A WOMAN from Wallingford has started a female-only running group after the murder of Ashling Murphy prompted safety concerns for women running alone.

Nina Sarpong, of Wood Street, was “heartbroken” after the murder of the 23-year-old Irish teacher in January this year.

Murphy was attacked and killed while jogging along the Grand Canal just outside Tullamore, County Offaly.

Ms Sarpong, who runs the sports shop Runwize in St Mary’s Street, decided to start the group about eight weeks ago to help other women feel safer.

She said: “I was wanting to do my own class for a while and what pushed me was when Ashling Murphy was murdered.

“I was heartbroken, it really made me more aware. Wallingford is safe but where Ashling was running was safe as well so I’ve been more mindful and thought there are probably other ladies who now feel unsafe on runs.

“It pushed me to pull my finger out, I thought the group would be a nice legacy for Ashling. People are getting together and supporting each other in her memory.”

Oxford Mail: Nina Sarpong (in pink) outside her store in Wallingford. Photo credit: Ed NixNina Sarpong (in pink) outside her store in Wallingford. Photo credit: Ed Nix

The 50-year-old, who has been running for about a decade, leads the group on Tuesday evenings at 7pm with a friend.

They meet at her store, which used to be Sportwize until she took it over in November 2020 from the previous owner, and the group run a 5km route.

Ms Sarpong said: “People join because a lot of them feel unsafe about running alone and a lot of them also didn’t know the area. They wanted someone to plan safe routes.

“We all have lights and we’re all together and people love that. I run at the front of the group and my friend runs at the back and we loop back so we can speak to everyone and no one is the slowest and no one is left behind.

“Everyone can find their own pace and I try to do different routes every week. It’s supposed to be a social thing as well and someone suggested we can even run to the pub.”

Ms Sarpong also leads running classes with a group called “Run Wallingford” which she joined about seven years ago. The group encouraged her to take her leadership course in running and fitness.

After starting to run at the age of 41, Ms Sarpong has taken part in the Wallingford 10km, the Henley half marathon, the Reading half marathon and more.

To take part in the group, or for more information, contact Ms Sarpong on her Facebook page called “Runwize”.

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