volunteers. We also aim to double our 100K Europe challenge, by running 200K across 20 US states.
Why did you start running?
I first started to get fit for football. Then my first 10K was the Bluewater 10K. I had no idea how far it was or how I should pace myself – I just wanted to beat one guy from my office, which I did!
I have organised events and workshops for BAME youth in my area – everything from football tournaments to music and dance concerts and cooking. I started running 10Ks and half marathons such as Vitality North London Half and the Paris Half. Then I ran from Westfield Stratford to Westfield White City to raise money for the Nepal earthquake fund. This motivated me to run the Virgin Money London Marathon. I got a charity place and raised money for Global Action Nepal.
What motivates you to run and encourage others to get involved?
The freedom to explore new places and find beauty in places closer to home. Running trains my mind to be resilient. It helps me put things into perspective and helps me focus on the present moment. It is accessible to all. It reduces stress and anxiety, which is at an all-time high in recent times. I have seen the benefits of running for myself and in my community and really want to spread this message across the world.
How has your running club been affected by Covid-19 and social-distancing rules?
We have had to adapt to try to remain active. During lockdown our Runderbolts have been setting monthly challenges and following the leaderboard on the Strava running app. We have Whatsapp groups for each area and one group with all our members to keep in touch.
In the early stages of lockdown, when the rules were strict, we set a challenge for our members to run either in their garden or inside the home. One of us ran a half marathon around the kitchen table and another ran one around the garden table. Now we’ve been encouraging our members to run in small groups in their local areas in safe, quiet settings – following the rules regarding exercise depending on which tier they’re in.
Celebrate You is all about running for your head and your heart. How has running helped improve the mental health of your club members?
It makes me happy knowing that my Runderbolts are feeling the benefits of running. I like to see the satisfaction on their faces once they’ve finished their first 10K, or when I receive a message the next day saying they’ve woken up feeling amazing and asking when the next run is! I’ve seen so many friendships and collaborations form over the past few years through running.
Of course we also have members who run with us to get fit for football, rugby or for cardio as a part of their gym routine. These physical benefits contribute to a healthy heart and lungs and reduce the chances of obesity and disease.
What would be your one piece of advice for a first-time runner or someone considering taking up running?
Define what running is to you. Run however you feel is best for you, whether it is alone or part of a crew, or a slow or short distance. Focus on exploring the area, enjoying your surroundings and feeling the freedom. It’s a great way to deal with stress and clear your mind, a very positive and refreshing feeling of achievement.
If you want to run in a group, try a running crew, they are usually very supportive. You’ll realise the majority of the conversations are not even running-related and you totally forget you’re running!
Don’t be scared to be the first one to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Be the difference. Widen your network and mix with other cultures. Don’t be intimidated by the distance, run at your own pace with your own rules. You will not regret the feeling of completing your first event.
You’re running the first-ever virtual Vitality London 10,000 this month – why should other people sign up and join you?
This is a unique opportunity to be involved in a mass participation event in a new and exciting virtual format. You have the freedom to pick your own route and pace, while still feeling a part of the overall Vitality London 10,000 event. This really is a chance for you to #Celebrateyou and show the world how you get moving.
How can people get involved with Runderbolts?
If anyone would like to join us to either to run, collaborate or just come check out what we are all about, you can get in touch via our Instagram page @runderbolts