Blazing a trail, Tavy Links

A man with a passion for off-road running and a strong sense of community spirit, Colin Kirk-Potter manages to combine the two as the director of Run Venture running hub.

As a keen runner, walker and climber, Colin has an in-depth knowledge of Dartmoor and, since becoming qualified as a Mountain Leader, he has the essential skills to lead walks in the hills and mountains of the UK and Ireland.

He has competed nationally in many of the top fell races, including the self-navigating UK Mountain Trail in the Lake District, two Bob Graham rounds, the 105-mile Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in Europe and several Mountain Marathons which involve navigating and running in remote areas over two days.

Colin grew up in Derbyshire where he developed a love of the natural environment and pursuing outdoor activities. Despite not performing well at school, he was offered a place at Derby University where he studied geography and then decided to join the Royal Marines. He trained at Lympstone in Devon and after gruelling tours of Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and the Congo, he returned to Lympstone for what was to be his final role, training new recruits; in 2014, after 15 years of service, he was retired due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Looking for a way forward, and driven by a desire to help other mental health sufferers and improve local community ethos, Colin attended a school for social entrepreneurs in Plymouth and it was here that he had the idea of forming a running club for people with mental health disorders.

Advocating using our natural environment to keep physically and mentally healthy, he began by marketing his new venture on a stall in the Tavistock Pannier Market in 2016, while selling running clothing and gifts aimed at runners.

Public interest was so encouraging that bigger premises were sought at Tamar Trails near Gunnislake, where Colin continued to develop his business over the next two years, and then in January last year he opened the shop in West Street, where he now employees 10 staff.

Run Venture Ltd is the South West’s first and only ‘running hub’ offering a range of running groups, personal training and navigation workshops, as well as organised races and off-road challenges.

Added to this is a personal retail experience with on-hand advice on practical clothing and fitting for running shoes - all with coffee and homemade cake in a charming café area!

Colin says that as runners like to run in groups and are generally sociable animals, this is the perfect convivial space where people can meet and chat over a cuppa, whilst browsing the branded trail and running attire.

He prides himself on his personal customer service, also offering injury advice as a trained sports therapist; while his shop staff are encouraged to attend mental health awareness courses to enable them to offer support to customers who can then be referred for counselling if appropriate. Colin sees this service as something which characterises his business and, importantly for him, helps the wider community.

Last year, in recognition of this, the shop was runner-up in the ‘Best Independent Retailer’ category at the Running Awards and has been nominated again for 2020.

Spurred on by his growing success and the generally increasing number of running enthusiasts, Colin plans to open another shop in Honiton later this year to serve the East Devon area.

Colin is keen to encourage all runners to push themselves physically, whether it be attempting the Pimple Challenge, a solo run from the shop to the famous landmark above Tavistock; the Dartmoor 600 challenge, completing all five of the Dartmoor peaks over 600m; the five-mile Rollercoaster trail race with five steep hills at Tamar Trails; or even the recently started morning running groups for school-run parents or the monthly Brunch Run, naturally finishing up at the café for well-earned treats.

Apart from this, and when he’s not working, Colin enjoys writing articles for a number of national running magazines and attends trade shows around the country to keep abreast of what’s new in all things running. There is little time for hobbies but Colin enjoys reading and spending time with his wife Laura and their five children. Time and weather permitting, he still fits in a bit of climbing on Dartmoor.

Kaye Rogers


Question: What’s the difference between a running shop and a running hub? Answer: Community